When many people think of Philadelphia, they picture the quaint neighborhoods of Center City, filled with Revolutionary-era architecture and period details. But it could be argued that an entirely different history is told in the slouching rows of aged brick homes and vacant lots that line the streets of North Philadelphia.
And it is in these very neighborhoods that the beginnings of a new phase in the city’s aesthetic and cultural history can be seen. When the City won a bid to develop a chunk of land in Francisville owned by the Redevelopment Authority, veteran Philadelphia real estate developer Equinox Property Management and Construction teamed up with green urban design mavericks PostGreen Homes for a project that they knew could mark a major turning point in the city’s green urban infrastructure.
“This neighborhood and specific location reminded us a lot of our beginnings in East Kensington,” says PostGreen President Chad Ludeman, refering to the 100K House.
With support from the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Francisville project, known as the Folsom Powerhouse, will break ground on the 1700 block of Folsom Street this fall, and will include 31 mixed-use condo units and singlefamily homes ranging from around $200,000 to $450,000. A central feature of the development is the “super stoop,” which is designed to make the sidewalks an ideal space for socializing and connecting the community.
“Folsom is utilizing the best strategies that we’ve developed over the past five years and should yield some of the most energy–efficient homes in the city and the country,” says Ludeman. “We have greatly improved a lot of interior finishing options and are implementing some of the best facade materials used to date with a mixture of recycled brick, wood and metal.”
In addition to using cutting-edge sustainable urban planning principles, the developers enlisted community members and stakeholders to participate in conceiving the planned community’s cultural aspects.
“We are very excited to see how the ‘super stoop’ and artist-designed street furniture contribute to the social environment on this now mostly vacant block,” says Ludeman. “It’s our hope that this project and others like it give something concrete to inspire continued improvement in smaller-scale development, both in Philadelphia and beyond.”
Story by Courtney Sexton