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  • Writer's pictureAndre Watson

Extremely enticing spot': Kensington tire shop site eyed for 157-unit apartment building

A proposed 157-unit residential building at Frankford and Lehigh avenues in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood.

The site of a tire shop in Kensington could be transformed into a 157-unit apartment building on the corner of East Lehigh and Frankford avenues as part of a vision by developer Isaac Singleton to help "activate" the neighborhood.

“We think bringing more eyes to the community, bringing more retail to the community, bringing more light into the community is going to be great for overall safety and just a community environment,” Singleton said.

The building, at 2001 E. Lehigh Ave., would stand six stories tall along with 59 underground car parking spots and 7,763 square feet of commercial space. The property is zoned for ICMX, or industrial commercial mixed use, which doesn’t allow for residential. Singleton is requesting a variance to accommodate the residential use and an extra 8 feet of height. The proposed building would be 68-feet tall but the current height maximum is 60 feet.

Renderings of the building show commercial space with a grocery store, fitness club and fast-casual restaurant.

Singleton said he hopes to "activate the commercial space of the neighboring properties."

A rendering shows the proposed 157-unit apartment building with 7,763 square feet of commercial space at 2001 E. Lehigh Ave.

The Lehigh Avenue property is owned by James H. Boyd Jr. and it’s been in the family for decades, evolving from a mechanic shop to a tire shop, Singleton said. An agreement is in place for Singleton to buy the property after the approvals are received.

Singleton, 27, works for real estate firm the How Group, but is developing this project on his own. Singleton has worked in development in Philadelphia for eight years. Designblendz is the project’s architect.

Singleton called it an “extremely enticing spot” because of the proximity to neighborhoods like Port Richmond and Fishtown that have experienced a boom in new development. The site is less than a half-mile from both the Huntingdon and Somerset stations along SEPTA’s Market-Frankford line.

A proposed 157-unit building with 7,763 square feet of commercial space at 2001 E. Lehigh Ave. on the northern corner of Frankford and East Lehigh avenues.

He sees the East Lehigh Avenue corridor as an opportunity for successful commercial space. The site is just north of Kensington Courts, which is on East Lehigh Avenue on the opposite side of Frankford Avenue. Kensington Courts includes a 75-unit apartment complex and 86 single-family or duplex homes developed by The Riverwards Group. The apartment complex was sold last year for $21.3 million.

“We want to help bring people to the community,” Singleton said, “activate all of those commercial spaces to really make East Lehigh Avenue a commercial corridor that's a big destination in the city.”

While the property fronts East Lehigh Avenue, the back of the property is adjacent to a Conrail train line and is filled with trees. Singleton said it looks like “a jungle.” While those trees would need to be removed for the development, Singleton said he plans to replace them with street trees native to the area.

The project is scheduled to go before Philadelphia's Civic Design Review committee on Sept. 5. Singleton estimates the approvals could be received in early 2024 and the full development could be completed in up to three years from now.

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