When we mention Northern Liberties on this site, we're usually talking about the newest demolition, construction or adaptive reuse in the neighborhood. It's experienced so much gentrification over the last decade plus, but it has a distinguished history, unique from the rest of the city. "From World’s Workshop to Hipster Mecca and the People in Between" is the subject of a Northern Liberties history exhibit on display at the Philadelphia History Museum at 7th & Market through August 31st where you can learn all about it.
In the late 1800s the riverwards was home to the some of the worlds largest ship building companies. By the time the 1900s rolled along, a number of industrial sites popped up, and the neighborhood was fueled by a wave of immigrants desperate for work and their shot at the fabled American Dream.
In Northern Liberties, N. 3rd Street is already a developed area home to a number of quality establishments like The Abbaye and North Third. Just south of those at 613-25 N. 3rd St., developers are looking to get in on some of the few remaining developable locations in this area by transforming a parking lot into nine single-family homes.
It's not the first time such a project has come up for this site. Back in 2009, there were plans on the table for nine homes here. Then in 2012, the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association approved plans from new developers for nine homes designed by Canno Architecture. One of the homes were listed on the market for just under $450K. But since then, the property has changed hands. New owners, Temple Reserve, a medium-sized company that seems to be breaking out big from the Temple area, purchased the site last July and appeared before the NLNA zoning committee in March with new plans for nine single-family homes, envisioned in a different way (rear-loading two-car garages) and designed by Steve Maffei at Abitare.
We've covered projects in Northern Liberties large and small, and have suggested that as vacant land becomes more scarce, developers will start to look for more and more out-of-the-box locations to build. We confess, we wouldn't have expected to see a project rise at 82 E. Laurel St., but that's exactly what's happening. As you can see on the map, this location sits in the eastern part of the neighborhood, pretty much next to I-95.
Map of the project
A sign on the site, where groundbreaking took place recently, advertises it as the Iron Place Townhomes project. Checking out the project's website, we learn that it will entail the construction of nine new townhomes designed by Abitare. Named after a small street that's parallel to the project, it will be constructed in two phases. The homes will contain three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and garage parking. The first home is under agreement, and the other three homes included in the first phase are on the market for $490K.
If you were shooting a movie near Center City and you needed to film a scene where someone was getting robbed, you might select the dark and drab underpass under I-95, next to 2nd & Spring Garden.
Not what you'd call nice
A few weeks ago, representatives from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation presented their latest design proposal at a Northern Liberties Neighbors Association meeting. The proposed design will feature perforated metal panels with native plant designs to cover our green building-thumb, back-lit by LED lighting that will change color and intensity with the time of day. Hello, future. There also will be hanging fixtures, and an LED strip along the center median, curb bump-outs at 2nd Street and at the El, as well as new signage. Many of the concepts were developed throughout public meetings last spring. Designed by Cloud Gehshan Associates, work is expected to begin this summer and be completed by the fall.