Philly YIMBY’s recent site visit has revealed the completion of construction at a four-story, four-unit condominium at 233 Christian Street in Queen Village, South Philadelphia. The development rises on the north side between South American Street and South 2nd Street, replacing an undistinguished three-story rowhouse. Designed by Gnome Architects and developed by Zatos Investment, the building spans 7,014 square feet and features a basement, full sprinkling and private roof decks. Permits list GRIT Construction as the contractor and a construction cost of $350,000.
Philadelphia YIMBY frequently takes issue with demolition of existing rowhouses, especially when they are in good condition and their replacement offers only marginal increase in density. And though the rowhouse that stood at the site until around 2019 was indeed only one story shorter than the new structure and appeared to be reasonably well-maintained, we have no objections to its replacement.
The demolished building’s brick facade appeared surprisingly drab even considering its understated brick ornamentation. Its sheer front facade broke the roof line of the Federal rowhouse next door as drastically as the new building does. Furthermore, its lack of a projecting cornice detracted from its appearance in comparison to its neighbors.
As is the trend for the consistently high-quality output from Gnome Architects, the final product matches the renderings almost exactly, in this case the exception being the lack of arched windows at the fourth floor. Although the design of the new building is not perfect, particularly given its sidewalk-facing electrical meters and lack of an articulated base, it shows definite improvement over its predecessor. The crisp red brick catches the sunlight in a more attractive manner and its tone is a better match for the Federal and Colonial rowhouses to the east.
The gently projecting street-facing cantilever boasts large picture windows and understated yet stately mullions and trim, while its black color matches that of the plain yet attractive cornice at the parapet. Gridded windows echo the design of the apertures of the building’s historic counterparts on the block.
The building maxes out its allowable height, rising 38 feet to the main roof, 41.5 feet to the parapet, and 48 feet to the top of the pilot house. Although the structure rises only slightly higher than its neighbors, the height difference gives it the necessary prominence to allow for dramatic views of the nearby Center City skyline from the roof decks.
Residences feature hardwood floors, white quartz countertops, and stainless steel appliances in the kitchens. Last May, one of the units was sold for $575,000.
233 Christian Street is situated in a quaint neighborhood densely built out with predominantly prewar residential stock, and as such offers few significant sites for redevelopment that would not require demolition of distinguished structures. However, such opportunities do exist throughout the desirable, centrally-located (though subway-distant) neighborhood, such as a block to the east at 841-51 South 2nd Street, where a four-story, 42-unit mixed-use building with ground-floor retail will soon replace a recently demolished suburban-style strip mall.