A pre-fab, 6-story apartment building to replace car wash on 4100 block of Chestnut

September 8, 2017

Rendering of one version of the proposed building at 4125 Chestnut Street.

A 130-unit, pre-fab modular building is coming to the 4100 block of Chestnut Street.

The planned building was presented to the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee on Thursday and will replace the Wash ‘n Lube at 4125 Chestnut St. The presentation was mostly a heads up for the community as the project can be built “by right,” meaning it requires very little oversight and no community approval.

The committee considered a proposal earlier in the summer for a 17-story building on the site, but those plans were quickly scuttled, and the property was sold to another developer within the last few weeks. 

Building contractor Vaughan Buckley provided a sneak peak at the two possible building types. Both are wood frame, modular buildings and would feature mostly “junior one bedroom” apartments (think studio with an extra, windowless room) in six stories.

Buckley’s company erected the buildings on the 4600 block of Sansom and nearby on 46th Street.

The project still must go through the city’s civic design review process, which is advisory. The recommendations from that process are not binding.

The property will be managed by a Texas-based company.

Another version of the proposed building.

20 Comments For This Post

  1. Dave Foley Says:

    I will let one or more top architects comment on the proposed edifices.
    But where pray tell will a motorist be able to secure a wash and lube?

  2. leroy Says:

    horrifying. we are again building the kind of housing that destroyed the city 60 years ago. cheap, mean, expedient. this is a huge step back.

  3. antelope Says:

    I repeat, “by right” must be ended by public demand. Can someone who knows edify us on what steps must be taken? It sounds like a city issue, not state or federal. So where would such an effort best focus its energies?

  4. Eric Says:

    Ever hear of mantua hall?

  5. Kate Says:

    Hi, Antelope. Check with’s resources on zoning and the Zoning Board of Adjustment as a starting point.

  6. Leonard Eisenstein Says:

    blame +he neighborhood NIMBYS for crushing wha+ could have been an exci+ing building.

  7. TopArchitecht Says:

    Absolutely stunning – and this stretch of University City is just screaming for this type of sheer elegance. Can we say Bauhaus meets Pei on Chestnut Street. I HAVE seen exclusive mock ups. Gorgeous.

  8. mxg Says:

    I seem to recall that this developer has ties to Councilwoman Blackwell, which must explain why they are able to use a building method that avoids the trade unions. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  9. Meredith Says:

    Of course – much like Post Brothers, no union workers

  10. craig Says:

    Leonard, what are you talking about? I know of no NIMBY’s crushing the previous plans for that site. My understanding is they were withdrawn voluntarily by the owner.

  11. goldenmonkey Says:

    Everyone needs a scapegoat. This is simple economics…dumpy building that will be torn down in 25 years.

    Glad they’re not using Union Labor though. Maybe they’ll threaten the developer’s wife and children while studding the site with boards filled with nails and we’ll get a real show.

  12. Austen Cho Says:

    It’s an ugly lookiny building, and besides, I really like that Wash N’ Lube. I’ll be really sad to see it go, but there’s not really anything we can do about it.

  13. Sue C Says:

    If they are like 46th and Sansom, it’s a quick and cheap build to make back their nut as fast as possible. Cheap materials. No Greenery. They have yards of dumped rocks. Cookie cutter. Probably overpriced rents too.

  14. Phebe Says:

    Just what is “by right”??? What does it mean? How can one get it? This design doesn’t look awful, but it does look cheap. Papier mache?

  15. WPL Says:

    By Right / As-of-Right:
    When the project proposal complies with all zoning provisions
    applicable to the property, an applicant can get a zoning permit from
    L&I “by-right” without any action by the Zoning Board, Planning
    Commission, or City Council. Certain large projects must go through an
    advisory Civic Design Review process.

  16. goldenmonkey Says:

    I can’t believe these people building properties want a fast return on their investment. The nerve! It’s almost like they put up their own money to develop a space and saw a good investment opportunity.

    Personally, I’m all about the Beanie Babies. And pumpkin futures. I’m going to cash in on those futures next Thanksgiving.

  17. AiA Says:

    These buildings are death traps. Windowless bedrooms without a second means of egress in case of fire. It’s unbelievable that the city allows these things to be built. Not the first building either.

  18. goldenmonkey Says:

    If only there was some type of “zoning” based on “experience” and “real-life” instead of hysterical conjecture. I realize it’s merely hypothetical, but what if these buildings were made out of fire-retardant materials instead of wood?

    Remember when the last “new” building erupted in flames killing everyone? Hmmmm…yeah, me neither. You can mock this crappy new architecture all day long on aesthetics and durability, but claiming that they’re “death traps” does your argument a disservice.

  19. ecw Says:

    Ummm, Grenfell Tower for one. Last year. Not a “new” building exactly, but it was new renovations with new “fireproof” cladding that caught fire. I’m not saying that this project will be a death trap, but new buildings are not always safe buildings.

  20. James Says:

    The original 17 story building was considered a by right proposal until it was scuttled by developers and sold to another developer who decided to build a six story building instead, by right. Why was the 17 story deep-sixed?

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