32 Units + Retail Planned Near the Berks El Station

A rendering of 171 W. Berks St.
A rendering of 171 W. Berks St.

The area around the Berks El Station continues to evolve. We’ve told you about countless developments on N. Front St. and surrounding blocks (check out our map page). Right between the 28-unit mixed-use project and the 30-unit warehouse conversion plan we wrote about on West Berks St., another development is moving forward.

Back in February of 2016, a zoning variance was granted that permitted a 5-story structure with 32 residential units, ground floor retail, and 22 bicycle parking spaces on the 7,400 square foot industrial (I-2) zoned parcel at 171 W. Berks St. Until recently, there was a low-rise garage on the property that was used as an auto repair shop, a corner store, and a design office. Within the last few weeks, the building was demolished.

171 W. Berks St. demolition
171 W. Berks St. during demolition
171 W. Berks St. demolition
171 W. Berks St. after demolition

We tracked down a few renderings of the proposal. The renderings depict a gray brick building with large windows and wood accents. The renderings were likely produced back around when the zoning variance was granted. We actually think the design is quite attractive compared to some of the other new construction buildings that have been erected in Philadelphia recently. Hopefully, the developers plan on pursuing a similar style.

Confusingly, back in March of 2016, a use permit was pulled on the property to build 28 residential units with ground floor retail, 10 car parking spots, and 22 bicycle spaces. Although no new construction permits have been pulled yet, we are fairly certain that the 32-unit project with no parking is being pursued. The owners received an extension for the 32-unit plan back in March of 2019 that gives them until March of 2020 to get their building permits.

We’re hopeful that this project breaks ground within the next couple of months. The additional residential density and retail space with no parking spaces included should work great at this location that is about 2 blocks from the Berks El Stop and within a Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ).

How do you feel about this project? Can you believe all of the changes that have happened around the Berks Station over the last few years?

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