103 Units + Commercial Proposed in Kensington Near the Berks El Station

1700 N Howard St Rendering
Rendering of 1700 N. Howard St

When we started telling people to buy property on the west side of Front St. near the Berks El Station more than 5 years ago, we could not have imagined that the neighborhood would develop as quickly as it has. We knew it had some great characteristics and was prime for growth, but did not think big money would pour into the area so fast. Bordering Fishtown and Northern Liberties, being located right next to the Market-Frankford Line, and having a large inventory of under-untilized properties surrounded by a good existing housing stock made this neighborhood prime for investment.

Although the area seems like it has developed rapidly over the last 5 years, we believe things are just getting started in this neck of the woods. There are several projects under construction and in the pipeline that will have an enormous impact on the neighborhood. If you check out the map page of our site, you’ll see a bunch of projects that we’ve covered, and there are a ton more that we haven’t gotten around to writing about.

1700-30 N. Howard St.
Looking north at 1700-30 N. Howard St. from Cecil B. Moore Ave
1700-30 N. Howard St.
The section of 1700-30 N. Howard St. that is not nominated for historic designation in red
1700-30 N. Howard St.  street art
The Waterloo St. side of 1700-30 N. Howard St.

Today, we bring you another large project. Developers are proposing the construction of a building with 103 residential units, commercial space, 35 parkings spots, 50 bicycle spaces, and a roof deck at 1700-30 N. Howard St. This property sits just north of Cecil B. Moore Ave. between N. Howard St. and Waterloo St.

This project will need to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for variances to move forward. All of the parcels included in the development plan are zoned RSA-5, which only allows single-family houses by-right. We find this zoning classification quite odd for these large, industrial buildings. Without seeing more detailed plans, we are not sure what other variances are being requested.

When we first read the zoning appeal for this proposal, we were a bit concerned, to say the least. The brick building at Cecil B. Moore and Howard has always been one of our favorite structures in the neighborhood, and we dreaded the thought of it being demolished. After doing a little digging, we found out that The Keeping Society of Philadelphia had nominated the building for historic designation and The Committee on Historic Designation unanimously voted to recommend the building for historic designation on June 17th. To our knowledge, the property has not yet been officially designated to the local register, but we are optimistic that it will be. Since the nomination is already in progress and we see no demolition permits pulled for the building, this structure cannot be knocked down unless the historic designation is denied. This important piece of industry history was built in 1876 and was once the decorating plant of Gillinder & Sons Franklin Flint Glass Works.

We look forward to seeing more detailed plans and renderings for this project and are interested in how the corner building will be incorporated into the project. If it is done tastefully, we think this could be an amazing development. Adding residential density along the train line and more commercial space just off Front St. should be two huge positive for the neighborhood. We see no reason why 103 units + commercial space should not be allowed to be built at this location and think the variance should be granted.

How do you feel about the proposal?

UPDATE: we have been informed that although it is not reflected on the Philadelphia Historic Commission’s website yet, the corner building was officially designated on July 10th

UPDATE 2: Renderings are now available for this property. It looks like the development team plans to save the charming building at the corner of Cecil B. Moore and Howard and demolish all other structures, including the low-rise portion at Cecil B. Moore and Waterloo. There is a drive aisle on Howard St. in the renderings and a fence along Waterloo St. The retail is planned along Cecil B. Moore Ave.

More renderings within the Instagram post below. How do you feel about this plan?

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