29-Unit Adaptive Reuse Project Approved in Kensington

1221 N 4th St Firehouse
Historic Firehouse at 1221 N. 4th St.

Back in 2018, the Redevelopment Authority put out a request for proposal for the purchase and redevelopment of the historic firehouse at 1221-25 N. 4th St. in Kensington. The building was constructed in 1893 and operated as a firehouse until 1979 when it was deemed not suitable for the size of modern firetrucks. Since then, it has been used to store documents.

Last summer, the city chose a winner of the RFP process and agreed to sell the building for $1.6 million. To date, we have not seen a transfer of ownership recorded in city records. We imagine that is because the buyer’s purchase was contingent on a zoning variance being approved for the 10,004 square foot, RM-1 zoned historic property that runs street-to-street.

Historic Firehouse at 1221 N. 4th St.
Orianna Street side of the historic firehouse at 1221 N. 4th St.

If that is the case, we could possibly see the sale officially close in the coming weeks. Earlier this month, the buyer’s plan for the property was approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). The approved plan entails the renovation of the existing firehouse and the construction of a 5-story addition off the back of the building. There will be a total of 29 residential units within the new and old structure along with a commercial space, 14 car parking spots, 15 bicycle stalls, and a roof deck. We imagine the commercial space will front 4th Street and the parking entrance will be located on Orianna Street.

We’re extremely excited to see this building get restored and reused. They really don’t build them like this any more. If all goes according to plan, this project will be a success story for historic preservation in Philadelphia. It will also create a bunch of new homes near public transit in a thriving neighborhood.

How do you feel about this project? Are you happy to see the adaptive reuse plans approved?

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