Let’s take a narrow definition of Center City, and arbitrarily draw the boundaries from South Street to Spring Garden, river to river. Sounds like the most desirable real estate in Philadelphia, does it not? One would think that every square inch of Center City would be in high demand and that anyone would want to live in any area within these boundaries. But… that’s not quite accurate. There’s definitely one part of Center City that’s not so desirable, and that’s the still-industrial section of town between Callowhill and Spring Garden, from Front Street to 8th Street. Even as Northern Liberties to the north and Callowhill to the west have gone through significant changes over the course of the most recent development cycle, this area looks more or less as it has for decades, aside from the turnover of several businesses.

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 At 11.20.20 AM
Surrounding area around 8th & Callowhill

Don’t get us wrong, we’re big fans of the relocated Yards brewery at 5th & Spring Garden, and we’ve frequented the adjacent Target on several occasions. All we’re saying is that hardly anyone lives in this little pocket of Center City, and barring a transformative project along the lines of the proposed but never built 454-unit development at 4th & Callowhill, we don’t see that changing any time soon. Which makes us wonder just what’s happening at 8th & Callowhill, a sizable property which appears to have been used for industrial purposes for quite some time. A warehouse building stood on this property until 2017, when it got torn down, ostensibly in preparation for redevelopment.

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 At 9.41.47 AM
In the past
Current view

Going back half a decade, there was a plan to build a 28-unit building on this property. That never happened, and now the owners are looking to build a pair of apartment buildings with a total of 40 units and 20 interior parking spaces. Certainly, an apartment building would be an upgrade over the currently vacant lot, and given the proximity to the highway and the Ben Franklin Bridge, parking makes plenty of sense here as well.

Again though, we still wonder just how many people will be excited to rent apartments at 8th & Callowhill, given the industrial nature of the neighborhood to the north and east, and the tangle of highway onramps just to the south. On the other hand, the Callowhill neighborhood is located immediately to the west, and as we’ve covered many times over the years, there’s no shortage of growth and development in that pocket. In all likelihood, the people that eventually move to 8th & Callowhill will see their building as an extension of that neighborhood and not as a lone wolf, surrounded by industry on three sides. Certainly, if we were marketing that project, that’s the angle we’d be taking.