Northern Liberties

But the developer wants to sell it off

Close to I-95 in Northern Liberties, the 800 block of N. Hancock Street possesses an interesting collection of buildings, with a mix of new construction and adaptive reuse. If you'd like, you can preemptively add two more to the new construction side of the ledger as the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association recently supported plans for two single-family homes at 817 N. Hancock St. which would replace a one-story building.

View of the property. Image from Trend.

The homes, designed by Fusa Designs, will join a company of interesting looking buildings, like the three-story brick homes with checkered ground-floor garages. And while they may look relatively normal by neighborhood standards, they'll stand apart from a dimensional perspective. One of the homes will be wide and shallow while the other will be skinny and deep, thanks to the oddly shaped lot upon which they'll sit.

Forty homes at 5th & Poplar looking more likely

If you drive from river to river on Poplar Street, you can see redevelopment trends across various Philadelphia neighborhoods. In Northern Liberties, Front & Poplar was mostly open space as recently as a few years ago, but is now mostly new residential units. In Francisville, at 19th & Poplarnearly the entire intersection and surrounding blocks have been redeveloped. In Brewerytown, we've seen demolition on Poplar of late, and it's a block away from the improving Girard Avenue commercial corridor.

Some homes finished, some homes framed, some foundations too

The 700 block of Front Street has seen some big changes in the last couple of years. And there's more coming.

First, we told you last spring about plans for four new homes on the northwest corner of Front & Fairmount. This site had been a community garden for quite some time, but now it's home to a row of unusually shaped homes. At least one of the homes, the place on the corner, has sold. Two more of them are now listed at $550K which actually seems like a pretty low price for new construction in Northern Liberties.

New homes at Front & Fairmount

As you can see in the image above, there are some additional homes under construction immediately to the north. This is part of a project we first covered over a year ago. This property was a large vacant lot, but now a row of homes have appeared. In between the framed homes and the finished homes there's a row of foundations which will support another row of homes.

Has a pigpen feel to it

Remember the 800 block of N. Leithgow Street in Northern Liberties? A few years back, we visited this little block, noting a bunch of development nearby. We also noted that a tree was growing out of the middle of the street, something you certainly don't see every day.

In the past
The tree we were talking about

It should come as no surprise that access isn't great for this block. If it were a main thoroughfare, the whole tree situation probably wouldn't have gotten so out of hand, you know? This block can only be accessed via Reno Street, which can only be accessed via the 800 block of N. Lawrence Street. Both corners of Lawrence & Reno have been redeveloped in recent years.

View of Reno St., the only entrance to Leithgow St.

Note that Reno is a cobblestone street and has a similar look to the above aerial view of Leithgow Street from a few years back. From what we understand, a developer paved over Reno at one point but was compelled to restore the street to the state we see today. Unfortunately, Leithgow Street needs a similar treatment right now, and in the worst way.

Seems like an underuse

We're fairly confident that 611 N. 2nd St. was once a fire station, but it hasn't been used as such for quite some time. Instead, the building has been used by the fire department for storage and as a counseling center. So it wasn't a huge surprise to learn that the department sold off the property. The use that's now planned for the property however, did not meet our expectations.

Former firehouse

The parcel is pretty big, with 76' of frontage on 2nd Street and going back 115'. You could build eight homes here, as the property goes street to street. Alternately, given the character of 2nd Street, you could go with a mixed-use building with 19 apartments and retail downstairs. Considering the incredible demand for housing in this neighborhood, either project would seem like a slam dunk. 

But instead, the building will remain and it will be converted into a motorcycle shop. Christini has been in the bike business for twenty years, and they more recently introduced their own brand of motorcycles. The space will include a showroom and they will also do some limited design and assembly onsite. The owners presented to NLNA last month and the project was well received, so it looks like this thing is a go.

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