The east side of Callowhill Street is not always the most welcoming of avenues, but Gift of Life Howie’s House is one very notable exception to the rule. No, this is not Eagles’ GM Howie Roseman‘s abode (Note: Go Birds), but a facility that was completed in 2011 that offers short-term accommodations to the families of those who are receiving organ transplants at a nearby facility. Given the grueling schedules and intensity of the treatment needed, having a comfortable (and affordable) place to stay close-by is a wonderful benefit to the families of those who are going through a very difficult road to recovery.

Today finds us immediately next door to Howie’s House, where 417 Callowhill St. will soon bring a major change to the neighborhood. Formerly a forgettable low-rise structure which housed an electrical supply company and an adult daycare, there have been plans here for a 220-unit building going back to 2021. We stopped by quickly this August when we saw that a construction trailer was parked out front, but there were no signs of action until just recently. As you can see below, demo is now in full swing for this Bernardon-designed project that’s set to change this southern section of Northern Liberties.

The proposed building creates a mini-skyline along the busy stretch
A view of the very active job site from the southeastern corner

While The Keystone is a purely residential project, we are wildly excited to see this lot pivot to a use that will add to the pedestrian presence in the off-ramp haven. The mid-rise structure will feel much more urban when compared to the now-demolished buildings, hopefully leading to some natural traffic calming. Architecturally, the modern design is a striking upgrade from the blue awnings of the boxy building that once stood.

Demo nearly complete on the original structure at the corner of 5th & Callowhill
Current view looking northwest across Callowhill St.
The future view from the same spot shows off a facade composed of multiple materials and depths
Current view of the northeast corner of 5th & Callowhill

While we definitely would have appreciated some retail to really set-off the walkability, adding 220 units in this area between Old City and Northern Liberties will go a long way toward making the gap between Callowhill and Spring Garden Streets feel a little less desolate than it has for so many years. With construction now underway on three projects just a hop, skip, and a jump away, this area will be teeming with new folks soon enough, hopefully offering a livelier street life to this long forlorn pocket of the city. Before you know it, those pesky highway-induced scars of the past will be harder and harder to see as the area continues to densify.