A recent site visit by Philadelphia YIMBY has discovered that construction has topped out at a three-story, three-unit apartment building at 1810 Federal Street in Point Breeze, South Philadelphia. The development is situated on the south side of the block between South 18th and South 19th streets. Designed by Designblendz, the structure will span 3,352 square feet. Permits list Michael Treacy as the contractor and specify a construction cost of $450,000.
The building measures 16 feet wide and extends 58 feet long, leaving space for a 16-foot-deep rear yard. The structure rises 38 feet to the main roof, maxing out the (rather paltry) allowable height at the site. The ground floor is raised four feet above the sidewalk, emulating Philadelphia’s celebrated rowhouse vernacular, and will be accessed via a porch, which is yet to be constructed. The front facade will be clad in brick; the upper-floors cantilever, which will be clad in metal panels, is rather typical for the city’s new rowhouse construction, although its blue and gray color palette promises to add a somewhat unique touch.
Floor heights will measure 11 feet from slab to slab, likely resulting in generous ten- or ten-plus ceiling heights. Each unit will span an entire floor, and the ground-level apartment will expand to the basement. Balconies at the second and third floors will overlook the rear yard.
When YIMBY last visited the site in January, the property sat cleared, with the three-story rowhouse that previously stood at the site demolished (YIMBY reported on the demo permits just over two years ago in December 2020) and the resulting gap braced with an imposing support array. As of now, the wood-framed, plywood-covered structure stands completed and awaits facade and window installation and interior fitting-out.
The new development at 1810 Federal Street exemplifies a troubling ongoing trend, enabled by the city’s flawed zoning code, which encourages developers to tear down, rather than partially renovate and extend vertically, existing rowhouses and to replace them with new buildings that, due to the city’s very low, 38-foot prevailing height limit, are typically barely larger, if larger at all, than their predecessors.
While the prewar structure torn down at this particular site was rather unremarkable, numerous much finer structures have met the wrecking ball under these ordinances, and the city needs to re-address its policies in order to encourage renovation and upgrades (including vertical extensions) to, rather than destruction of, its venerable rowhouse stock.
The route 2 and 17 buses stop within a block of the property. The Ellsworth-Federal station on the Broad Street Line is situated within a seven-minute walk to the east.