Destination Maternity is, according to Wikipedia, the largest designer of and retailer for maternity clothes in the world. Somewhat surprisingly, Destination Maternity was based for years in Philadelphia, in a large building at 5th & Spring Garden. In 2013, the company moved to New Jersey, leaving a sizable hole in the fabric of the largely industrial area just south of Northern Liberties. Then more stuff happened to this company, but we digress.
Perhaps if the building would have traded in the last couple of years, we might have seen the industrial building demolished and replaced by a large mixed-use project. But instead, the old building stuck around and is now home to a relocated Yards Brewing and a Target. No doubt, Target needs plenty of parking, but we always kind of thought that the store had way too much parking and that the property could probably accommodate more functional uses, like another building or two. And lo, another building is exactly what’s currently happening at this site.
The building, which is being carved out of the southeastern section of the enormous site, will rise four stories and will include retail on the first floor and 49 units. Incidentally, one more apartment would have required a trip to CDR, and we can understand a desire to avoid going through that process. The building will include 3 retail spaces with a generous 11K sqft of space. We confess, we’re a little frustrated that only one of the retail spaces will have frontage on 5th Street, with the others only opening up into the remaining parking lot. This is a missed opportunity to increase walkability on 5th Street, as people patronizing these businesses will have every incentive to drive instead of walk. Nevertheless, the design from ISA is a strong one, even though we would have liked to see the retail facing 5th Street and maybe another half dozen stories of height.
Metro Commercial is the leasing agent for the retail spaces and they already have a sign up at the site. We’ll be keenly interested to see what sorts of tenants ultimately look to open here, though it’s challenging to think about any kind of business signing a lease at this particular moment, as we peer through our COVID-colored glasses. Still, the addition of some apartments and additional retail to the area just below Northern Liberties could spur other projects nearby to try to close the gap with Old City to the south. From where we sit, we’d even applaud an effort to build a similar building (or a bigger one) on the 6th Street side of this property. Maybe with another effort, we can at least get all the commercial space to have frontage on both the inside and the outside.