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What's Happening in:  Newbold 

Shocker! New three-story home in Point Breeze

Those South Philly rowhouses can start feeling cramped, especially as we require more to maintain a certain quality of life, so it’s no wonder that homeowners want to expand upwards.

The proposal

The owners of the property at 1821 S. Hicks St. are trying to do just that by adding more square footage by building out the second story, constructing a third level, and creating roof garden. This might not seem like a big deal, but such expansion was a hot-button issue that divided the community last year when a bill attempted to ban third-story additions and roof gardens for one year, was proposed (and subsequently killed). Three-story homes have been quite the hot topic in the neighborhood for a while now.

The renovation proposal was taken up last week by the Newbold Neighbors Association zoning committee, which promptly offered support. Although the NNA was a bit concerned that the owners, M. Homes Investments, were unable to attend two previous meetings (they were tending to family matters in Mexico), the committee backed up the development of a long-time derelict property.
Much better than what’s there now

As the owners’ attorney, David G. Orphanides demonstrated with a nifty shadow study, there would be limited impact on neighbors in the surrounding area. Plus, the envisioned design, complete with a mansard roof, is a vast improvement of the current condition. The owners plan to sell the property if/when the renovations are complete, rather than renting it.

The shadow knows…This is supposed to show something about shadows. 
That’s if you look reeeeeaaaaally close

If you have an opinion on the house, or other thoughts on three-story addtions in the neighborhood, you can share them at the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s public hearing on Feb. 5 at 9:30 a.m at 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor.

- Paulina Reso, @paulinareso

You curious about something west of Broad? You may have noticed we’re keeping an eye out over there, too. Drop us a line at so we can answer those questions you’ve been dying to ask.


One Response to Shocker! New three-story home in Point Breeze

  1. Ian Toner January 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    In an attempt to clarify the zoning code for typical rowhouse blocks:

    1) If your property is on a corner, you can build three stories with no variance.

    2) If your property is next to an existing three-story property, you can build three stories with no variance.

    3) If your property is next to only two-story properties, you can build a third story, but it has to be pulled back at least eight feet from the street line (or you need a variance).

    For more information, you can refer to The Philadelphia Code, Title 14:

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