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Indy Hall's cohousing effort keeps moving along in South Kensington

Hope St. between Palmer and Cecil B. Moore in South Kensington is currently cloaked in abandonment, aside from the trash and weeds that call the block home. Yet, the street may finally live up to its name, as Independents Hall, the popular Philly coworking space, is looking to construct a sustainable cohabitation space between Hope and Howard Sts. This house, called a "K'House,” just received the blessing from the South Kensington Community Partners neighborhood group at a meeting on Thursday, and now awaits an endorsement from the local city councilwoman and the City Planning Commission.

Indy Hall has teamed up with the noted sustainable construction pioneers Postgreen Homes and the architectural firm Digsau to build the K'House. Postgreen plans to build six housing units, designed for both romantic couples and roommates. Each unit will come equipped with its own kitchen and living quarters. Yet, the real story lies in all the shared space between the units, which will be comprised of an industrial kitchen and dining area, a media center, a basement, and a roof deck with a Center City vista. 

As with other Postgreen projects, sustainability will be a guiding principle in the construction of the K'House. This means the house will include "super insulated walls, triple pane windows, Energy Star appliances, high efficiency HVAC, low-flow water fixtures, [and] low VOC [Volatile Organic Compounds] everything,” says Chad Ludeman, the president of Postgreen. Ludeman adds that the location was purposely chosen for its proximity to SEPTA's Berks El stop and walkability. Thus, along with the sustainable elements on the inside, the house will also promote sustainable transportation.

Postgreen and Indy Hall feel as though South Kensington is an ideal neighborhood for the K'House. Ludeman, who lives in the community himself, says that residents can walk to either Northern Liberties or Fishtown, or take a relatively quick train ride to Center City and University City. In addition, "this neighborhood is very much an up-and-coming fringe neighborhood that has passionate residents, both old and new,” points out Ludeman. Finally, Postgreen's president lauds South Kensington for its safety and affordability.

The developers' recent experience with the South Kensington Community Partners only served to bolster their morale in the community. Ludeman is happy to report that the preponderance of feedback from the meeting was supportive or neutral of the K'House, even though the plans call for further density with no further parking. There were some queries about street lighting and fallback plans if the K'House hits a snag, as residents wanted to see the developers' maintain a long-term presence in their neighborhood. Indy Hall's Alex Hillman says that they will continue to listen to their neighbors.

Ludeman is happy with the reaction from the Community Partners, but is already tracing the Postgreen's and Indy Hall's next steps. He says they will next pursue the support of their local councilwoman, Maria Quinones Sanchez, and the City Planning Commission. After that, he anticipates going in front of the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) to get a variance for type of use, a shortage on the open space requirement, and lack of parking. For those of you looking for a place to live, the good news is Indy Hall is still accepting applications to join the K'House.

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Sources: Chad Ludeman, Postgreen Homes and Alex Hillman, Independents Hall
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