Along Front Street between Spring Garden Street and Girard Avenue, there’s plenty of open space, and many vacant sites and overgrown lots. Considering the look of the surrounding neighborhoods, this area sticks out like a sore thumb.

Slowly, the parcels around Front Street are being developed. At Front & Brown, the Penn Treaty Village PENNTHOUSES were completed a few months ago. And a block away, members of the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association Zoning Committee approved plans for the transformation of 900 Front St. into town homes, replacing nearly 11K sqft of vacant land that’s right next to I-95.

The lot

The project, designed by architect Steve Maffei of Old City’s Abitare Design Studio, calls 11 single-family homes with parking. Even though the structures will have front-end garages “we needed to get some development done over there,” said Larry Freedman, NLNA zoning chair. He said that eight years ago was the last time developers expressed interest in this site, then with a vision for town homes as well.

Designs are waiting to be finalized, but NLNA asked developers to extend the proposed second-floor balconies farther onto Front Street to allow for “more eyes on the street.”  They also asked for more landscaping and lighting. We reached out to Maffei to try to get our hands on some renderings, but his client isn’t ready to release them just yet.

Across the street

But as Freedman said, this is an area where blight has lived for years. And there’s plenty of room for more development, like right across the street where several auto garages aren’t exactly a welcoming sight. The only thing is, with 95 running just about parallel to Front Street in this area, there’s a fair amount of noise let alone the aesthetically aggravating elements, like maybe looking out the front-door to see traffic, that must be considered. Still, a series of homes were built on this block a few years ago- does anyone know how that worked out?

Liberty Gates, just up the street

–Lou Mancinelli