As has reported, a four-alarm fire struck an abandoned factory on Front Street, just south of Girard Avenue, early this morning. The fire caused problems for commuters this morning, disrupting service on the El; shuttle buses are running between Spring Garden and Huntington Stations. This fire brings back memories of the five-alarm fire at another abandoned factory back in April, which resulted in the tragic deaths of two firefighters. Thankfully, today’s fire hasn’t taken any lives.

Still smoldering

As it turns out, we’ve brought this particular building to your attention a few times before. A huge construction project, Residences at H3, is under construction right across the street, as are some other homes in unrelated projects. In the past, we wondered whether the blighted, abandoned, and apparently unsecured warehouse would represent a challenge for the salability of the new homes across the street. Seems that those developers won’t have much to worry about anymore in that regard.

Another view

According to Hidden City, the warehouse building has a history that stretches back over 125 years. Over the decades, the building housed the Dougherty distillery, L.H. Parke’s, Fruchter Industries, and Wood Superior. In recent years, from what we can tell, it’s been owned by Tower Investments, developers of the Piazza, Liberty Walk, and numerous other projects in this neighborhood. A ‘For Lease’ sign that bears the Tower name seems to confirm this. We imagine that Tower had (and still has) plans for this property in the future, but what those plans are and the time frame involved remain a mystery.

View from Front Street

We don’t know the cause of the fire, but we do know that this building will be torn down, possibly by the end of today. While the building’s demolition might have eventually been in the cards anyway, we’re certain that no one would have wanted for the building to come down like this. While we can’t speak to just how secured or unsecured the building was before it burned, it sure seemed easy to access the last time we were over here, back in April. Could the property owners have done more to secure it? Sure. Could stricter enforcement from L&I have prevented the fire? Probably. Does any of that change this building’s fate at this point? Regrettably, not at all.

From under the El

Hopefully, the City will get itself in gear and work harder to secure vacant warehouses moving forward and we won’t have to write another post like this for a long time…

View from the south