Historic Granary Getting Renovated At Last

In a pocket of Logan Square best known for museums and an expansive Whole Foods, the Reading Company Grain Elevator at 411 N. 20th St. sticks out like a historically designated sore thumb. Per Workshop of the World, this building was constructed in 1925 as a storage facility for grain that came in from Pennsylvania farms that eventually made its way via train to Port Richmond and the Delaware River. It was only used for these purposes for a couple decades though, and after decades of vacancy, the lower levels were converted into office space while some upper floors were turned into a luxury penthouse apartment. Eventually the entire building turned into offices, though we’re fairly certain it hasn’t been used for much over the last ten plus years.

About a decade ago, Pearl Properties bought this building along with the giant vacant lot next door. Their first idea for the property called for a twelve-story addition on the building and a mixed-use building next door. After some pushback from the community, the developers altered their plan to maintain the envelope of the existing building and convert the upper floors into apartments while finding some restaurant tenants on the first floor. In the end, they scrapped their plans for the old granary building and just built the mixed-use building next door. In 2013, Pearl sold the apartment building for $120M while the granary continued to sit vacant. Finally, last year, Alterra Property Group bought the granary, with an eye toward redevelopment. If you visit the site, you’ll see that these efforts are already underway.

View from the north
View of the former granary and the newish building next door

A story from Philly.com shared the news that Alterra is seemingly revisiting the last Pearl plan for the granary and will convert the upper floors into 24 apartments and use the ground floor space for retail. Instead of restaurants, a Fine Wine and Good Spirits store will hang a shingle, opening one of the largest liquor stores in the state. Considering that the closest liquor stores to this location are on Market Street and Fairmount Avenue, this new store will fill a gap in the market and make booze a little more accessible for residents of Logan Square and Spring Garden. Speaking of gaps, the space between the liquor store and the apartments, originally used for grain silos, will remain as is due to the fact that the building is on the local historic register. This means that the building will continue to stick out from its surroundings from an architectural standpoint, but it’ll at least come back into productive use.

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    The building also hosted a disco. For more history of the building see the article on the granary under “History” at the Matthias Baldwin Park web site.