Demo Notice Could Represent Progress For Fishtown Hotel

The building at 1224 Frankford Ave. has a diverse industrial history, having originally been built as a brewery, serving for a time as a pickle factory, and operating as an ice storage building between 1925 and the mid-1990s. So it’s been around for awhile. Over the last couple decades, the building has sat vacant, changing hands a few times and ultimately ending up in the hands of Roland Kassis, a developer that’s built numerous projects around Fishtown. Back in 2013, we told you to expect a boutique hotel in this location, a project that would entail the reuse of the industrial building and a new structure on the lot next door. About a year later, a mural appeared on the building’s northern face, produced by artist Shepard Fairey, but there was not yet any construction work underway.

When 2016 rolled around, Kassis came before the community and formally presented plans for a hotel with 125 rooms, a restaurant, and a pool hanging over the back of the building. That proposal got approved at the ZBA, leading us to expect work to begin in relatively short order. And yet the property has remained largely untouched over the last couple years.

Closer look
Vacant lot next door

You can’t quite tell from the image above, but something has recently changed with this property- the old industrial building now has a demolition notice posted to its front. As we said, the original plan called for the reuse of the building and the construction of a new structure next door, but plans tend to change and that’s what’s happening here. Unfortunately, this means that the renderings from a couple years ago, crafted by Morris Adjmi Architects, may not be terribly valid anymore. Worth noting, a Curbed story indicates that the rear of the building, on Leopard Street, won’t get torn down, so maybe the rear rendering with the overhanging pool will still apply.

It won't look like this
Rear rendering probably still applies

It’s certainly unfortunate that this building will meet its end, as the reuse of the structure would have created significant architectural interest while paying tribute to the industrial history of the corridor. On the other hand, we can certainly understand a circumstance in which saving the building wasn’t economically feasible, and wouldn’t be surprised if some of the project’s delays were related to trying to find a way to integrate the old building into the hotel. Oddly, with demolition on the site forthcoming, we’ve never been more optimistic that the hotel project is actually going to move forward as we are now. Certainly, Fishtown is in an even better position to welcome such an enterprise today than it was when we first considered the project five years back.