20 Units + Retail Replacing Warehouse in Norris Square

A rendering of the back of the apartment building and the townhouses that will line Hope St.

We have told you before and we’ll say it again; Norris Square is primed to explode. The transit-accessible neighborhood is located just across Front St. from Fishtown and East Kensington. It sits between the Berks El stop and the York-Dauphin Station west of the tracks. The neighborhood has one of the most amazing parks within the city grid. We have told you about the $28 million, 142-unit project underway to the west of Norris Square Park. We’ve covered the 80-unit project replacing a warehouse at Howard and Norris St. There is also a 17-unit mixed-use development underway at Front and Diamond St. There are a ton of other infill projects and multi-family projects underway in the neighborhood that we have not had a chance to cover yet.

The pistol-shaped property at 2212 N. Front St.

2212 N. Front St. is an oddly-shaped parcel that sits just north of Susquehanna Ave. The 12,225 square foot CMX-2.5 zoned property has a narrow presence on Front St., but stretches back to a more than 270 foot frontage on Hope St. A subsidiary of Catalyst City Development acquired the property one year ago. An industrial warehouse that was most recently used for auto parts storage and cabinet making stood on the lot until it was demolished earlier this year.

The Front St. side of the warehouse that was demolished
The Hope St. side of the warehouse that was demolished

Catalyst City Development is constructing a 5-unit mixed-use building on Front St. and 15 townhomes along Hope St. The project is already well underway with many of the houses framed and topped out. The hole for the mixed-use building has already been dug.

The homes will each be 2,110 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, finished basements, and roof decks. The five apartments will range in size from 680 square feet to 1,425 square feet. The commercial space will be 1,356 square feet and it looks like it will have good street visibility from the rendering.

A rendering of the 5-unit + retail building that will front Front St.
The townhouses under construction on Hope St.

Although this development is incorporating 15 large townhouses, the development team nearly maxed out the unit count allowed by-right with no density bonuses on this parcel. From our calculations, a 24-unit apartment or condo building could have been built on this site. The development team’s plan is to market the houses for sale. We do not see a huge market for high-end for-sale condos in this section of the neighborhood at this time. We think that is still a few years out and will not happen until the retail scene this far north develops more. On the other hand, new construction townhouses are definitely selling in Norris Square. We could see an investor looking to put money into an opportunity zone eventually purchasing the mixed-use building.

We are happy to see the residential units that this development is bringing along the Front St. corridor and we look forward to seeing what retailer sets up shop in the storefront. There are quite a few new retail spaces being built out on Front St. between the Berks stop and the York-Dauphin Station. So, the momentum is definitely building along this section of the corridor. Look back 6 years and there was barely any retail scene on Front St. between Girard and Berks outside of the El Bar, Kung Foo Necktie, and a few other scattered businesses. Front Street is definitely continuing to rise! In 10 years, this stretch will be unrecognizable.

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