Northern Liberties

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.

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.