In August 2020, less than two weeks after the launch of Philly YIMBY, we reported on permits filed for the construction of a residential building at 1728 Folsom Street in Fairmount, North Philadelphia. By now, more than a year later, the four-story duplex stands completed, as confirmed by our recent site visit, with both of its units sold. The building, neatly slotted among a phalanx of recently-built residences, marks the final chapter in the dramatic revival of the block between North 17th and North 18th streets, which had sat nearly vacant as recently as a decade ago.
When we first covered the proposal, we noted that the site was previously home to a three-story prewar rowhouse. The rowhouse was one of the small handful of structures still standing on a block that was almost entirely leveled during the long period of depopulation and demolitions that swept across North Philadelphia in the postwar years.
By the turn of the millennium, North Philadelphia was already beginning to reverse its long-running trend of depopulation as new construction was sprouting all around its myriad neighborhoods. If anything, it is surprising that urban revival tool so long to reach the block at hand, as it is centrally located within the desirable Fairmount neighborhood, within relatively short walking distance of the Fairmount Station on the Broad Street Line, Center City, Temple University, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. However, once construction picked up in the early 2010s, it continued unabated until the once-lonesome house at 1728 Folsom Street found itself tightly hemmed in by new neighbors.
In our original publication, we speculated whether the new building will match its stacked-looking, avant-garde, gray-brick-clad neighbors. As we can see now, the building sports an entirely different design, with a red brick facade rising directly from the sidewalk, slightly projecting ahead of its set-back neighbors. Its ground level also sits lower and ceiling heights appear to be slightly lesser than those of its neighbors, meaning that the four-story structure’s parapet rises about as high as those of its three-story neighbors. Even at the rear, the new building’s vertical siding slightly contrasts with the horizontal yet otherwise similar siding covering the adjacent structures. Whether the radically different design adds pleasant variety to the block or ruins an otherwise cohesive composition is up to the reader.
According to Zillow, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom lower unit (#A), which features a backyard, was sold in May for $445,000. The upper unit (#B), which sports a roof deck with dramatic views the Center City, University City, and Temple University skylines, went for $465,000 in June.
While the revival of the 1700 block of Folsom Street to a level of its dense, prewar glory is now complete, plenty of blocks similar blocks in the neighborhood, the adjacent Francisville district immediately to the north, and all throughout Philadelphia await the next chapters of their own success stories, which now seem increasingly likely in ever more location as the city continues to grow and blossom.