While taking part in our favorite pastime of slinking around vacant lots the other day, we were floored by how different the waterfront portion of Northern Liberties feels today. We are here very, very often, but sometimes even we forget to look up and take in what’s happening close by. In this instance, however, we did exactly that: looked around to check on the progress of three mixed-use projects on the eastern edge of NoLibs.

Immediately to the north of Fairmount Ave., 700-30 N. Delaware Ave. is making its presence felt. The western building of this complex is now at full height, sporting the largest cornice we can remember on a new building. 466 units and 15K sqft of retail space are coming here, with the design from JKRP Architects featuring a heavy dose of classic lines and materials. That new retail space – much like another project we’ll touch on shortly – will line a new pedestrian walkway which cuts north-south through the center of the site. Additionally, developer Saxum Real Estate has freshened up the existing 1830s buildings on the southern end of the property, which signs indicate are available for lease. Foundations for the Delaware Ave.-facing building have recently been poured, meaning this former bus parking lot is about to look quite different.

Looking NW from the corner of Fairmount & Delaware Ave., foundations in the forefront
A look at the future of the corner
A closer look at the beefy cornice
1830s homes with 2020s apartments
The future retail walkway will sit immediately next to the historical homes

Looking toward the water, one is immediately met with the progress at 501 N. Columbus Blvd., better known as the former Festival Pier site. While there are no longer concerts here, there is a huge development that will bring us yet another 470 apartments to the block. Rivermark Northern Liberties, the name of this project from Haverford Properties and Jefferson Apartment Group, has been flying along as of late, with the northern building now making major progress. A whopping 11 retail spots will be included here in this contemporary design from Bernardon, anchored by a Sprouts in the southern building (which is looking like it’s getting pretty close). While there will be 313 spaces for cars, there will also be 181 bicycles spaces, along with a brand-new walking trail around the riverside of the property, featuring gorgeous new art installations and a public park on the south side.

A look at Rivermark Northern Liberties from the base of Spring Garden St.
A rendering of what is to come
Progress moving quickly on the northern of the two buildings
The southern building will include the Sprouts market
Another view of the property, with the pathway work obscured by the rocks
A look at the trails and art to come

Our last stop today, while technically not on the water at 200 Spring Garden St., sits a whopping two blocks away. The northern companion to another project we just checked on, The Noble features a design from Handel Architects, and is looking further along every time we see it. This National/KRE-led project will eventually have its own retail walkway along American St. to go along with its 360 units. The curves here are prominent, with a rounded main corner complemented by the rounded corbels at the top of the dark brick structure. 83 parking spaces are accessed via 2nd St., with over 5,000 sqft of retail on the ground floor joining the recently finished, bi-level flagship City Fitness.

The Noble at the SW corner of 2nd & Spring Garden
And the rendering, not much different save for the mature trees along the sidewalk
The dramatic entryway, with some awesome steel work
The City Fitness, already open inside
A look at the west-facing facade (and some spring blooms)
A look at the back of the building from 3rd St.
An amenity deck and pool will sit on this side of the project

So, that’s nearly 1,300 units and tens of thousands of square feet of retail space coming to these few blocks, and soon. To say that this will change the area is the understatement of the year, as there was almost nothing going on here before, aside from concerts in the summer. These projects are helping wrest control of the waterfront away from roads and cars, back into the hands of nearby residents and visitors looking to safely and comfortably enjoy the river’s splendor. We truly cannot wait to see the completion of this once desolate stretch into a vibrant urban environment.