It was just the other week when we made our way to the corner of 5th & Spring Garden in Northern Liberties, where a 300+ unit apartment tower appears on the verge of getting started on the southeast corner. Immediately catty-corner, a project we checked on back in February is starting to round into form. 382 residential units are joining an Amazon Fresh grocery store in what is one of the biggest land-use improvements in the entire city, as exactly nobody will miss the bunker-like shopping center that once stood here. You can already see how much things have progressed over the last several months.
This 12-story tower is edging closer to getting topped off, and some facade cladding is already in place, along with some windows. The building strikes an imposing silhouette against the other buildings close by, giving a more Center City feel to the stretch. BLTa‘s design places the residential tower on the east side of the site, with the low-rise grocery store on the western side. A quick mosey around the site shows just how much progress has taken place since our last visit.
While the tower is obviously fun from a skyline and density perspective, we might be equally excited about the new Amazon Fresh. Not only will this add another grocery store to an area that is relatively underserved from a fresh food perspective, the streetscape and pedestrian life will get a huge upgrade. What used to be a dinged-up sidewalk, void of any landscaping of note will instead consist of a newly poured sidewalk, new bike racks, added street trees, and a revamped intersection featuring new streetlights and ADA-compliant crosswalks. You can see at the pedestrian scale, things are already looking and feeling very different. Even though the grocery store is seemingly far from its opening day, it is now much easier to envision the vibe of the area in the future.
Now close your eyes and imagine 400+ people here, another 400 or so from next door at 6th & Fairmount, and another 300 people across Spring Garden at the project about to start. Obviously, this entire area will feel completely different with an additional 1,000+ folks walking around, as it wasn’t long ago when it was a bit of a ghost town over here. Oh, and we haven’t even touched upon the huge investment in the Spring Garden Greenway streetscape improvement, which will make this even more beautiful, lush, and pedestrian-friendly. We never expected that we’d be shopping for fresh produce at an Amazon-backed grocery store when we first went to Silk City a thousand years ago, but here we are, witnessing this area being reclaimed by residential and mixed-use projects.