Stone’s On the Outs, Mixed-Use Building On the Way at 17th & Fairmount

Some projects we cover are from way out in left field, like a 32-unit apartment building in the middle of Port Richmond, or a random triplex near 8th & Master. Other projects though, are so intuitively logical that when they finally come around, we find ourselves feeling like we’re gonna have a heart attack and die from not surprise. As you might imagine, it’s the latter case with this particular story, a plan to redevelop the northwest corner of 17th & Fairmount. For as long as we can remember, this corner has been home to Stone’s Beverage Center, a beer distributor. But times are changing.

NW corner of 17th & Fairmount
Better view of Stone's

A reader reached out yesterday, giving us the heads up that zoning notices have been posted to the property. Those zoning notices indicate plans to demolish the existing building and construct a mixed-use building with two retail spaces on the first floor and 22 apartments on the three upper floors of the building. The name on the zoning notice is Michael Loonstyn, a developer that’s built numerous projects on and around Fairmount Avenue over the last several years. But he’s not alone- several developers have taken an acute interest in Fairmount Avenue during the current development cycle. Hence, our total lack of surprise in learning about this project.

New Rybread, in new mixed-use building next door
Bornot Dye Works Lofts, across the street
1720 Fairmount, down the block

Immediately next door, Loonstyn recently constructed a mixed-use building with ten units, on a property that was previously a one-story garage. Over the summer, the excellent Rybread moved their operations to the retail space here, from cramped quarters on the 2300 block. On the southeast corner of 17th & Fairmount, MM Partners redeveloped the AF Bornot Lofts a couple years back, a project that includes 17 apartments and several retail spaces. That building had been sitting vacant for so many years. And don’t forget 1720 Fairmount down the block, a new construction apartment building with Bar Hygge on the first floor.

These buildings, and a few others, have radically changed the landscape of the Fairmount Avenue corridor, adding tons of new residents and several new businesses. Given the success that developers have had in building mixed-use on the corridor, it was only a matter of time before Loonstyn, or someone, found a way to acquire the Stone’s property and bring it up to a higher and better use. That being said, the loss of a beer distributor is no small thing for this neighborhood, and we wonder where the good folks in Spring Garden and Francisville will be getting their cases of beer in the near future. For better or worse, we don’t imagine that a new construction retail space would accommodate the needs of such a business.

Update: According to some commenters, Stone’s is sticking around. Drink a cold one in their honor.

  • FrancisvilleMgmt

    Why are you assuming that Stone’s is leaving? The owners say they will still occupy the new space and are excited about it.

    • NakedPhillyFox

      Because the zoning application indicates 2 vacant commercials spaces. Hope that Stone’s sticks around, but not sure that it’s a done deal.

      • FrancisvilleMgmt

        I have replied to this 2x but I love how you are selective in the comment process as to protect when your articles are wrong/inaccurate, and have decided not to approve it.

    • eldondre

      hopefully this is the case as building up always made sense as the way to finance improvements to the distributor.

    • bem

      I imagine they’ll be unable to pay the ever-increasing rent demanded by a brand-new building.

  • whatsup

    Great news. Hopefully Stones will stick around in the new space.

  • James Goodwin

    What’s the by right if you do not want to talk to the RCO?

  • FrancisvilleMgmt

    I was disappointed to see MJL on the zoning notice as well. Was hoping to see a Hygge/Tela’s type project.

  • FrancisvilleMgmt

    It’s a eyesore and I have been hoping for a reno, just as long as there is still beer! But at least they took the barbed wire down about a year ago.