Parking surely tightened up in Northern Liberties a few months ago, when the parking lot east of the Piazza and south of the Shops at Schmidt’s closed to the public. At the time, we had no idea what was going on with this property, but we had a couple of theories. We noted that Tower Development got approval about a decade ago to build a project called the Residences at Schmidt’s on this parcel, including a twenty-six story tower, a sixteen story tower, and a line of residences on Germantown Avenue. We wondered whether this project might finally be moving forward. We thought that Tower might have sold the lot to a different developers, since they sold off the Piazza a few years back. We also considered the possibility that Tower maintained ownership but had a different project in mind than they did back in the day.

A peek through the fence
Overhead view

That ding ding ding sound you hear is for everyone that picked door number three. A reader reached out to us a couple days ago after attending a community meeting at which Tower presented a new vision for this huge parcel. In short, the project calls for roughly 1,200 rental apartments, 45K sqft of retail space, and 350 parking spots. To put that into perspective, the the Piazza has 450-500 rental units and 100K sqft of retail space. Considering the retail difficulties in the Piazza, the focus on density here seems like a fantastic approach. And apparently the fact that parking will only be provided for 30% of the units didn’t cause much of a stir because of the easy access to public transit. The project will also include a large public space which will stretch from Germantown Avenue to Hancock Street, providing greatly improved pedestrian access to the El.

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Additional views, from the community meeting
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View of the massing of the project
Piazza 2 Philly
Project rendering from

This is a by-right development that still needs to go to Civic Design Review in April, but there’s otherwise nothing bureaucratic that’s going to hold it back from moving forward. At the meeting, the developers indicated that the project will get started in late 2018 or early 2019, that it will be built in phases, and that it should be wrapped up in about five years. The first building will rise on the northern side of the parcel, next to the Acme parking lot. In our estimation, groundbreaking can’t come soon enough.