In August 2020, Philly YIMBY reported that a zoning permit has been filed for the construction of a three-story single-family rowhouse at 539 West Berks Street near Temple University in North Philadelphia East. More than a year later, the structure stands complete. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom residence was sold last December for $500,000. The structure replaces a vacant lot on the north side of the block between North 5th and North 6th streets and holds 3,416 square feet of interior space. Features include a basement and a roof deck, which offers largely unobstructed views of the surrounding area. Permits list V2 Properties Entity 6 LL as the owner, Plato Marinakos as the design professional, and V2 Properties Construction Management LLC as the contractor.
The structure rises from a 969-square-foot ground footprint that measures 15 feet wide and 61 feet deep, with a 245-square-foot yard in the rear and a 401-square-foot roof deck. The structure measures 31.5 feet tall to the top of the main roof and 40.5 feet tall to the top of the pilot house, with nine-foot-high ceilings on the first and third floors, eight-and-a-half-foot ceilings in the basement, and eight-foot ceilings on the second floor. The total construction cost is specified at $243,500, with $210,000 allocated toward general construction, $17,500 for plumbing work, $8,500 for electrical work, and $7,500 for mechanical work.
Large street-facing windows, combined with open floor layouts and light-colored finishes, create a sense of airiness in the interiors. The property features a washer and a dryer.
The property is situated in a transitional neighborhood sited between the general Temple University area to the west and Fishtown-adjacent Norris Square to the east. For over a decade, both districts have been observing a surge in real estate growth. By now the construction boom is extending from both directions and engulfing the block and the surrounding area, which has seen minimal new constriction in decades. Just over the past year, another three-story residential building was constructed down the block at 531 West Berks Street, and another received a permit December next door at 537 West Berks Street.
It is highly pleasant to finally see the ongoing surge of development in this long-distressed neighborhood, where, after a prolonged postwar period of depopulation and mass demolitions, the few remaining (and largely impoverished) residents had to contend with sometimes block-sized swathes of vacant nuisance lots. In this particular instance, our only regret is that the new building almost entirely blocks from view a bucolic mural painted onto the blank wall of the nearby rowhouse at 535 West Berks Street.