The 1300 block of Frankford Avenue is one of the most vibrant commercial blocks in the neighborhood, featuring several food-based businesses that drive foot traffic from inside and outside the neighborhood. La Colombe is a landmark in Fishtown, with a beautiful and cavernous space converted from a former industrial building. But don’t forget neighborhood corner pub Fishtown Tavern, or dessert mecca Cake Life, or the terrific Kensington Quarters, among others. With all this good stuff on this block, it’s struck us as quite odd that 1351 Frankford Ave. has been used as a small surface parking lot for a number of years. And let’s not forget that part of the property was also used by Green Drop to collect donations from the area as well.
Looking at some old overhead views, we see that the property was once much larger and was covered in cars. From what we can see in the zoning archive, we see that the property was used as an “auto graveyard” since the 1930s, used to store old cars and car parts. Thinking about Fishtown and Frankford Avenue today, it’s crazy to think that this continued through the middle of the 2000’s.
Not long after this photo was snapped, the owners of the property subdivided it, with a row of a dozen homes built on Crease Street and a weirdly shaped property remaining on Frankford Avenue. That’s the parcel that’s been used as a parking lot for a little over a decade.
But the days of surface parking here are over. We passed by the other day and saw that it’s now an active construction site. What’s coming, you may ask? Allow us to explain.
While your first, second, and third guess would probably be a mixed-use building with retail on the ground floor and apartments above, you’d be incorrect. Indeed, back in 2015, the owners of the property got a zoning permit to build a project with 33 apartments above retail. But the project never materialized. Instead, the property continued to sit over the past few years. And eventually, the plans changed to a mixed-use project with retail on the first floor and office space on the upper floors. The project will also have ten parking spots, accessed from Crease Street.
We’re huge fans of the change of plans here, as it will add a new dimension to this part of town, which already has a some office space but could certainly support some more. There will surely be more people working here than there would have been living in a 33 unit apartment building. But in theory, those people will have a stronger impact on local businesses due to their greater numbers while having less of an impact on parking, since they’ll be leaving the neighborhood after business hours. Better yet, for people that already live in Fishtown or in a surrounding neighborhood, the presence of office space on Frankford Avenue could result in people working closer to home and possibly getting rid of their cars entirely. Just be prepared, in a couple years, for longer lines at La Colombe, especially first thing in the morning.