Northern Liberties

Demolition could be a sign of things to come

With the growth of Northern Liberties on one side and South Kensington on the other, a bunch of new buildings have risen and some others are in the works on the West Girard corridor. In addition, some older buildings have been renovated, attracting new businesses. By the time you get to 7th Street though, most of that momentum has petered out. It actually gets kind of depressing, despite the presence of Tiffin on the 700 block. A couple of years ago, we showed you just how vibrant this area once was, with a collection of small businesses and the Girard Theater. The former theater has been a market for decades, a change that happened even when the block was still in good shape. Unfortunately, the current Fine Fare has been stripped of all the wonderful details that made the theater so grand.

A long time ago
Current view from the other direction

At the risk of repeating ourselves, it seems possible that this stretch could be poised for a recovery in the not-too-distant-future. At the corner of Marshall & Girard, developers purchased a double-wide shell about a year ago. Sometime over the last few months, they tore it down. The loss of those buildings is actually a big improvement for the block- they looked really bad.

Several projects moving along

Front Street north of Fairmount in Northern Liberties is in the middle of a series of big changes. We took a walk in the area last week to check up on the changing face of Front Street here, from industrial to residential.

To start, right away at Front & Fairmount, construction is progressing on four homes designed by KJO Architecture. Back in May, the foundations were dug and the parcel fenced in. Now, the four homes are framed out, already lending a new perspective to the block. Next, at Front & Brown. there are the Penn Treaty Village Pennthouses. In early August we told you that the second phase of the project from Core Realty, run by Michael Samschick, was moving along nicely.  Samshick is also behind the ambitious conversion of several long vacant Richmond Street warehouses into an entertainment complex (there is lots of work going on over there in conjunction with this project). The first phase of the Penn Treaty Village Penthouses was rolled out in 2012.

Hidden block getting in on the action

It's possible you've never heard of New Market Street in Northern Liberties, though we've written about it on several occasions. A north-south street between Front and 2nd Streets, it once stretched from Spring Garden Street to Germantown Avenue, but the construction of I-95 consumed most of it, chopping off everything south of Poplar. But even though it's hidden, it hasn't been immune to the development bug in the neighborhood. Today we revisit two medium-sized projects under construction on this street.

In the past
Current view

We first told you about 924-28 New Market St. a couple of years ago, back when it was a wide old stucco-front building that housed a fence company. Looking into its history, we learned that the building was once a church and then the D'rshe Tov synagogue, which moved to the northeast in the 1960s. Last spring, we discovered plans to demolish the building and replace it with five homes. As you can see, only one home actually fronts New Market Street, with the rest recessed and accessed with a drive-aisle. It's a shame the former religious building was taken down, but it looked like it was beyond preservation.

Shells and vacant lots dropping like flies

A couple days ago, after we enjoyed a coffee at One Shot and after we noticed the finished construction next door which is now home to DnA Salon, we headed south down American Street and spied a little more construction activity. At 1004 N. American St., a kind of unfortunate addition has appeared, with a slightly different color brick on the third floor facade giving it away. At 1006 N. American St., there's a new home that's replaced a vacant lot that's on the skinny side.

Framing well underway

Months ago, we told you about plans for seventeen new homes on the 800 blocks of Lawrence and Orkney Streets in Northern Liberties. Back then, the warehouse that was once home to Marcis Wire Works had just been demolished at 812-32 N. Lawrence St., and a snow covered pile of rubble foretold better things. If you visit the site today, however, the rubble is as long gone as the snow. Instead, nine homes fronting Orkney Street have been framed out.

Construction moving along. Image from the company that did the project website.

The homes will be large and fancy, according to the project website (like it would say otherwise!). Look for 2,600 to 3,000 sqft of living space with home widths between nineteen and twenty-one feet. Each home will also have rear-access, two-car parking, accessed via a curb cut on Lawrence Street. No idea how that will work when the Lawrence Street homes get built as the second phase of the project, but it won't be an issue long-term. Look for the first run of homes to finish in the spring. Check out these renderings, which are a different look than the renderings we showed by before.

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