North Philly contains quite a number of hulking, industrial gems from the past, and the one at 2100 W. Allegheny Ave. most certainly fits this profile. This was the original home to the Steel Heddle Manufacturing Company and the first section of this building went up in 1919. For those of you who aren’t experts in textile technologies, a heddle is a part of a loom, and those heddles were manufactured right in this building. This complex is on the national and local historic registers as yet another example of the manufacturing prowess of Philly’s past. Let’s make our way to the site which changed hands earlier this year and check out its current condition.

My Project
Aerial of the complex
A head on view of the main plant building
A view from the corner of 21st & Lippincott
View of the courtyard on the backside of the building
Love us some enormous industrial artifacts

This complex, right across the street from the Allegheny regional rail station, has plans for a major change in the near future. Owners Leo Voloshin and Nathan Krauthamer have big dreams for the property, and we are happy to report that we have some updates thanks to a ZBA hearing last month.

View of 2100 W. Allegheny Ave., looking a bit worse for the wear
My Project (1)
Rendering of the revamped Steel Heddle Building

The developers have big plans for this I-1 zoned site. 245 residential units are proposed across the complex, with an additional 32 studio spaces aimed at makers and smaller start-ups. The team is even working with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) to ensure that this incubator-like environment is targeted towards the local community. While the zoning board was seemingly in favor of this Continuum Architecture-designed project, there were some lingering concerns from a local registered community organization, so no vote was taken at the hearing and from what we can tell, a vote still hasn’t occurred. We really hope this moves forward, as an adaptive reuse of a historic building that serves the local community’s needs is exactly the type of project we love to see.

Sure, this would be a huge undertaking, but fear not, these developers have ample experience with this exact type of project. As we told you about way back in 2012, Voloshin is the driving force behind Paperbox Studios at 1639 N. Hancock St. in South Kensington. This project revamped a former industrial building into – you guessed it – apartment units and studio space. Voloshin them teamed up with Krauthamer to open Jasper Studios at 2930 E. Jasper St. in Kensington, which again consisted of fixing up a former industrial building.

1639 N. Hancock St. in the past looking...not good
Quite the difference, wouldn't you say?
Jasper Studios in the past
Again, quite the change

We think that this project would be a massive upgrade to an area that could stand to see a vacant building get a new life. Once the developers and neighbors are aligned, we expect to see this project move forward and offer a great service to the area. Having incubator space for a typically underserved community is a fantastic feature of this development and fixing up a vestige of Philly’s past is never a bad thing in our eyes, either.