The lot at the corner of 17th and South streets has long been empty. If you've been in the area in the last few months, though, you may have noticed a development in progress at a weather-delayed crawl. That's because PP Development and architecture firm Harman Deutsch intend to use that space for nine apartments and one ground-floor commercial space. Eugene Bukh, owner of PP Development, tells us the units — eight one-bedrooms and one two-bedroom — will be ready for mid-June and early July rentals, starting at $1,700 a month.
“All the underground work — as far as mechanics — is done. Now we're in the framing stage,” explains Bukh. “We're starting to frame the third floor. Hopefully we'll start brickwork in a week.”
One concern among neighbors is about who’s using the commercial space. “When I started the project about three years ago, I needed a good tenant,” says Bukh. “I didn't have the capital to overpay for the lots, and I had to compensate. That's business. I looked at a handful of national AAA tenants, and 7-11 was the first to bite. That provided the necessary funds to move the project forward.
“Some of the neighbors want something more mom-and-pop style or a restaurant.”
While the convenience store may not be anyone's first pick for what they'd like to see in this space, it might not be a boon to the area. Consider, for instance, the hospital, Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse, which is a block away. A 24-hour convenience store might see a fair amount of business from hospital employees. And sure, a new eatery would be great, but when you're at 17th and South, you're a stone's throw from places like Rex 1516, Pumpkin and the Cambridge, and watering holes like Bob and Barbara's and Jet Wine Bar. There is no shortage of nearby delis, either.
Bukh notes a lack in luxury apartments in the area. “It's mostly older, smaller apartments,” he says, “or newer homes. There aren't too many luxury rentals in this neighborhood, but I think the area is pretty much ready for some.”
An appealing case
When we spoke with Bukh, he was dealing with more than just 7-11 naysayers. While 1701 South Street has seen approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, attorney Doug Risen has been trying to appeal the ZBA decision. “He’s appealed it each step of the way,” says Bukh. But when asked why Risen might be after 1701 South, Bukh couldn't say much more than “he has issues with the building” — which is clear.