JT Riley Lumber Redevelopment Finally Happening?

As recently as fifteen, twenty years ago, it made sense that J.T. Riley Lumber Co. was located at 3rd & Girard. Northern Liberties was on the upswing, but still maintained many traces of its industrial past. Girard Avenue was a major barrier, with South Kensington effectively considered the “wrong side of the (trolley) tracks.” Now that we think about it, there was so much construction in the Northern Liberties, a lumber yard was probably pretty convenient for the builders.

These days, a lumber yard sticks out like a sore thumb at this location. Northern Liberties has jumped the shark. South Kensington has seen an unprecedented wave of development over the last several years. Instead of a barrier, Girard Avenue has evolved into a commercial corridor between two thriving neighborhoods. We admit, Girard still has a ways to go, but it’s incontrovertible that it has improved dramatically. And it could see some additional improvement in the near future, as a delayed project looks like it should start moving forward on the site of that aforementioned lumber yard.

View of the old lumber yard
Former bar at the corner of 3rd & Girard

Back in early 2014, we told you that the lumber yard had closed its doors and that the 30K sqft parcel was listed for sale for $2.7M. It didn’t take long until the property piqued a developer’s interest. That summer, we told you about a plan to build a five-story building on Girard Avenue with 20 apartments and a 3,000 sqft retail space, along with triplexes on 3rd Street and Orianna Street. All told, the project was to include 53 apartments and 37 parking spaces. Here are some renderings of the project, thanks to KJO Architecture.

Rendering from corner of Orianna & Girard
Aerial view
Southern sectional view shows parking

As you can see in the photos above though, this project hasn’t moved forward over the last three years. We couldn’t tell you the source of the delay, but now it seems that the project is finally ready to proceed. A couple of readers have reached out in the last couple days, noting demolition notices on the property. Seems like a pretty good indication that the project is getting moving, right? These folks also noted that there were demo notices on the former bar at the corner of 3rd & Girard, which you can see in the renderings wasn’t previously part of the proposal.

Has anyone in the neighborhood heard anything about what caused the delay for this project? Does anyone know about whether the former bar at the corner will indeed come down with the rest of the lumber yard? Has anyone heard anything about potential retail tenants for the building? Whatever tenant eventually opens up shop here, they’ll have the benefit of dozens of new residents living upstairs and next door. Those residents should be a great benefit for the other businesses on the corridor as well.

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