It seems wild, but it was just over a year ago when we made a development journey to check on the action in what we dubbed Lower Fishtown. We’ve visited a few of those projects since then, but it seemed time to check on what was happening along Frankford Ave., specifically south of the Girard Ave. border, which acts as a “natural” starting point for the commercial district. But as development continues to extend toward the river, this stretch of Frankford most certainly deserves its time in the spotlight.

An aerial of lower Frankford Ave., highlighted in green

Let’s take it from the top (of the stretch), where 1120 Frankford Ave. is making its mark. Formerly an empty lot with an adorable Fishtown cat mural, this five-story mixed-use project is now at full height right next to a couple of other recently finished projects. Originally a 150-unit project from US Construction, the design from BLT Architects has seemingly been downsized from a density standpoint according to permits, with 107 units now included. Two stories of commercial space will be featured, presumably taking the space of some of those lost units. The final facade will include brick and industrial-inspired windows, bringing a solid structure into the fold here along with an activated streetscape.

Looking southeast towards 1120 Frankford Ave.
A look at the retail-lined future streetscape
Another look at the progress, along with its near northern neighbors
Another rendering shows off the throw-back industrial feel
A closer look at the facade progress

Immediately across the street at 1115 Frankford Ave., a former industrial building has a much, much different future ahead. The West Collection – the large contemporary art holdings of the founder of SEI Investments – has had its eye on the site for several years, with a shipping container-heavy design for the property. After receiving zoning permits for this new approach, progress has been slow, with no clear signs of action on what will be a new courtyard area to the north of the building.

1115 Frankford Ave. with the green arrow, still waiting for action
No signs of action yet on the future courtyard
The site plan shows how the shipping containers will work with the existing building

Continuing down the block to 945 Frankford Ave., a 78-unit, mixed-use project is rising immediately next to the Northern Liberties Loop. We last visited this apartment project from Archive Development and Canno Design back in the fall, with the site looking mostly the same since then. One Frankford will offer a gorgeous, white-brick design, along with more commercial space that will continue Fishtown’s momentum all the way to its terminus as it approaches the river.

Foundation work and steel already complete at One Frankford
A look at the future seven-story structure

OK, so for this last one we’re going to cheat just a bit. When looking south down Columbus Blvd. from this last stop, it was impossible to miss the action at Five on Canal. At 970 N. Delaware Ave. just next to George L. Wells Meat Company, over 500 units are going up on a recently up-sized apartment complex. This multi-building project designed by HDO Architecture and developed by GY Properties looks ready for the newest addition as more work on the sidewalks and other buildings charges forward, bringing even more people and retail to the area.

The northern part of the site ready for the next phase
An aerial rendering of Five on Canal
Another view of the progress, including new sidewalks

Quite a change from the past, wouldn’t you say? And all of this could be even more pedestrian-friendly too, once the wayfinding and potential new plaza at Laurel St. come into the picture.

The big plans for the Laurel Street Plaza at the base of Frankford Ave.

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but we are absolutely loving the continuation of one of Philly’s best commercial corridors. Bringing the energy of Fishtown south of Girard Ave. opens up an entirely new area for folks to live and explore. And as things continue to evolve along the nearby waterfront, we can envision a future where this stretch is absolutely teeming with people, instead of the lonely trolley stop that once defined this area.