Union Transfer Getting a New Neighbor?

The commercial corridor on Spring Garden Street, east of Broad, has made some major strides over the last several years, as the neighborhoods to the north and south have improved. The biggest changes have been Union Transfer, the music venue that took over the Spaghetti Warehouse space on the 1000 block a few years back, and 990 Spring Garden, the government building turned office loft space which is also home to Roy Pitz Barrel House. There’s a smattering of other restaurants nearby, including W/N W/N, the worker cooperative cafe bar. Incidentally, we went to W/N W/N the other night to snag a very delicious pizza from Pizza Gutt, and we suggest you give it a shot if you’re looking to try a new pie.

Looking to the north side of Spring Garden Street, with W/N W/N on the right
990 Spring Garden
Union Transfer, viewed from 10th & Spring Garden

In the image above that shows Union Transfer, you’ll notice there’s a small surface parking lot next door, at the southwest corner of 10th & Spring Garden. A decade ago, when things were a bit grittier around these parts, the surface lot still wasn’t an ideal use, but it wasn’t a compelling development opportunity. These days, things are a little different. So it’s no shock that developers purchased this lot and the building to the south over the last few years and have some construction plans on the horizon. They’re looking to build an eight story building with retail on the first floor, 23 units on the upper floors, and no parking.

This sounds like a great plan to us, as we’re generally quite fond of height and density. And with the retail space on the first floor, there will be an opportunity for an addition to the commercial corridor. We do wonder why the developers are looking at an eight-story building, as this is a height that we don’t often see in this town. Once a building rises over five stories, building codes require additional steel framing and engineering, the costs of which get defrayed as a building gets taller. With unions also coming into the picture as the project gets bigger, it takes quite a few additional stories before those costs become manageable, which is why there’s not a ton of mid-rise construction in Philadelphia. But that’s exactly what’s happening here, assuming the ZBA gives their blessing.

Looking south, toward former Haverford Bicycle Company

Not only will the height of this new building potentially allow for views to the east, over the 990 Spring Garden building, but it will also provide great southern views of the Rail Park. Combine that with incredibly convenient access to one of the best music venues in town and some nice restaurants, and the project seems like a real, uh, w/nner.

  • Timothy Reimer

    For the blog of a company that claims to be a leading developer there is a surprising lack of knowledge about the building code displayed in this article. It is absolutely possible to build structures larger than five stories without using steel framing AND still comply with modern building codes.