At the end of last year, we directed your attention to 1501 N. 31st St., noting that an old and unexciting warehouse building had been demolished. This structure had been used in recent years by a company specializing in the sale of suspension parts for cars, and was last used for food truck sales and rentals. And this sort of thing made perfect sense in this part of Brewerytown, an area crowded with old industrial buildings and littered with vacant lots.

Otto Old
In the past

But times have changed in Brewerytown, which you already know if you’ve been paying any sort of attention over the last several years. The Girard Avenue corridor is improving slowly but surely, and long ignored residential areas are experiencing a dramatic resurgence. The residential growth is such that it’s extending well beyond the row home blocks in the neighborhood, as numerous former industrial properties in the neighborhood are moving away from their historic uses. Perhaps the most notable examples of this phenomenon are the conversion of the former Red Bell Brewery and the Pyramid Lofts, a pair of projects from MM Partners. Across the street from the Red Bell Brewery, at 1501 N. 31st St., the old building wasn’t worth saving and a new mixed-use building is rising in its place.

View from last week

The project, from Precision Realty Group, has been dubbed Otto Brewerytown and will include 52 condo units, with a mix of studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedroom units. The project will also include roughly 2,500 sqft of retail space at the corner, which will probably get divided into two spaces. Design work for the project comes from ISA Architects, and like many of their other projects this one will take a very contemporary approach. Check out these renderings, culled from a Loopnet listing for the commercial spaces.

Otto Render 1
Otto Render 2
Closer look at the retail space
Otto Render 3
Rendering along Jefferson St.

The name of the project refers to Otto Wolf, a local architect that did his work at the end of 19th and into the beginning of the 20th century. Wolf was a prolific designer of breweries, doing work locally and all over the country. Thanks to the combination of prohibition and the ravages of time though, many of Wolf’s buildings are no longer around. A handful of Wolf’s buildings have survived in Philadelphia, including the aforementioned Red Bell Brewery (originally built for FA Poth) across the street. We wonder what Wolf would think about the direction of architecture over the last hundred years, and how he’d feel about the upcoming building that bears his first name. Kind of impossible to know for sure though, with our Delorean on the fritz these days.