Market East has, for years, been the redheaded stepchild neighborhood of Center City. Despite its terrific location in the core of downtown Philadelphia, it’s traditionally been lacking in terms of housing and amenities, compared to say, Logan Square or Wash West. It always puzzled us that numerous tourists would stay in hotels near City Hall, but that commerce couldn’t find a way to thrive on the blocks of Market Street linking that area with the city’s historic section to the east.

The East Market project has changed that paradigm in a big way. Over the last several years, this project has meant the demolition of an unfortunate one-story building, the renovation of a couple of historic buildings, and the construction of several mixed-use towers which have dramatically changed the face of this neighborhood. To wit, look at this transformation:

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In 2014
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Some change indeed

National Real Estate Development is the developer responsible for East Market- and even though that project is still ongoing, they’re setting their sights on their next Philadelphia site. In a similar fashion to what they did in Market East, this developer is looking to a well located section of the city which is, for whatever reason, dramatically underused. The area in question is the western side of 2nd Street, between Callowhill and Spring Garden Streets. This stretch is used for industrial and commercial purposes, but given its proximity to Old City and Northern Liberties, along with the fact that it’s easily accessible to all the local highways, it should be used for higher and better purposes. And lo, that’s just what these developers are looking to do.

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City Fitness at 2nd & Spring Garden
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I-95 across the street
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Building at 2nd & Willow

Per the Philadelphia Business Journal, National has purchased four properties on this stretch from Arts + Crafts Holdings, but the article doesn’t go into detail on exactly what they’re planning to do. Next week though, Northern Liberties Neighbors Association will have a community meeting, and two huge projects will come to the community for informational purposes, ahead of Civic Design Review. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have drawings or all the specifics to share, but we can offer some general information.

At the southwest corner of 2nd & Spring Garden, the plans call for a 14-story building with 355 units and 105 parking spots. At 412 N. 2nd St., look for a 23-story building with 397 units and 106 parking spots. There may yet be future phases as well. In many ways, this feels like it will be a pared down East Market project, but on the western side of 2nd Street in the southern part of Northern Liberties. Ooh, that’s all four compass directions in one sentence. Gold star for us.

We don’t need to explain just how much of a sea change this project would represent for this stretch. Ever since Northern Liberties started its boom over the last two decades, it has sat on an island of sorts, separated from Old City by a dead zone between Callowhill and Spring Garden. By introducing hundreds of residents and ostensibly some commerce to this stretch of 2nd Street, all of a sudden there will be a vibrant stretch where pedestrians can comfortably travel between the two neighborhoods.

This will be a boon for Old City and especially Northern Liberties, making it far less cut off from downtown. Further this project should inspire additional development on the other underused blocks in the southern section of Northern Liberties, echoing the burst of construction currently happening on the other side of the neighborhood, close to Girard. For now though, we’ll just appreciate the two projects that we know about, and look forward to sharing some renderings, hopefully by next week.