To put it mildly, things have changed quite dramatically around Broad & Fairmount over the last half decade or so. You may recall, the Divine Lorraine is located at the southeast corner of this intersection, representing one of the architectural gems of North Broad Street. Unfortunately, the building fell out of use right around Y2K, running through a couple failed redevelopment plans while it transitioned into a source of blight for the area. Finally, in 2016, EBRM successfully renovated the building into apartments with ground floor retail, turning terrible blight into an asset for the corridor.
Within a couple years of the Divine Lorraine’s rebirth, another mixed-use development broke ground immediately next door. Broadridge, as the developers are calling it, includes almost 500 units and an Aldi supermarket, not only adding density to the area but also filling a major food desert in this part of North Philadelphia. That project went up on a property that was sitting vacant for a couple decades, and we don’t imagine that it would have occurred if not for the renovation of the Divine Lorraine. Between the two projects, just shy of 600 units have been added, plus a market and some restaurants. And don’t forget, the Met Philly is located a couple blocks away to the north.
Despite the presence of these apartment buildings, the sizable property at 680 N. 13th St. is a vacant lot, as it has been for years. But this is looking likely to change in the near future. Within the last few days, developers pulled a permit to change the lot lines for this property and split it up into 28 individual parcels. The developers are also planning to build homes on 16 of these parcels, with one home coming to the corner of Park Ave. and Wallace Street, and 15 homes planned for 13th Street. All of the homes will have two-car parking and will be built on by-right single-family home lots. We have to think that these homes will sell at seven figure price points, or close to it.
The zoning permit specifically indicates that 14 of the lots on Park Ave. will remain vacant for now. We wonder whether the developers will try to get a variance for additional density on those lots, maybe shooting for duplexes, once they get permits for the townhomes. It would be an interesting strategy, as the home lots are quite wide, at 21.5′ for the most part, but the vacant lots are generally over 25′ in width. That’s unusually wide for homes, but awesome for duplexes, triplexes, or even quadplexes. Perhaps the developers will get started on the homes and try a “free roll” with the ZBA on the western portion of the property at the same time. And if it doesn’t work out, they can always go back to the drawing board, redraw the lot lines again, and build some more homes.