Permits have been issued for the construction of a pair of single-family houses at 2608 Pine Street and 2610 Pine Street in Fitler Square, Center City. The buildings will replace two attractive, well-preserved prewar rowhouses, which are part of an intact ensemble that spans the entire block. Each building will feature a roof deck. Permits list Judith M. Crossan Sanicky and William M. Sanicky as owners for the building planned at number 2608, which will span a footprint of 768 square feet, and Margaret Connor Porter and Scott. T Porter for its neighbor at number 2610, which will rise from a footprint measuring 910 square feet.
The rowhouses appear to belong to some of the city’s oldest housing stock. Their low porches with stone risers, understated red brick facades with prominent white window sills and lintels, window shutters, and subtle cornices are reflective of an early Colonial style, which shares more in common with the restrained London style of Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher Wren than it does with the more ornate and intricately articulated rowhouse designs of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The rowhouses are made even more attractive and prominent by their location on the south side of Schuylkill River Park, where, combined, they comprise an ensemble worthy of any classic English square (or its Philadelphia descendants).
Losing two of these buildings in this rarefied, well-preserved ensemble, to be replaced by a pair of modern structures of roughly the same scale, is an affront to the city’s venerable cityscape. Although mostly built-out, the neighborhood still offers opportunities for development at sites that are either vacant or where demolition would present no significant loss to the urban fabric.
One such example is located directly to the northeast, where, a few years ago, a group of rather mundane rowhouses with street-level garages made way for an attractive, five-story apartment building.
We support further growth in the neighborhood, but not as much if it comes at a loss of quintessential Philadelphia architecture and without any increase in housing density.