New Apartments Planned In the Shadow of the Willow Street Steam Generation Plant

It has come to our attention the a row of vacant lots in the Callowhill neighborhood could soon get developed, pretty much around the corner from the office/creative space reuse project we told you about the other day. Developers purchased 430-444 N. 9th St. earlier this year, paying half a million for the properties and further demonstrating the growing momentum in this neighborhood as the Rail Park moves closer toward becoming a reality. Redeveloping these parcels is really a no brainer today, though it would have been a little more questionable as recently as a few years ago.

The property

Looking up 9th Street

According to the zoning application, the developers are looking to build six triplexes and one duplex here, with plans for a single parking spot for each building accessed via Percy Street. The project seems reasonable enough to us, but when it went to the ZBA last week it was continued to a future date. So it'll be a little while before we know for sure that this project will indeed happen.

Across the street

The project planned for this location does give us an excuse though, to bring up a building we've been meaning to cover for years. It's quite likely that you've noticed the Willow Street Steam Generation Plant at some point in the past, perhaps from close range while traveling through this neighborhood or maybe from a greater distance after coming into town on Ben Franklin Bridge. According to Hidden City, this building was constructed in 1927 as part of the steam system that's still used today to heat hundreds of large buildings in and around Center City. It's been out of service for decades though, waiting for demolition or reuse. Demo would apparently be tough due to asbestos issues, and reuse would be a challenge for the same reason and also because the interior layout doesn't include floors.

So here it continues to sit. Perhaps as the surrounding neighborhood continues to appreciate, the economics will allow for the redevelopment of the property. And while things are improving in Callowhill, it doesn't seem we're there quite yet.

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