56-Unit + Retail Modular Project Rising Quickly in Kensington

56-unit, mixed-use, modular project under construction at 2120 E. York St.

East Kensington is experiencing an influx of investment and residential density as a result of the neighborhood’s industrial past and its designation as an opportunity zone. Old factories and warehouses have been converted to new uses. Other large vacant lots are being developed into dense multi-family and mixed-use new construction projects. There are several Industrial Residential Mixed-Use (IRMX) parcels in the neighborhood that are giving developers the opportunity to build dense projects by-right.

The warehouse that was demolished at 2120 E. York St.

2120 E. York St. is a 13,500 IRMX-zoned parcel that was acquired by Civetta Property Group last year for $1.2 million. When Civetta Property Group purchased the property, which sits right on the border of Fishtown and East Kensington, there was an old warehouse standing on the property. Civetta Property Group originally intended on repurposing the warehouse. However, their plans eventually changed and the warehouse was demolished in October of 2018. We imagine that it would have been difficult to take full advantage of the property’s IRMX zoning designation and also save the warehouse.

2120 E. York St. Rendering via KJO Architecture

Civetta Property Group decided to go big with 2120 E. York St. They released plans last year for a 56-unit apartment building with ground floor retail, 23 car parking spaces, and a roof deck. The project is completely by-right and made its way through the Civic Design Review (CDR) process before demolition proceeded last year.

2120 E. York St. is being built via modular construction. Civetta dug the subterranean level of the building, poured the foundation, and erected the steel first level of the building over the last ten months. Just over a week ago, the modular units began getting lifted into place by a large crane that can be seen from all corners of the neighborhood. You may have seen the modular units, which were constructed off site, driving down Aramingo Ave. and York St. with police escorts recently. It has been fascinating to watch this building rise. As of yesterday evening, the 4 modular stories fronting York St. have all been lifted into place. There is still work to be done on the Arizona St. side of the project.

One of the modular units waiting to be lifted into place
A drawing of the stacked modular units at 2120 E. York St.

After all modular units are in place, the building will be wrapped in its facade. From the renderings and CDR plans, it looks like the first floor will be covered in a white brick and the upper floors will be cladded in black and white metal siding.

This $12 million project was one of the first developments in Philadelphia to take advantage of the Federal Opportunity Zone program. PNC Bank Opportunity Zone Fund is funding the project with $8 million in equity financing and $2 million in debt. Since the Opportunity Zone program incentivizes owners to hold their investment for 10 years, we imagine the building will be marketed as rental apartments.

Aerial rendering of 2120 E. York St.

We are big fans of the residential density that this project will bring to the neighborhood along with the additional retail spaces on York St. If we want the Frankford Avenue commercial corridor to continue to develop northward, we need to keep adding residential density to fuel new businesses. We are excited to see what retail tenants open up shop at 2120 E. York St. They will definitely be in good company. Martha, our favorite restaurant in the neighborhood is just across the street. The Monkey Club, where you may find us playing pool, is just west on York St. Philadelphia Brewing Company is a block north on Martha St. We have told you that the old Weisbrod & Hess Brewery is currently being restored into what we have been told will be some type of restaurant concept. Our zoning and construction permit research has also lead us to believe that another new restaurant will be opening next to Martha. Lots of new and exciting things are happening in this area. We are excited to see what the next several years bring to this neighborhood as more residential and commercial density is brought to East Kensington.

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