72-Bed Adult Dorm Rising in Fishtown

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Common Frankford under construction – 965 Frankford Ave.

Fishtown has seen a lot of changes over the last 20 years. It has gone from a working class neighborhood with a ton of industrial properties to being crowned as one of the hottest neighborhoods in the country. Auto shops and manufacturers have been pushed out to make way for luxury pizza and upscale dining.

A project that definitely would have never survived in the Fishtown of the 90’s is the 72-bed co-living apartment building rising at 965 Frankford Avenue, across from The Fillmore concert venue. The building is replacing a former auto mechanic and parking lot. The industrial structure was demolished at the end of 2018.

965-Frankford-Ave-mechanic-demolished
Industrial building that was demolished in 2018

Developers purchased the 9,892 square foot, CMX-2.5 zoned parcel in 2018 for $2.1 million. They proceeded to secure zoning approvals at the end of 2018 for a 33-unit building with ground floor retail and 11 bicycle spaces. New construction permits were issued in February of 2019 for the five-story building.

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Rendering of Common Frankford – 965 Frankford Ave.

The building is being called Common Frankford, and is a project of Common Living, a New York-based company. Common Living is partnering with Elk Street Management, a Philadelphia-based development firm to build the project. Common Living plans on spending $100 million on 1,000+ co-living beds in the Philadelphia area over the next several years.

The Common Frankford will have 72 beds across 33 units. There will be one-bedroom apartments, studio apartments, and co-living units available in the building. The co-living units will have shared kitchens, bathrooms, and common living areas. Many people have compared these co-living units to adult dorms.

Common Living has stated that they aim to price beds in the co-living units at $995 per month, which they believe is 35% less than average rent in the neighborhood. From our experience, $995 may be 35% less than a private one bedroom apartment in Fishtown. However, tenants do not have to share kitchens and bathrooms when they have their own one bedroom apartment. The co-living situation is more similar to renting a 2 or 3 bedroom house and sharing it with roommates. A renovated 3 bedroom house in Fishtown could be rented for approximately $700 per person or less. So, we do not see the cost savings with the co-living situation.

We do think the co-living situation could be good for someone that is new to the area, needs rent below $1,000, does not know anyone to room with, and does not want to sublet from a stranger. These units may also be good for people that are coming to Philadelphia for a few months for work and do not need a full one year lease.

We are extremely interested in seeing how this project performs from a leasing standpoint. Will full-time residents be anxious to share living spaces with strangers? Will these units cater more to the business traveler market? Will Common Living need to adjust rent prices?

We are also excited to see another retail space added to the strip of Frankford Ave. south of I-95. The commercial space is being advertised as 4,150 square feet and seems to have a nice street presence from the renderings. What business would you like to see open in this location? How do you feel about this project in general?

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