Having grown up in the 1980s and early 90s, we are the exact target market for Barcade. And we must admit, the place is basically catnip to us. If we had no responsibilities and unlimited funds, we’d probably be there every night – and we’d probably find ourselves with dueling weight and drinking problems. But we digress.

Yessss X-Men game

Something that has struck us with every visit to Barcade is the giant lot at 1120 Frankford Ave., immediately next door. This property was owned by a construction company for years, and was used to store trailers and other construction materials for about a decade and a half. It changed hands in 2016, and has been a lightly used surface parking lot ever since. Looking at Fishtown two decades ago, we can understand why a construction company would have been attracted to this parcel, given its easy access to downtown and the highway, and the fact that dirt was super cheap at the time.

The convenience factor still rings true, but the neighborhood has skyrocketed in the last number of years, and dirt ain’t cheap here anymore. So it makes sense that the construction company sold their property, but the continued use as a surface lot qualifies as a dramatic underuse of incredibly valuable real estate. To be honest, it kind of feels like a placeholder.

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Underused at a prime location

It probably feels like a placeholder because that’s exactly what it is. This week, Fishtown Neighbors Association will host a meeting for the community to learn about new plans for this site in advance of an upcoming Civic Design Review meeting. The project will entail a five-story mixed-use building with 150 apartments, ground-floor retail, and <gasp> no parking. US Construction is the developer, and BLTa has done the design work for this project. Renderings indicate that the building will have an industrial vibe which connects it with the neighborhood’s history.

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Aerial rendering
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Project rendering from the ground
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Two retail spaces, two courtyards
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Future brewpub possible

This project looks awesome! The height is appropriate for the area. The design looks sharp. It will add more density to the area, which will only help the businesses nearby on the commercial corridor, plus businesses on the northern end of Northern Liberties. It’s located two blocks from a stop on the El and is convenient to a bunch of bus routes. It’s replacing a surface parking lot. It’ll dovetail nicely with the upcoming building up the block at Frankford & Girard. And it’ll be impossibly convenient to Barcade! But perhaps best of all, it’s happening totally by right, so it’s reasonable to expect that it’s actually gonna happen, perhaps even later this year.

If you’d like more info on the project, the FNA meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 18th, at 7:30pm. Here’s the link to register.