Modernism and traditional styles in Eastern North Philadelphia

A couple of months ago, I had an article about the Mill Creek neighborhood in West Philadelphia and stated that it is arguably the most redeveloped neighborhood in the city.  While that may still be true, a close rival for that title is the Ludlow neighborhood in Eastern North Philadelphia.  Ludlow is north of Girard Avenue between the SEPTA regional rail line, adjacent to Ninth Street, and arguably to Sixth Street.  It is just east of the Temple campus and Yorktown, and just west of the Old Kensington neighborhood.  I first walked through the area about ten years ago after hearing about the first phase of a new Housing Authority development along Franklin Street, which runs parallel to 7th & 8th Streets on either side.  The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) development was known as Ludlow, itself, and was the first redevelopment of its kind between 6th & 9th Streets and north of Girard.  At the time, it was like an oasis in the midst of possibly the most blighted, dangerous and poorest neighborhood in the city.  Ludlow looked like a war zone after the war had ended, but before they cleaned up the rubble.  There were many abandoned buildings and empty lots on every block and drug activity was rampant everywhere.  The first phase of Ludlow included a block of brick twin homes and a block of prairie style twin homes.  After I nervously walked down the middle of Franklin Street to Girard Avenue, I decided to return regularly to view the subsequent demolition and rebuilding.

After the first phase of Ludlow, the local community group known as Asociacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM) started another redevelopment known as La Pradera (The Meadows).  That development, also, had traditional prairie style twin and single homes with vinyl siding and peaked rooves.  Pradera homes have front and back yards and driveways in between.  APM redeveloped several whole blocks along 7th, 8th, and Franklin Streets to create Pradera.  Then a few years ago, the PHA continued with the next phase of Ludlow, building traditional brick townhouses on 22 scattered sites throughout the Ludlow neighborhood, from 6th Street to 8th Street.  These homes, mostly, are very urban homes built up to the sidewalk and attached to each other in groups of three to seven homes.  They either have garages in front or driveways in the back and they all have small backyards where there used to be tiny rowhomes on side streets behind the larger homes on 6th, 7th, 8th Streets and the like.  Along with earlier redevelopments by APM and the Women’s Opportunity Revitalization Corporation (WORC) on 5th and 6th Streets, on the edge of the neighborhood, these developments have largely rebuilt and transformed the Ludlow neighborhood.  There are still some abandoned buildings and empty lots, and some drug activity may be happening outside of a few remaining convenience stores, but the neighborhood bears little resemblance to the urban wasteland that I first encountered a decade ago.

Lately, the largest community group responsible for the neighborhood’s redevelopment (other than PHA), APM, is building new homes, and planning others, in the neighborhood that have a more modern design and will bring new retail to Ludlow.  The latest development of homes, currently under construction, are on a little side street called Sheridan Street that runs between Montgomery Avenue and Berks Street, parallel to 7th & Marshall Streets (on the east side, just west of 6th Street).  These homes, called Sheridan Street Housing and designed by Interface Studios, will have a very modern look and will be LEED certified.  They will have sustainable features, such as geothermal cooling and solar panels.  Interface Studios has designed such modern buildings as the $100K house in Fishtown and The Modules on North 15th Street.  The fact that such modern homes are being built in Ludlow by APM is a sign that the community there is accepting new, cutting edge designs.  The suburban and traditional townhouse designs that were previously built were a reflection of community desires after numerous community meetings in the past.  Residents of Ludlow wanted more open space, particularly for families, and parking and had a preference for traditional designs.  Nowadays, however, many residents are expressing a desire for these modern, cutting edge homes that they see in nearby neighborhoods, like Fishtown and Northern Liberties.  They, also, universally want the sustainable, energy-saving features of new homes, whether they are in a modern or a traditional design.

Another development that will have cutting edge design and sustainable features is a new five-storey apartment building being planned to be built next to the Temple University regional rail station on 9th Street.  This building, designed by Wallace, Roberts and Todd Architects and Planners (who are also creating a neighborhood plan for APM) will be sustainable not just because of design features, but also because of its location next to a train station.  It is known as Transit Oriented Development, or TOD, and will have features designed to encourage the use of the regional rail line next door, such as bike parking and car sharing pods.  The building will have retail on the first floor, which is badly needed in Ludlow, office space on the second floor, and affordable apartments on the remaining floors, as well as a green roof on top.  It will act as a gateway to Temple and a gateway to Ludlow for Temple Students and faculty, who rarely walk east of the regional rail viaduct adjacent to 9th Street.  Several other renovations and apartment buildings have been built near the Temple rail station west of the viaduct.  This building is still being designed, but will likely start construction before the end of the year and be finished in 2013.

All these improvements will enhance the previous rebuilding and will likely create enough demand for major private development and attract students and middle-class people to the area.  Already, some of the remaining buildings that were abandoned are being renovated, including a sizeable industrial building at 6th Street and Columbia Avenue.  And the mix of new modern developments will create a very architecturally diverse neighborhood.  If you would like to buy, sell, or rent a home or investment property in this transforming neighborhood, you can contact me at gabriel@thecondoshops.com or sign onto my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor or the Condo Shop Facebook page, here.

Phase one of Ludlow along Franklin Street

La Pradera homes on Franklin Street, with brick sidewalks

Single family Pradera homes on 7th Street

Ludlow homes along 7th Street

Apartments built by WORC @ 6th & Berks Streets

Borinquen Plaza shopping center @ 5th & Berks, with the first new bank branch in the neighborhood in decades

Rendering of the Sheridan Street Homes

Rendering of the balcony of the Sheridan Street Homes

Sign announcing the Sheridan Street Homes

Sheridan Street Homes, just off of Sheridan Street @ 7th & Montgomery

Homes along Sheridan Street, looking north

Sheridan Street home showing balcony and solar panel

Preliminary rendering of the TOD building @ 9th & Berks, next to the Temple regional rail station

Site @ 9th & Berks where the TOD building will be built

Some buildings being renovated on 7th Street

An old factory building being renovated @ 6th Street & Columbia Avenue

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About gabrielcgottlieb

I am a real estate agent at Long & Foster Real Estate Center City and someone who likes to write about development and urban planning in the City of Philadelphia. Contact me at Gabriel.gottlieb@LNF.com if you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in Philadelphia.
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One Response to Modernism and traditional styles in Eastern North Philadelphia

  1. This is very exciting stuff, I love that entire area. That area is perfectly located and a strong spot for investment for those with courage and vision. Its encouraging to see this development happening here.

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