278 Unit Mixed-Use Development Proposed for Lehigh Ave. in Kensington

Aerial view of 2157 E. Lehigh Ave. with freight tracks to the north
Aerial view of 2157 E. Lehigh Ave. with freight tracks to the north

The momentum of Fishtown has pushed far past York St. up to Lehigh Avenue. Empty lots have been filled in and houses have been getting rehabbed across the neighborhood. We have seen home prices rise tremendously over the last several years. The Riverwards Group is currently building one of the biggest developments at the northern end of the neighborhood. Their development dubbed as Kensington Courts is rising at Frankford Ave. and Lehigh Ave. This development includes 155 units and retail storefronts. Right next to Kensington Courts, developers are proposing an even larger project.

2157 E. Lehigh Ave. is a more than 80,000 square foot Industrial Commercial Mixed-Use (ICMX) zoned parcel. The plot includes a small garage and has been utilized by a used auto parts business for as long as we can remember. A large muraled wall fronts Lehigh Ave. on the property’s southern side.

2157 E Lehigh Ave
Muraled wall at 2157 E. Lehigh Ave. with The Riverwards Group’s Kensington Courts project in the background

Developers are proposing 278 residential units on the site across four buildings. The structures will each rise between 60 and 75 feet. Two of the buildings will have ground floor retail spaces.

  • Building 1
    • 81 residential units
    • ground floor retail
    • 6 floors
    • 75 feet high
  • Building 2
    • 74 residential units
    • ground floor retail
    • 6 floors
    • 75 feet high
  • Building 3
    • 60 residential units
    • 6 floors
    • 60 feet high
  • Building 4
    • 65 residential units
    • 6 floors
    • 60 feet high

There will also be 96 bicycle spaces and 132 car parking spots included in the project, some of which will be underground.

Residential uses are not allowed by-right on Industrial Commercial Mixed-Use (ICMX) zoned parcels. So, the development team will need a zoning variance in order to proceed with this project. The development will be presented at the Somerset Neighbors For Better Living community meeting on May 6th and then will head to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) on June 12th. If approved by the ZBA, this project will also have to appear before the Civic Design Review (CDR) for non-binding feedback.

Such a large mixed-use development so far north is a sign that we may soon see development push past Lehigh Avenue and the freight lines. Developable lots in the southern Riverwards neighborhoods are becoming more and more sparse. We predict increased gentrification pressure will hit Port Richmond and northern Kensington in the coming years.

Although we expect community pushback against the development on Lehigh Avenue, we do think it is a good project for the neighborhood. Adding this residential density will help quell rising rents and home prices in an area that is seeing residents pushed out because of increased costs of living. If new units are not added to the market, prices will only continue to increase. With the Kensington Courts project rising next door, we think this newly-proposed development is appropriate for residential use. What are your thoughts? What types of businesses would you like to see open on this stretch of Lehigh Avenue?

UPDATE: Renderings have been released. The community and developer are deciding whether the muralled wall / elevated rail line along Lehigh Ave. should be demolished or kept in place. What do you think?

2157-E.-Lehigh-Ave-overhead-rendering
2157 E. Lehigh Ave. overhead rendering via Designblendz Architecture
2157-E.-Lehigh-Ave-rendering-cafe-1
2157 E. Lehigh Ave. site plan via Designblendz Architecture
2157-E.-Lehigh-Ave-rendering
2157 E. Lehigh Ave. rendering via Designblendz Architecture
2157-E.-Lehigh-Ave-rendering-side
2157 E. Lehigh Ave. rendering – garage access on Tulip St. via Designblendz Architecture
2157-E.-Lehigh-Ave-rendering-cafe
2157 E. Lehigh Ave. rendering via Designblendz Architecture
2157-E.-Lehigh-Ave-rendering-cafe-1
2157 E. Lehigh Ave. rendering via Designblendz Architecture

3 thoughts on “278 Unit Mixed-Use Development Proposed for Lehigh Ave. in Kensington

  • Build more house’s for people that won’t to stay but can’t afford to pay this high prices at give us a chance to stay and live in or Community we grew up in that all we ask.

  • I am curious about the price of these units?? I hope this is not going to be section 8 / housing choice.
    6 floors & 7 floors tall.

    I cannot make the meeting because I am still at work.

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