Who’s Building Philly: Sean Schellenger

Schellenger on the roof deck of one of his recently completed homes in Point Breeze. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Developing property in Philadelphia resembles running an obstacle course. There are numerous permits a builder must receive in order to start even a project that can be built by right. And if a zoning variance is required, the builder needs to jump through several more hoops involving community groups and a zoning review board.

When Sean Schellenger decided to go into the development business, he knew that the key to his success would be to create a system where he could build a large number of homes in a short period of time. So he sought to streamline the whole process from initial land purchase to turning over the keys. The business he formed to do all this is called — what else? — Streamline Solutions. Read more »

First-Time Find: Industrial Loft in Old Kensington for $300K

1524 N. Hancock St. #304, Philadelphia, Pa. 19122 | TREND images via Coldwell Banker Preferred

This loft has bricks, beams and beauty. With its industrial interior, beamed ceilings, hardwood floor and steel accents, this space in a former steel factory in Old Kensington is at once warm and cool, effortlessly exuding unique personality. If you’re single or simply looking to settle down with your significant other, this apartment is a bargain buy for those looking to get a foothold on city life. There are few better places to do it than this lively, up-and-coming neighborhood that’s rapidly filling with young people, new restaurants and shops. Read more »

How A Piece of the Mediterranean Landed in South Kensington

French doors and balconies with iron railings abound in Jeannie DeCarlo’s home on North Hancock Street in Old Kensington, which sold for just about what she asked for it last week. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted

Painter Jeannie DeCarlo, says broker Stephanie Somers, is “a tough lady. It’s hard to get her to laugh. But when she does, you know you’ve gained her favor.”

Somers, co-owner of RE/MAX Access with her husband Christopher, had many a laugh with DeCarlo as she set about achieving what seemed impossible: selling a one-of-a-kind house on a not-yet-gentrified South Kensington block for a price no other home in the area has fetched.

I also shared a few laughs with DeCarlo when I visited her home to tell its story. And in its story you find diCarlo’s determined personality and ultimately sunny spirit shining through. Read more »

43 New Townhouses Coming to Northern Liberties

Rendering of Liberty Square townhouse project by Atrium Design Studio via PRDC Properties

This landed in the Property inbox a few days ago: an announcement from PRDC Properties that it would soon begin work on a 43-unit townhouse development at the southern edge of Northern Liberties.

Designed by Atrium Design Studio, the project hits all the usual high notes: sleek modern design with brick, steel and glass outside, and roomy (3,100- to 3,800-square-foot) three- and four-bedroom units with such features as 10-foot-high ceilings, quartz countertops in the kitchens, Porcelanosa bathrooms, enchanting roof decks and community green space. And, of course, garage parking for one or two cars per unit: even though PRDC CEO David Perlman said in a news release that “the project was designed with walkability in mind,” this is Northern Liberties, after all, and no residential project that would put more resident cars on the street would pass muster with the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.

The name of the project: Liberty Square.

Which is also the name of a much larger development now under construction a little bit to the north, on the South Kensington side of Girard Avenue. Read more »

Report: “Anarchists” Vandalize Cars, Apartments in South Kensington

About 30 people vandalized a number of luxury cars and newly-constructed apartment buildings in South Kensington last night, according to NBC10.

Police reportedly described the vandals as “anarchists.” About 20 cars and several buildings were damaged near the intersection of 2nd and Jefferson streets.

Windows were smashed and paint was splattered across the outside of apartments. A banner discovered at the scene of the incident read “Gentrification is death, Revolt is Life.”  Read more »

Neighbors Weigh In on American Street’s Future


This illustration shows what a typical block with a bioswale in part of its median would look like. | Image from Gilmore & Associates for the City of Philadelphia

This illustration shows what a typical block with a bioswale in part of its median would look like. | Image from Gilmore & Associates for the City of Philadelphia

As Philadelphia went through its industrial revolution that made it “The Workshop of the World,” one of its greatest industrial districts was the one that arose along American Street in Kensington thanks to a Reading Railroad branch line.

