Northern Liberties

A familiar theme in this neighborhood

In Northern Liberties there must be a never-ending stock of vacant lots and unused industrial spots, because at least every other month, plans for a large project seem to pop up on the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association zoning agenda.

The latest example is 312-30 Fairmount Ave., where last month developer David Perlman proposed 27 homes, each with parking. One major bit of feedback from NLNA was to cut the height of the homes to 38 feet. “We're generally okay with the project,” said Larry Freedman, NLNA zoning chair, “except for the structure furthest east.”

The property on Fairmount Ave.
View on 4th Street

The property includes a few old warehouse buildings on Fairmount Ave. and 4th St., and members of the NLNA wondered whether developers could salvage one section, a brick element of the property on the east side that includes carriage doors that run nearly to the top of the building. Adaptive reuse would certainly be an attractive aesthetic, but we're not certain that approach would work for this project.

Blends in with other recent projects nearby

In Northern Liberties, there are a handful of lesser known blocks, sometimes cutting diagonal through more recognizable streets. As has been the case on their more prominent sister blocks, we've likewise been seeing consistent development on smaller blocks the past few years. 

The Northern Liberties Neighbors Association recently supported plans from developer Chris Sincavage to convert an old garage at 950 N. Leithgow St. into three-story residential (something we've seen lots of nearby in Fishtown) by renovating the existing building and constructing two floors on top. The ZBA gave their approval last week.

Looking up Leithgow St.
Closer look at the property

The block is one of those alley-sized ones that's been filled in with new residential homes the past few years. You can see on the right side of the image above, some homes that have arrived on the scene quite recently. Looking south on the block, we see some other projects that have appeared over the last number of years.

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.