South Kensington could see 73 new homes, 4 new businesses

This one-story warehouse in South Kensington will give way to 52 new townhouses under a development proposal approved by South Kensington Community Partners Nov. 14.

Residents at a South Kensington Community Partners meeting Wednesday (Nov. 14) voted 26 to 4 in favor of a proposed 52-home development on the 1400 block of North Howard Street. Also on the agenda was a plan from Bello Architects—which will not be voted on—to build 10 new homes at 1323 N. Howard St. and 11 on the adjacent side, on Hope Street.

Representatives from Harman Deutsch Architecture, which would be in charge of the 1400-block project, explained their plan to demolish the existing one-story former warehouse and, over the course of about two years, erect their three-story dwellings.

The front doors to each home would open onto Howard, Master, Mascher, and Jefferson streets, with parking in the back protected by automatic gates. Commercial spaces would occupy each of the four corners to emulate a traditional South Philly style.

The tentative plan is to have mostly three-bedroom houses and a handful of four-bedrooms. Roof decks and “green roofs” are also in the layout, and four different façade designs would be utilized to avoid monotony.

The design was approved by SKCP under condition that a few provisos are met, such as adding more trees to the block and ensuring that none of the corners are occupied by businesses that go against neighbors’ wishes (i.e., large chains or noisy bars).

Some residents expressed concern that new homes on 1323 would eat up the already-scarce street parking, as the current design only allows for one car per home in the rear-loading garages. These three-bedroom, 2 ½-bath homes would have brick walls on the first floor, with stucco on the second and third floors.

After a discussion, SKCP decided it will request that at least one of the homes be removed to allow for more green space, and it will request that the bright and modern design be altered to better fit with the surrounding area.

Demolition of current structures could start in spring 2013 for the construction at 1323 N. Howard, although zoning permits have not yet been filed for.

The developers project that all 77 new houses will be priced in the $350,000 to $385,000 range.

-By Walter Foley for PhiladelphiaRealEstate.com

Photo by the author