The property at 500 N. Columbus Blvd. is huge, covering about two acres and encompassing a collection of buildings that were originally occupied by the Philadelphia Warehousing and Cold Storage Company. The buildings were constructed over a couple decades in the late 19th and early 20th century, and were collectively added to the local Historic Register quite recently. The historic designation is not only based on the architecture of the buildings representing a link to the industrial history of the Delaware waterfront, but also to preserve the iconic and incredibly visible American flag mural on a southern facade of the property.
As this is a development blog, you might find it curious that we’re bringing this property to your attention, given that it was recently designated historic. The building was constructed for cold storage, so there are no windows- this would make any sort of historically appropriate adaptive reuse a bit tricky, to say the least. So you might be wondering about our angle here.
Like we said, the property is quite large and consists of multiple buildings. One of the buildings on the site isn’t so historic, and therefore wasn’t designated with the rest of the property. That would be the white stucco building at the corner of Front & Spring Garden which was last used as a pizza shop, but has been shuttered for years. The building sits on a roughly 8,000 sqft section of the property which is being condo-ed off from the rest of the site.
The owners of the property have received a zoning permit to construct a 7-story building here, with retail on the first floor and 62 units upstairs. Here’s a rendering of the project, to give you a sense of what might appear here in the near future:
In a bit of an interesting twist, the owners of the site are apparently not seeking to redevelop the property, but are instead looking to sell off the development site to a new owner for $3.5M. The listing not only provided the rendering above, but also provides some detail on the potential financials for the proposed building and also includes the stipulation that the sellers receive an 80 sqft carveout on the first floor for a kiosk area. We should note that it’s possible that the current owners will end up building this thing in the end- it’s not all that unusual for an owner to explore the possibility of selling a property pre-construction and then ultimately do it themselves if they make the determination that self-performing is the most appropriate approach. Still, if you’ve always dreamt of building your own apartment building and you have a few million bucks to spare, this could be your time to shine!
On its face, this development site may feel like a bit of a stretch. Even though a potential building would rise seven stories, it would still have other buildings which stand slightly taller right next door. Delilah’s is right next door and I-95 is just a few steps further to the west. That being said, booming Northern Liberties is just on the other side of I-95. The Delaware River waterfront is half a block to the east. Not only have we seen other projects on this block, including the building at Hope & Spring Garden that was built a couple years back, but there are big plans nearby, including the Festival Pier site and hundreds of units planned just a block to the north. Once those projects move forward, this area will be teeming with new residents and another 62 units will feel like just a drop in the bucket.