106 Units Proposed on Blighted Lot in Kensington

Vacant lot at 1817 E. York St. with Frank Furness bank in the background

You have heard us preach transit-oriented development time after time. People want to live near public transportation, especially near the subway. That is why we have seen development follow the path of the train lines. Take the eastern side of the Market Frankford Line as an example. Development started in Old City (2nd St.), moved to Northern Liberties (Spring Garden), then the southern part of Fishtown (Girard), then the northern part of Fishtown (Berks). Now, we are beginning to see a ton of activity surrounding the York-Dauphin Station in East Kensington and Norris Square. Tons of infill has already happened and we have written about multiple large-scale proposals surrounding the York-Dauphin Station. 107 units have been proposed for York and Emerald, 157 have been proposed for Boston and Emerald, 56 units have topped out at York and Amber, 20 units are rising at Front and Susquehanna, a 17-unit project that recently became an ad-hoc kayaking pool is under construction, and a 28-unit building was recently completed at Kensington and Boston. This area of the city is about to get hundreds of new residents.

We have mentioned that one of the main drivers of these projects is the presence of large Industrial Residential Mixed-Use (IRMX) parcels in this section of Philadelphia. IRMX allows for tall and dense projects by right. The other driver of large scale development in this area is the neighborhood’s inclusion in the federal Qualified Opportunity Zone.

Rendering of the 106-unit project being proposed at 1817 E. York St.

It looks like developers are continuing to realize the value of these IRMX parcels. 1817-41 E York St., a 31,500 square foot IRMX-zoned parcel, changed hands in July for $3 million. The new owners of the property appeared before the East Kensington Neighborhood Association (EKNA) earlier this week to present plans for a 106-unit project on the site with artist studios and 33 parking spaces included. This project is by right and only appeared before the community for design feedback purposes. Artist studios, or some other type of industrial use are a required in by right IRMX developments.

The community was generally receptive the the plan. Of course, there was some pushback on the parking ratio. However, we feel like 33 parking spaces is more than enough this close to the El. The community felt like the design was modern for the neighborhood, which is otherwise made up of industrial era masonry buildings. The developers will be including a memorial to the two firefighters who lost their lives in 2012 at the site, which we think is a nice touch.

We appreciate the density of this project and look forward to seeing the blighted lot get developed. If anyone out there has more detailed renderings, please send them our way. If not, we can expect to see them when the Civic Design Review (CDR) presentation is released in the coming months. How do you feel about this project?

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