We never thought we’d see the day that development would come to Broad & Washington, but now that Lincoln Square has been under construction for several months, we’re feeling cautiously optimistic that this project is actually happening. For those that just moved to town, the northwest corner of Broad & Washington has been sitting vacant for decades, with the exception of the historic Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Freight Shed. A year and change ago, the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development agreed to sell the property to a joint venture between the Alterra Group and MIS Capital LLC, a group that also bought the privately owned train shed. In relatively short order, the developers have gone from concept to permits to construction. And they’re making pretty good progress.
The most dramatic part of the work has happened to the train shed, where construction crews have undertaken significant interior demolition and have removed the eastern exterior wall that wasn’t original to the building. If you pass by the building during the work day, you’ll see straight through to Broad Street, and you’ll note that the building is now just an empty shell.
To the south, you can see there’s been a lot of foundation work done, though we’d think there’s more site work to come before framing begins.
To refresh your memory, this project will entail 322 apartments, over 100K sqft of retail space, and over 400 parking spots. About half a year ago, before construction began, we predicted a Target, a Bank of America, a Starbucks, and some other businesses, just based on the project renderings. We’ve gotten confirmation on all of those tenants, with Target officially announcing their plans to open here a couple weeks ago. The train shed will be converted into a Sprouts Grocery store, which along with Target will give people in the area two different grocery options on one block. Here’s the latest rendering of the project, from BLT Architects.
As we’ve said on many occasions, Washington Avenue, especially west of Broad Street, has all the potential in the world, but that potential will only be unlocked by people living and retail stores setting up shop on Washington Avenue. Lincoln Square should be a game changer, not only for the surrounding neighborhoods, but also for Washington Avenue in that it will prove to the doubters that this corridor can sustain this type of development. When Washington Avenue looks totally different in a decade, with mixed-use development replacing most or all of the construction businesses, we’ll look to Lincoln Square as the first domino that began the change in earnest. And frankly, we can’t wait to see the rest of those dominos fall.