43 Units + New Restaurant Planned for Kensington

Aerial Rendering of The Cecil

We have told you again and again that Kensington is booming. New construction houses, residential buildings, and mixed-use structures dot the landscape of this transit-accessible neighborhood. We recently told you about a 93-unit mixed-use building replacing an old warehouse at the corner of 2nd and Cecil B. Moore Ave. The warehouse is now completely demolished and we imagine we should see construction begin in the coming months.

Just south of this 93-unit project, on the southeastern side of the intersection, three projects are planned that will total 43 units, multiple retail spaces, and a new bar with a pool table. The three projects are all located within a qualified opportunity zone. We’ll start at the corner and work our way south, covering each of these developments.

1647 N. 2nd St. – An old 3-story, 5,586 square foot, brick structure stands on this 1,806 square foot, CMX-1 zoned parcel. The building sold in May of 2018 for $700,000. Although the handsome exterior of the building looked to be in good shape, the listing pictures showed that the interior needed a ton of work. The owners have a hearing with the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) in October to review their plans to create an addition off the back side of the building and to open a sit-down restaurant “with less than 3 pool tables” on the first through third floors. We find two things very interesting about this zoning appeal. First, we think it is weird that the ZBA has such detailed controls over how many pool tables a restaurant can have. Second, it is rare to see owners of a multi-story building pursue 100% commercial use and to forego residential use. We are in support of the plan as this area of the neighborhood needs more dining / entertainment options, especially with the large amount of new residential units coming to market.

Interior of 1647 N. 2nd St. in 2017

The Cecil at 1641-45 N. 2nd St. – This parcel includes 180 Cecil B. Moore, which is an oddly-shaped plot of land that wraps around 1647 N. 2nd St. (bar conversion mentioned above). All of these lots are zoned CMX-1, are vacant, and total 4,680 square feet. There has been no action on the site to date. However, the lots have been combined and new construction permits were pulled in June. The project entails a 5-story building with 20 residential units, ground floor retail, 5 car parking spots, and 10 bicycle spaces. There will also be roof decks above the 2nd and 5th floors. The building is being called The Cecil. The project will be developed by BKP Development Group and the design work was done by KJO Architecture. BKP Development’s website states that they plan to break ground in the fall of 2019.

Rendering of The Cecil from N. 2nd St.
Rendering of The Cecil from Cecil B. Moore Ave.

1633-39 N. 2nd St. – This 7,680 square foot, Industrial Commercial Mixed-Use (ICMX) zoned parcel once held a 3-story building and a low-rise warehouse. Because ICMX does not allow residential uses by-right, the owners of the property had to seek a variance. In July of 2017, the ZBA granted approval for a 6-story, 24-unit building with ground floor retail, 13 car parking spots, and 8 bicycle spaces. New construction permits were issued in October of 2018. The old buildings were demolished roughly six months ago and steel is already rising on site. It looks like the building was scaled back to 23 units in February of 2019.

Steel rising at 1633-39 N. 2nd St.

That concludes our trip down N. 2nd St. This intersection is about to be transformed over the next two years. The 93-unit project to the north plus these three developments will total 136 new units within a half-block stretch. We think this residential density and the additional retail spaces will be great for the neighborhood. These projects are less than a half-mile walk to the Berks El Station and will be perfect for commuters taking SEPTA into Center City for work.

How do you feel about these projects? Do you welcome a new restaurant with a pool table to the neighborhood?

93-unit project on the left behind the construction fencing. Bar conversion in the corner building. The two other mixed-use projects will be between the corner building and the warehouse.

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