Northern Liberties

Not expected but not a huge shock either

Marshall Street between Poplar and Girard was once a bustling commercial corridor, full of shops and pushcarts like the Italian Market. Philaplace gives a lovely telling of the history of this stretch, and explains that a combination of white flight and a redevelopment plan from the 1950s that never came to fruition ultimately sunk most of the Marshall Street businesses. The street never really recovered and it looks pretty bad today. Many of the buildings remaining on the block appear to have residential tenants, but the storefronts are mostly shuttered. And there's not shortage of vacant lots either.

Some older buildings on Marshall Street

But there's something funny happening on the 900 block of Marshall Street. New homes are getting built. Two have risen to date, at 922 and 936 N. Marshall St., one of which has already sold. 936 N. Marshall St. is currently on the market for $550K.

Project has dragged some and changed over time

A couple of years ago, we were very pleased to bring you the news that the former Pride of the Sea warehouse at 4th & Brown was being demolished, and that new homes would rise in its place. We're generally bummed when handsome old churches or row homes come down in favor of new development, but this building was adding nothing to the neighborhood. And even if someone wanted to reuse it, we wonder whether that fish smell ever comes out.

In the past

The demolition took place back in June of 2012, and we expected to see two new homes rise on 4th Street and three more on Brown Street. The project, which was called Foundry Court, was of particular interest because of a partnership with with Nexus EnergyHomes to build the first Net Zero homes in Philadelphia. Plans included the use of geothermal heating and cooling and extremely tight building envelopes. From what we can tell looking at a past and current listing for the 4th Street homes, the project moved forward with only those two properties. The 3,000 sqft home at 718 N. 4th St. is currently on the market for $779,900.

This project seems to be taking forever

Back in the summer of 2012 we told you that Penn Herb, a leading herbal remedy store, would be demolishing their store and several other buildings at 2nd & Green and replacing them with a new building that would contain a new flagship store and fourteen apartments. By November, the old buildings were gone and construction was underway. The speed from announcement to the start of construction suggested that the buildout would run swiftly, but that hasn't been the case. More than a year later, the building was only built up to one story. Almost another entire year has passed and the project is still just sort of creeping along. It's interesting to compare this timeline with that of the Summit at University City, which has risen almost all of its 24 stories in half the time.

Current view

We reached out to Penn Herb to check on the status of the project, as a reader checked in recently to inform us that construction was apparently stalled. According to the Penn Herb people, work is ongoing inside even though not much has happened outside for several months. Assuming that's the case and things are moving along inside, it seems that the building will wrap up sometime next year.

Future is unclear

The 800 block of N. Lawrence St. has gone through some big changes in the last few years. A couple of one-off projects have replaced vacant lots and older buildings, and a delayed condo building is finally up as well. Half of the Duck Flats project has replaced a large vacant lot. On the west side of the block, Seventeen at Lawrence is moving along well, with the Orkney Street side framed and sheathed and framing underway for the side on Lawrence Street.

They'll join their sister homes soon

As we're sometimes wont to do, we were meandering around some of the lesser known streets in Northern Liberties this week, looking for some projects that are perhaps off the beaten path. This is a great neighborhood for such wandering, chock full of blocks that stop and start. And there's the occasional log cabin. When we got to the skinny 1000 block of N. Leithgow St., we came upon four new looking foundations. Then we remembered we actually wrote about them about a year and a half ago.

Looking up skinny Leithgow St.
The foundations

Back then, 1018 and 1020 N. Leithgow St. were under construction and the foundations pictured above were a well tended vacant lot. In the time that's passed, one of the homes sold for $508K. The other is on the market for just under $650K. With 2,500 sqft of living space over four floors and a parking spot, we would not be surprised to see the developers get close to this price. And soon, four more homes will rise next door.

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