Most of that industry is now gone, and what remains is on a much smaller scale. But the street remains huge — and foreboding to some, thanks to its desolate appearance, a byproduct of that deindustrialization. This has led to an unusual partnership between three city agencies aimed at both remaking the street for a mixed-use future and turning it into a showcase for green infrastructure.

At a public open house on July 26, representatives of the Streets Department, the Water Department and the City Planning Commission invited residents of South Kensington (Old Kensington), West Kensington and Norris Square to give their opinions about what issues the city should address first when rebuilding the street. Read more »

Manufacturing Philadelphia Tech Jobs: A New “Factory” to Rise on American Street

1525 North American Street

Streamline’s “jobs factory” pays homage to American Street’s past – and, the developers hope, its future. Rendering | Harman Deutsch Architecture

[Updated Jan. 27, 5:30 p.m. to indicate that a vote has yet to take place.]

South Kensington (or Old Kensington, to some) has historically been part of the city’s industrial heart, but lately developers responding to the residential boom in neighboring Northern Liberties and Fishtown have been giving those old industrial buildings heart transplants such as the one the current home of Spencer Industries on Mascher Street is about to get.

The city, it appears, hasn’t abandoned the notion that South Kensington can still be home to industry completely, though. American Street, an extra-wide north-south thoroughfare between Second and Third streets that still has a freight railroad line running down its middle (long abandoned, alas), is still mostly zoned industrial, and there’s still a Keystone Opportunity Zone designation intended to lure job-creating businesses running the length of the street in Kensington.

Yet most of these industrial-zoned lots remain vacant, like the one Streamline Solutions, a local development firm that specializes in residential projects, purchased on the east side of American Street, extending from Jefferson Street almost all the way to Oxford Street. Surrounding the lot are mostly residential structures, including a row of houses on the block’s Oxford Street side that clearly predate its I-2 zoning.

This would seem to be a great place to build new residences. But the lot’s zoned industrial, which means a variance would be required to build any residential structure.

Which led Streamline co-CEO Sean Frankel to propose a novel solution to the problem: Build townhomes on the back half of the lot and a “factory” of a different sort on the front.

“I spoke with our architects, and they said it was zoned for industrial and manufacturing,” he said. “I asked them if there was anything else we could do on the site.”

And that’s when Frankel had his epiphany: “I said, ‘We’re going to manufacture tech jobs.'”

Read more »

Olde Kensington Gets an Outdoor Trapeze School


“Soar Through the Air With the Greatest of Ease on Kensington’s Flying Trapeze!” That’s what the poster would say if P.T. Barnum were advertising the Fly School Circus Arts’ move to 1620 North Fifth Street. From suburban Bucks County to gritty Fifth and Cecil B. Moore — that’s quite a change.

Read more »

Enormous Live/Work Space Takes “Studio” to New Levels

Sometimes studio means a small living space. Sometimes it means a place to do your creative work. Sometimes it means a living space inside the place where you do your creative work. This? This loft is not that. This loft is nearly 5,000 square feet of space where you can live luxuriously, do your creative work and – if the listing photos are to be believed – apparently have room left over to park at least two motorcycles inside.

Read more »

Manayunk to Get a New Co-Working Space, Plus the Wild West in Wash West

CBS 3 gets podcasty to talk about the new two-day First Friday in Old City [CBS3]
A Piece Of Wild West History In Historic Wash West [Hidden City]
Collingswood loves its parklet [philly.com]
Two brothers propose innovative co-working vision for old Manayunk building [Newsworks]
At Maplewood Mall block party, opinions vary about upcoming $2.2 million redesign [Newsworks]
Newest Old Kensington proposal one mega-project too many, neighbors say [Philadelphia Real Estate Blog]

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