Northern Liberties

Different projects are in different places

A little over a year ago, we checked in on three properties on 2nd Street in Northern Liberties and felt optimistic that we'd soon see all of them developed. Some time has passed, and now seems like as good a time as any to check in, especially since two of the properties are now in a different state.

Construction finally moving at 966 N. 2nd St.

Buildings were sitting blighted and vacant for many years at 966 N. 2nd St., but developers purchased the property and tore down the buildings in the summer of 2015. Shortly after, we told you about plans to build a mixed-use building here, with underground parking, retail on the first floor, and 13 apartments. Looking today at the permits, we see the building will have animal services in that retail space, but we don't know whether that means doggie daycare, a vet, or something else. We'd have thought that the building would have made more progress by now, but you can see that the workers on the site are only now getting beyond underground work. The good news is that the project is finally moving and we expect it'll be done sometime later this year.

A long awaited sequel to the original

A new addition has appeared on Laurel Street in Northern Liberties, representing the second phase of a project that began over a decade ago. According to a story in Arch Daily, Capital Meats was located at 144-158 W. Laurel St. for about 80 years, closing in 1989. After the business closed, the buildings quickly fell into disrepair, looking absolutely terrible by 1999, when folks from Onion Flats took their first tour. They purchased the property, demolishing the structure at the corner of Hancock & Laurel and converting the remaining building into 8 units, dubbed Capital Flats. This project was finished in 2002 and looked pretty much the same until last year.

Plans have been in the works for over a year

Northern Liberties was once a hub of industry, but only a handful of industrial businesses remain in the neighborhood as it has swung aggressively toward residential development over the last decade plus. And as land has become more valuable, we've seen some of the exodus first hand, with a notable example being the Trans Atlantic Company leaving the 400 block of Fairmount Avenue in favor of a residential project that's a combination of new construction and adaptive reuse. A similar but much smaller situation may soon play out at 1143 N. 3rd St., a warehouse that's been home to Cristalvetro Glass for a number of years.

Who would expect a chicken coop at this corner?

We were cruising through Northern Liberties last week, daydreaming of warmer weather, when a zoning notice caught our eye from a distance. There's a small vacant lot at 231 W. Wildey St. which is surrounded by a wooden fence decorated by images of flowers that look like roses to us. This lot has been sitting empty for many years, though the mural on the fence was only added in 2011.

Looking west on Wildey St.

Closer look at the corner

Seeing the zoning notice, we casually assumed that another in the shrinking list of vacant lots on the neighborhood would soon be getting redeveloped and we figured that developers would be building a pair of new homes here. Looking at public record, we saw that the same owner has owned this property since 2007, but we assumed that it would just be a matter of time before public record reflected a sale to developers. And then we looked at the L&I Map to find out about the zoning application and we realized that all our assumptions were wildly off base. Here, we'll cut and paste the text of the zoning application or you might not believe us. And we'll do it in two parts for dramatic effect.


Will fill in many gaps on the street

We've visited Marshall Street between Poplar and Girard a couple times over the years and have seen some major improvement in a very short amount of time. As we've told you before, this street was the heart of the Jewish pushcart market back in the early 1900s but has been in severe decline since the 1950s. Just two years ago, we were surprised to see that a couple of homes were rising close to Poplar Street because the block was pretty much as disaster near Girard. Earlier this year, we discovered improvement on the northern end of the block as we told you that the former Kneses Israel Anshe S'fard synagogue was getting converted into apartments and pointed out other development nearby. Recently, another significant project got underway here, a 13-home workforce housing development from BMK Homes.