In Northern Liberties, the 900 block of Front Street has seen unprecedented action in the last couple of years. Eleven homes were recently finished, built on a lot that's basically next to I-95. A Crossfit gym then opened across the street. Next to the gym, eight new homes are under construction, a project we first told you about last year. Immediately to the south of those homes looms another project that seems to be on track thanks to rezoning.
Last October, developers presented plans for seven homes at 927-31 N. Front St. to the NLNA Zoning Committee. That presentation was largely informational, and the community group asked the developers to return with elevations drawings, facade details, and additional information about how the project would interact with the billboard base that would divide it into two different sections. We can appreciate how a large billboard in the middle of a residential development could possibly complicate things, ya know?
In December, the developers returned with some additional information about the project. They proposed four large homes, each with two-car garages, and three smaller homes with one-car garages on the other side of the billboard pole. NLNA still had concerns about the project, including drainage, the insurability of the homes that would have a billboard directly overhead, and other issues around maintenence of the billboard and its pole. Seriously, how will the billboard company even access the thing if it's surrounded by homes on all sides?
We figured that this thing would be coming back to NLNA eventually. Interestingly though, a zoning permit was pulled in April to build two (ostensibly multifamily) buildings. Were their refusals somehow eliminated, thereby cutting out community involvement? According to Larry Freedman, NLNA zoning chair, the lot was rezoned as part of the Central Delaware District, and the community is now out of the loop. With the new zoning and some tweaks to the project, it seems the developers will be able to pull of this project by right. And while it's good news that there will be some new homes here, we'll be very interested to see how they account for billboard access in the future. Likewise, we'll be even more interested to see whether the reality of living under a billboard has any impact on the sales of these homes.