Northern Liberties could serve as a microcosm of the American economy since 2007. The housing market was bubbling, property values were on the rise and affecting nearby neighborhoods. Gentrification was expanding. Then, there was a fizzle, projects stalled, capital dropped down to the basement, somewhere beyond the sump pumps ability to mitigate. Since then development has been swinging like a golf tournament, with lots of people taking shots, some hitting them, and many landing in the rough.

Like in Fishtown, where a project for a row of homes at 1117-1129 Shackamaxon St. was first approved by Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA) in 2007. From what we can gather, it seems that only one home was constructed back then. Then, nothing for a few years. Then, two more homes on the other side of the development in 2010. And finally, last year, (and with a new developer) work began on the final four homes that were originally proposed.

Recent shot

We’re guessing that construction didn’t start for at least a year after FNA first approved the project, based on an early 2009 Street View shot that depicts the row of parcels as an abandoned overgrown lot that occupies the middle of the block, with one partially built home.

In 2009

April 2010, you can see two more homes under construction

What stands now is a strip of conventional, run-of-the-mill 21st-century wood-framed, brick sheathed row homes, with what appear to be plastic covered bay windows.

Full frontal of two homes under construction

Whatever caused the delay, it’s good to see this long-stalled project progress. And in Northern Liberties and Fishtown, dozens of new projects are manifesting all the time, far more than we can cover. All this points to a housing market that’s once again heading in the right direction.

–Lou Mancinelli