Shopping Center on the Outs on 3rd Street?

We shall see
Lou Mancinelli

Years ago, it probably seemed like a great idea to build a shopping center on the 800 block of N. 3rd St. in Northern Liberties. Today though, with heaps of residential redevelopment in the neighborhood, a suburban-style row of stores around a parking lot seems terribly out of place. As such, developers from U.S. Construction are seeking to raze the shopping center at 836-50 N. 3rd St. and in its place build 26 homes with two ground-floor retail spaces.


Current view

The plan for the site would include seven units fronting 3rd Street, seven units fronting Orianna Street, and ten units on either side of an interior courtyard/parking lot. The adaptible commerical spaces were proposed for one of the units on 3rd and one of the units on Orianna. JKR Partners did the architecture work.


View looking north on 3rd St.

Interior courtyard/parking lot

Site plan

But only two retail options was not strong enough for the NLNA, who asked developers to come back to the neighborhood with plans that reflected a design in which all of the units fronting 3rd Street would include retail. Just imagine, a real mixed-use presence on 3rd Street could bring a very interesting dynamic to this block, though we're not certain about the financial viability of such an approach for the developers.

When (and if) this project goes through, it will be another large-scale rebuilding in Northern Liberties near an area already swinging with established retail. At the south side of this block is the popular restaurant North Third, and other businesses can be found immediately to the north. Take Poplar a block east and you're right in the heart of the 2nd Street commercial corridor, and the Piazza is right there too. Just this project alone, with 26 new units, would represent a small army of new customers for the businesses nearby. Parlay that with the fast developing 5th & Poplar, where dozens of units have come (or are coming) online in the past year, and a very small radius of Northern Liberties is swelling with revitalization.