Washington Avenue, west of Broad Street, is a historically industrial street. For decades it was lined with active factories and warehouses, the largest industrial corridor in South Philadelphia not adjacent to the waterfront. As time went by, most of the factories closed down and the industrial buildings were converted almost entirely into home building and decorating supply warehouses, some with pedestrian-accessible showrooms. As the city’s housing market has boomed, these businesses have grown and sometimes have been renovated. However, many people believe that with housing development in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood reaching a limit of available space and the outdated layout of these warehouse buildings, that Washington Avenue should see redevelopment. Several small apartment developments are planned for Washington Avenue, one at 20th Street and Washington, another at 18th Street and Washington, and the largest at 16th Street and Washington Avenue.
The development at 1601 Washington Avenue, designed by RHC Design LLC, will be five storeys tall and have 35 apartment units. The exterior will have modern panels and traditional looking windows, with Juliet balconies and a rooftop deck. There will be retail on both Washington Avenue and 16th Street, and a parking entrance on Washington Avenue leading to 20 ground level parking spaces behind the building. The property is currently part of a parking lot for a grocery store set back from Washington Avenue. 1601 Washington Avenue will be built on a diamond-shaped parcel of land that is separate from the grocery store and the rest of its parking lot. This juxtaposition to the existing grocery store caused concern in the neighborhood, but after much testimony at Planning Commission and Zoning Board hearings, both the Planning Commission and Zoning Board voted to approve the project, agreeing with some neighbors who believe that industrial and warehouse uses, as well as, suburban-style strip malls, were not the best use for Washington Avenue properties nowadays.
This new development, like I said, could start a new trend of new residential and commercial development on this stretch of Washington Avenue. When I was in the neighborhood the other day, I found out that one of the buildings near 19th Street was for sale, then I found out that the building directly across the street was also for sale. Besides the developments planned at 18th and 20th Streets, there are plans to convert the large former Frankford Chocolate Factory, at 22nd Street and Washington Avenue, into apartments and there is a large new townhouse and condo project being built at 17th & Carpenter Streets, called Carpenter Square, and a site across the street that will be redeveloped by a developer that was chosen last week by the Redevelopment Authority. On the northwestern corner of 17th & Carpenter, an empty lot is about to be converted into a neighborhood park called Carpenter Green, which is probably one reason why this apartment building at 1601 Washington Avenue is being built at this time. Washington Avenue could, also, attract artists and creative companies in existing and newly constructed buildings. NextFab Studios, which provides work spaces, machinery, and tools for artists and creative companies has recently opened up a few blocks west of 1601 Washington. Also, an old warehouse just south of Washington Avenue, at 25 & Ellsworth Streets, is being renovated into loft-style apartments. As if all this isn’t enough, the University of Pennsylvania is starting to redevelop the former Dupont Labs site on the Schuylkill River, just off of Gray’s Ferry Avenue near the western end of Washington Avenue, with a mix of research facilities and office and lab space for private high-tech companies.
At Broad and Washington, developer Bart Blatstein is planning a huge shopping center development, which hopefully will include some residential towers as well, and South Broad Street is experiencing several new developments, such as the Southstar Lofts apartment building, at Broad and South Streets, and the SLS International Hotel and Condominiums, at Broad and Spruce Streets. The redevelopment of Washington Avenue seems almost inevitable with this huge amount of housing development happening nearby.
If you are looking to buy or sell a home or investment property in the Graduate Hospital or Point Breeze neighborhoods, or any other neighborhood in the city, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my Long & Foster agent portal, here, or learn more about our Long & Foster Center City office, here. You can, also, check out my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or follow my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE. And, you can look at the ZBA approval, here, and view renderings and my pictures of the site and neighborhood, below.