Roughly a thousand years ago, we first told you about one of our least favorite architectural eyesores in the city. The former Liberty Shopping Plaza at the northwest corner of 5th & Spring Garden was about as appealing as a pile of cinderblocks. Now that we think about it, the shopping center wasn’t much more than a pile of cinderblocks, so there you go. Apart from Silk City right next door, there was very little reason to hang around this area just a few short years ago. Things have changed though, highlighted by the demolition of this unfortunate commercial building.

A quick example of the former shopping center's "charm"

New plans for the site came to light in February 2020, when BLTa dropped renderings for a proposed 12-story tower with 382 apartments, 211 parking spaces and about 60K sqft of retail. In case you were worried about huge and vacant commercial space, an Amazon Fresh grocery store will anchor the low-rise portion of the site. About a year ago, we started to see movement at the property, and are happy to report that this baby is now well underway and above ground. We made a visit to the site to check on progress, so let’s see where we are currently and what is to come for the block.

Heavy machinery and steel going up on site
Current view of site from 6th & Spring Garden
Rendering of tower looking northeast from 6th & Spring Garden
View looking northwest from 5th & Spring Garden, with looming tower crane
Future view from 5th St.
View looking west from 5th St., with site on the left and Liberty Square's front yards to the right
Northern neighbors will lose Center City views, gain a grocery store

Quite a change from the old shopping center, don’t you think? You can see how this project bumps directly into the Liberty Square townhomes to the north, filling a major gap in the street grid. We had speculated previously about a second tower on the western, low-rise portion of this site, but our untrained engineering eye leads us to believe this is probably not happening based on the structural work. Still, this area is exploding with so much action that we had to look no further than across 6th Street to check out another game-changing development.

Current view of Fairmount Manor from 6th & Green St., with Helping Hands Rescue Mission building to remain
View from 6th and Fairmount, fence is up and apartments appear empty
A reminder of what's to come
400+ units will change the feel of this section of NoLibs

A demolition permit was issued for this 400+ unit project at 650 Fairmount Ave. just last week, so we are excited to see this moving as well. The entire block is now fenced off, so we’ll give you another update once things are in progress. These two catty-corner projects will massively change the vibe of Spring Garden Street, as these projects are just the tip of the development iceberg. Now please excuse us as we imagine how awesome this stretch will be once the Spring Garden Greenway transforms this car-choked thoroughfare. Just be sure to save us a table at Silk City. And if that’s not possible, we’ll meet at the Yards taproom, which ain’t a bad backup plan.