Interesting Layout Gets Community Thumbs Up for Tricky Fishtown Lot Near 95

One of our favorite Philadelphia regional words to say is (heavy accent required) “Aramingo,” also known as the wide commercial street which starts in Fishtown and winds its way to the northeast, eventually ending in Bridesburg. Did you know that Aramingo is actually a shortened version of Tumanaraming, the Lenape name for the creek which once ran through this area? Originally part of Northern Liberties, the Aramingo Borough officially became a part of Philadelphia during the Act of Consolidation back in 1854, sitting roughly where the avenue starts today.

Okay, now that we’ve covered the history/linguistics part of today’s lesson, let’s get to some development! Today, we are heading to the edge of the Fishtown portion of the 95 Revive project, where the property at 850-56 Moyer St. may be making a turn to multi-family. Let’s check out the site where a low-rise building and surface parking lot currently sit.

An aerial of the property shows the low-rise building and surface lot
View of the Moyer St. side, with 95 close by
View of the property from Aramingo not exactly adding to the charm
View of the fence and low-rise building from Moyer St.

Sitting north of 95 from the Fishtown Crossing shopping center, this project is within a stone’s throw from a condo project we covered earlier this year just off of Aramingo and is a quick walk under 95 to the massive Northbank project we covered in the spring. Currently the home to Smitty’s Auto & Truck Repair, PB+DC presented plans for what they’re calling Moyer Village at Tuesday’s Fishtown Neighbor’s Association zoning meeting for this Gnome Architects-designed project. Needing a variance for this trapezoidal, RSA-5 zoned lot, the team presented plans for a two-pronged approach: three rowhouses on the Moyer St. side, each with four bedrooms and garage parking for one car, and a five-unit building containing four covered parking spaces, with a shared drive aisle accessed from Aramingo. This project removes the current curb cut on Moyer St. as well, adding another spot back to the street parking mix. Thanks to the presentation, we have some details for this brick-forward project, so let’s get to it.

The multifamily portion of the project, facing Aramingo
Three rowhouses would go up along Moyer St., matching the residential-heavy feel of the street
Site plan shows position of the houses and multifamily component, along with car access along the parking-free Aramingo Ave. side
Elevation drawings show the proposed layout of the structures

There are several refusals for this project, most notably for the multifamily portion. There were also concerns from the neighbors regarding the safety of the site given the area’s long history of industry, but those were seemingly allayed, as the developers had already completed an environmental study. A vote of the neighbors overwhelmingly favored the plans presented by the development team, who offered a thoughtful project that seems like a substantial improvement from the unwelcoming fence that currently surrounds the site. The plan goes to the ZBA on November 9th, and if all is approved, we should see work start on the single-family portion of the site this coming spring, with construction time slated for 12-14 months. Look for the single-family homes to be for sale, with the five apartment units to be rentals.

We have to say that we are impressed by the continued pace of development immediately adjacent to the massive 95 underpass, which is rapidly getting close to the completion of the on-going Fishtown construction phase. Formerly a dark, dangerous mess of roads and crumbling infrastructure, the entire area surrounding the highway sure feels different with the new lights, pathways and landscaping that run underneath and along the recently widened road. We might have preferred an alternative approach which would have entailed the demolition of I-95 and the reconnection of the city’s eastern neighborhoods to the Delaware Waterfront, but that was surely always a pipe dream. Given that the highway is here to stay for at least the next few generations, we’re at least pleased to see these sorts of improvements in the areas nearby.