Give Me Liberty (Lumber), or Give Me Death (a Mixed-Use Building)

When we lived in Passyunk Square back in the day, we occasionally visited Liberty Lumber at the corner of 7th & Alter, predictably to buy some lumber. The building supply business closed down a few years ago though, and in 2016 we told you that the upper floor of the building had been converted to apartments. It wasn’t the prettiest building in the neighborhood, but it was functional enough. And we have to think that the neighbors were happier with a vacant retail space and a few apartments instead of forklifts at all hours of the day.

In the past

For reasons that are a little unclear to us, the former Liberty Lumber building is now in a state of partial demolition. The owners of the property have permits to build a two-story addition onto the existing property and have a vacant commercial space on the first floor, with apartments above. What we believe is happening is that the developers are actually tearing down the old building and constructing something new in its place, but they’re calling it addition work to avoid triggering a zoning refusal for 100% lot coverage. While we’ve seen this approach in the past and understand the idea, we confess we’re still rather confused about why they’re building a brand new building which will do the same thing as the building that they’re tearing down. But as the steel already on the site indicates, a new building is indeed coming.

Current view
A peek inside
View on Alter Street

You may be able to see, the properties next door on Alter Street are also under construction.

Next door on Alter Street

Immediately next door to the construction site at the corner, a two-story building is picking up an extra floor and will be turned into a single family home. As for the apartment building next to that at 704 Alter St., we have no idea what’s going on. It appears there’s been some significant interior demolition work done, but we don’t see any permits on the property so couldn’t tell you whether it’s simply some renovation work or something more significant. Whatever the case, this small patch of Passyunk Square is in the midst of some changes, and there should soon be a new retail space available for rent at this corner. We don’t know what kind of business will open here, but we can at least say with some confidence that they won’t be selling lumber.

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