Ortlieb Square Project Moving Along Nicely But We’re Haunted By Ghosts

As Northern Liberties was home to countless manufacturing interests back in the day, it makes sense that several breweries once populated the neighborhood. Schmidt’s was an especially large and famous brewery which continued to operate through the late 1980s. Then it sat vacant for over a decade, until Tower Investments bought the large property and eventually built the Piazza on the site. Ortlieb’s has a similar story, dragged out over many additional years.

Ortlieb’s brewery was located at 3rd & Poplar and closed down in the early 1980s, having been purchased by Schmidt’s. The former brewery then sat vacant for about thirty years, eventually also getting purchased by Tower Investments. According to Hidden City, Tower looked into redeveloping the old brewery in 2007 but decided against it, and the buildings continued to deteriorate. Finally, in 2013, Tower made the decision to demolish the old brewery, a process that took about a year for some reason. Here’s a couple of shots of the property, prior to demolition:

In the past, looking up 3rd Street
View at 3rd & Poplar, in the past

About a year after the demolition was complete, we told you that Tower had sold the property to US Construction and that a new project, Ortlieb Square, was underway. At that time, formwork was in the ground, and the developers had already started pouring foundations. As you might expect, they’ve made some serious progress over the last two years, and many of the units are seemingly complete at this time.

Current view on 3rd St.
Corner of 3rd & Poplar
View from the north

In case you don’t remember, this project includes 18 duplexes and a mixed-use building at the corner of 3rd & Poplar with three apartments above a retail space. The mixed-use building is the one that’s currently getting exterior work done. As is typically the case with US Construction projects, it appears that the units will be rented out at first, and then sold at some point in the future. As far as we can tell, the upper units are being rented out for $3,000/mo, and the lower units are going for $2,500/mo. Each unit has 3 bedrooms, with the lower units having 2.5 bathrooms and the uppers having 3.5 baths and rooftop views. Each unit has parking, too.

While this project is obviously a huge step up from the vacant lot that was left after the brewery got torn down, it still leaves us feeling a little empty. In contrast to the residential project across the street, which replaced a lousy shopping center, Ortlieb Square is replacing a really attractive building that had some great architectural details and at one point was a fine candidate for adaptive reuse. Alas, the brewery is gone, with a brewpub turned jazz club and a bottling house turned architecture office as the best reminders of its existence.