East Kensington is starting to see almost as much new development as neighboring South Kensington. The Front Street corridor is seeing new residential and commercial development, even the headquarters of local retail businesses and artists’ studios. New development is starting to occur west of Front Street, further into the East Kensington neighborhood. This new development includes residential and certain kinds of commercial space, such as artists’ studios and creative office space. Some of this new development is renovating vacant former industrial buildings and some of the new development is replacing those vacant former industrial buildings, and a few are doing both of those things. A new multifamily development is being built by Onion Flats and designed by their architecture firm, Plumbob. This development will be residential and commercial and is located on a property at 2005 to 2021 North Howard Street and North Hope Street. It is mostly replacing a former one-story warehouse, that has a saw-tooth roof, and will include a small two-story building at the West Norris Street side. This development is being called “Copper Flats”.
Copper Flats will have eighty duplex rental units where the warehouse is now. There will be eight artists’ studios on the first floors facing the North Howard and North Hope Streets sides. The exterior of these units will have dark brown brick, brown metal panels, and balconies with metal shading screens. There will be 26 parking spaces behind the artists’ studios on the first level. There will be bicycle storage. The roof will have a green roof and solar panels in a sawtooth pattern, similar to the warehouse being demolished. The developers want Copper Flats to be LEED-certified and are employing very energy efficient Passive House – Net Zero technology and building features. Passive House – Net Zero technology and building features allow the development to use very little energy and create new energy, so that the whole development creates as much energy as it uses and has no carbon footprint. The two-story building along Norris Street, that will remain, will be converted into offices for Onion Flats, with two apartments at the corners of the first floor.
Copper Flats helps develop East Kensington as a creative hub and a popular residential neighborhood, after decades of decline. The development is a block and a half away from the Berks Station of the Market/Frankford line. As East Kensington develops, more mixed-use projects will bring housing, creative spaces, and retail to a neighborhood that is constantly growing in popularity. Onion Flats helped to revitalize Northern Liberties and now they are bringing innovative new developments to a new neighborhood.