What’s Up With the Vacant Lot at Front & Spring Garden?

We were in the area recently (dropping off a mail-in ballot, if you must know), and we were pleased to see some nice progress on a new apartment building just north of Front & Spring Garden. A little more than three years ago, we told you that developers had purchased the little building at 614 N. Front St. and were planning to tear it down in favor of an apartment building. It took a little longer than we would have expected, but the project is now moving along well. Along the way, the six-story design changed from the original plan, and it will now include 25 apartments, down from 27, and 9 parking spots, down from 17. It will also contain a small commercial space on Front Street. For now though, it’s pretty much all stair and elevator towers.

In the past
Current view
Closer look

Seeing this building finally moving forward, it made us wonder about the large vacant lot immediately next door. We actually wrote about 101 Spring Garden St. waaaay back in 2013, after a reader tipped us off that it had recently been cleaned up. At that time, we were hopeful that this empty lot would at least lose the Jersey barriers and get turned into a surface lot, if not get redeveloped. The Jersey barriers are still there, but it is indeed used for some parking.

Vacant lot next door
Old rendering

We decided to dig a little deeper into this property, hoping to come up with something new to share. In doing a bit of research, we discovered that there was a Teamsters union hall here for a number of years, and that building was demoed in the early 2000s. The building got torn down because developers purchased the property, and these developers had some incredibly aggressive plans. Per Philaphilia, the project planned for this site was called 101 Sky and would have entailed a 21-story apartment building. Given the location of this property, this was a lousy idea in the early aughts. And honestly it would still be a crummy plan in 2020. In a way, it’s fortunate that this thing never got out of the ground.

Here’s a cool nugget though- something may actually happen here at some point in the relatively near future. New developers purchased the property in late 2017 and consolidated the parcels into one big lot. We don’t see any additional permits as of now, but we have to think that something should be coming down the pike in the relatively near future. In planning the development of this property, we wonder whether the developers will take a cue from the relatively new apartment building next door, which only goes up five stories and includes some first floor retail? Or maybe they’ll go in a different direction and take some inspiration from the planned gas station to the east? Ooh, we can’t wait to what they decide to do!

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