Permits have been issued for the construction of a four-story, three-unit apartment building at 2003 North 9th Street near Temple University in North Philadelphia. The development is set to fill a vacant lot on the east side of the block between West Norris and Diamond streets. Designed by Danilo C. Vicencio, the building will hold 2,880 square feet and feature a roof deck. Permits list Ahmed S. Jonny as the contractor and specify a construction cost of $200,000.
The proposed building will measure 16 feet wide and 38 feet long, leaving space for a three-foot-wide alleyway to the south of the structure as well as a seven-and-a-half-foot-wide rear yard, much of which will be taken up by an exterior stair bank that will extend to all four floors, a rather unusual feature for new construction in the city. The floor-to-floor height will measure nine feet and eight inches at the ground level and eight feet on the floors above, likely lending a ceiling height of just over eight feet on most floors. As is generally the case with new construction throughout Philadelphia, the height of individual floors, and thus the subsequent quality of the housing stock, is diminished by the city’s downright silly height restrictions.
If the proposal at 2003 North 9th Street had not already reached its maximum allowable height of 38 feet to the main roof (47 feet to the roof bulkhead), the builders would have been able to increase the height of individual floors and even add new stories and apartments, possibly serviced by an elevator, in a density-increasing move appropriate for this transit-adjacent location.
During the postwar period, depopulation and subsequent demolitions have devastated large swathes of North Central Philadelphia. Over the past two decades, however, Temple University, in response to its sustained demand for student housing, has served as a major catalyst for a revival of the surrounding area, with numerous new developments, primarily residential, involving renovation of existing buildings and ground-up construction on vacant lots throughout the neighborhood. As recently as ten years ago, all four lots at the intersection of 9th and Norris streets sat vacant (with the exception of the southwest corner, which was used as a parking lot).
Since that time, new developments have risen at three of the four corners, as well as all along the adjacent blocks. Like much of North Central Philadelphia, in a short span of a few years, the once-desolate streetscape has once again become home to an influx of densely built housing with an urbane ambiance. The proposal at 2003 North 9th Street will fill one of the last remaining vacant lots in the immediate vicinity. This construction surge may be explained not only by the two-block proximity to the university, but also by the adjacent Temple University Station on the regional rail, which offers a rapid and direct commute to Center City and University City, as well as rapid transit access throughout the Philadelphia metro area.
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