We've been thinking about Northern Liberties' Transatlantic building for years. Way back in early 2012, we wondered about this huge quasi-blighted structure at 420 Fairmount Ave. and we were surprised to learn that the Trans Atlantic Company, which produces commercial hardware, was still actively using the property. We mused that, considering all of the development in the neighborhood, the hulking building with boarded up windows would soon get sold and the property would move from industrial to residential use. We just hoped that this eventual change would involve adaptive reuse rather than demolition.

In the past

By the winter of 2014, developers had purchased the building and were going back and forth with the NLNA on a complicated project that involved some demolition, some adaptive reuse, and the construction of a bunch of new homes. We checked in about six months ago, and several homes were under construction on 5th Street as part of the project from PRDC Properties, and some demolition was getting underway on Fairmount Avenue. When we passed by last week, we discovered that several smaller buildings on Fairmount were going or gone. Interior demolition appears to be underway inside the six-story building.

Looking west on Fairmount Ave.

Several structures have come down

Looking east on Fairmount Ave.

A reminder, this project will ultimately include twenty five new homes on Fairmount Avenue, Wallace Street, and 5th Street. In addition, the large building on Fairmount Avenue and a slightly smaller building on Wallace Street are being converted to residential use, with 41 apartments on the horizon. The project holds a great deal of interest to us not only because of the fact that the developers are reusing an awesome old building, but also because they've been able to cleverly lay out a complex project on an oddly shaped lot. Here, check out what we mean:

Project site plan

Overhead rendering

When we see it laid out today, it's tempting to think that we would have laid the project out in exactly the same fashion. But we have to imagine that the developers, along with Interface Studio Architects, went back and forth a bunch of times trying to decide what to save and what to demolish, how to lay out the site to maximize parking access, and how to maximize the unit count and minimize wasted space. It's our opinion that, with a challenging task, they did a fine job- we wouldn't have even come close.

Rendering of future homes plus converted building

Closeup of Transatlantic building and homes to the east

The first round of homes, located on 5th and Wallace Streets, have been selling briskly, with at least eight of the first eleven homes already sold. We'd contend that the homes on Fairmount Avenue will be even more desirable, and once construction begins the sales numbers will stay strong. Honestly, we're just excited to see what the big building looks like with windows. It's the small stuff, folks.