A recent site visit by Philly YIMBY has discovered that construction work is well underway at a five-story, 28-unit mixed-use building at 5904-96 Germantown Avenue in Germantown, Northwest Philadelphia. The property is situated on the southwest side of the block between West Rittenhouse and West Haines streets, half a block north of Vernon Park. Designed by KCA Design Associates and Ambit Architecture (as the exterior designer), with GRIT Construction as the contractor, the building will span 27,450 square feet and feature 1,215 square feet of commercial space, a roof deck, a green roof, and full sprinkling. Permits list a construction cost of $3.7 million.
Renderings posted at the contractor website show a plain structure clad in beige brick, with dark metal siding at the top level vaguely resembling a mansard roof. Our recent site visit shows that the structure has been largely assembled and that facade installation seems imminent. Although facade installation has not yet begun, the arrangement of the windows appears consistent with the renderings, indicating that the final design is likely the same as it appears on the renderings.
The building replaces a pair of low-rise prewar commercial buildings. While YIMBY generally argues against demolitions of prewar buildings, calling for adaptive reuse and vertical extensions instead, the buildings at the site offered minimal preservation value. Although the detailing at the cornices was rather attractive, though not extraordinary, their soot-stained, blue-painted brick facades and thoroughly work store awnings left quite a drab impression on the streetscape.
Although taller than its immediate neighbors, the new building is not out of scale with the surroundings, where several similarly-sized and larger structures both of the prewar and postwar vintage already stand in the vicinity. The building will reinvigorate the central stretch of Germantown Avenue, where Renaissance-styled Germantown City Hall (with its ornate tower visible on the right side of the project rendering), Beaux-Arts Germantown High School, and Neo-Gothic First United Methodist Church of Germantown all stand within one to two blocks to the northwest.