918 N. Delaware Ave. has historically been a rather unassuming, if enormous property on the edge of Northern Liberties. This parcel has a tremendous amount of frontage on Delaware Avenue and then curves around in the rear along Canal Street, making for a property that’s shaped like a ski slope. Back in the day, different industrial concerns operated here, with a sugar refinery, a salt manufacturer, and a wooden box company all doing business at this address in the middle of the 20th century. We aren’t sure what businesses have been here more recently, but we can comfortably state that industrial uses are no longer the highest or best uses for this location.
We actually said this a few years back, when we told you about a “planned project” called Wellshaus which would have theoretically added over 500 units across two buildings, with a shopping complex in between them. Only after the fact did we learn that this was just a theoretical project designed by L2Partridge and that it wasn’t actually happening. Uh, our bad.
Like Roger Daltrey famously shouted though, “we won’t get fooled again.” Something big is finally happening here, and the combination of ongoing demolition at the site and a CDR packet make us feel quite confident that it’s for real this time. When we visited the site on a rainy day recently, we realized that a large section of the building is already gone. We should mention that Wells Meats, located at the intersection of Delaware Ave. and Laurel Street, isn’t going anywhere as this project moves forward on the huge property next door.
Befitting the big lot, this project will be sizable indeed. It will consist of five different seven-story residential buildings, four of which will have ground floor retail space, with a total of 462 apartments and 6 commercial spaces. Also included will be 140 parking spaces as well as a two-floor community building which will hold some amenities for the residents of the development. There will also be a decent amount of outdoor space associated with the project, though maybe not as much as we might have expected for a project designed in this fashion. Harman Deutsch Ohler did the design work, and if the project gets built as rendered, it will be a tremendous addition to Delaware Avenue.
With plans calling for five retail spaces on Delaware Ave., this project stands in contrast to community feedback given regarding the Pier Village project we showed you a few days ago. You may recall, neighbors weren’t thrilled with retail on Delaware Ave. for the project, instead preferring a shift in the retail space to have frontage on the Delaware River Trail. The significant retail presence proposed at 918 N. Delaware Ave. would seem to indicate a belief from these developers that there’s still pretty strong potential for walkable commercial near the waterfront, though the location on the western side of the street surely plays a major role, along with its proximity to other retail around the corner on Frankford Avenue. Certainly, if this project offers an extension of that entertainment district, it’ll be a big win for the area and might even inspire the folks at Wells to set up a little takeout window. You aren’t finding fresher burgers, we can assure you of that.