To assume things will remain the same for 70 odd years tends to be a fool’s errand. Even the most solid and sturdy of people, places, or things tend to transform a bit as the seventh decade of existence wraps up. Now that we’ve tickled that existential itch, we zoom to 633-35 N. 5th St., at the southeastern corner of 5th & Fairmount. Back in 1955, this sharp corner was home to a luncheonette prior to serving other various commercial uses, before sitting seemingly vacant for the last number of years when we last made our way to the corner back in June ’21. But as much as we love the unusual one-story protrusion on the north part of the property, our lede probably gives you an idea of where this is going. Let’s pull a Marty McFly and check out the site over the years.

A picture of the corner as a luncheonette, nearly 70 years ago in 1955
No longer a luncheonette, but looking very similar in 2021
The fenced-off property is now missing half of the southern building

After we first heard about a potential project in 2021, Onion Flats presented plans to demolish the buildings to the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association (NLNA), with 16 units and ground floor commercial space slated to take their place. This four-story structure would also feature five parking spaces on this ICMX-zoned property. They presented plans once again in August 2021, eventually getting a variance to combine the lots, demolish the buildings, and put up a now 15-unit building, still over first-floor commercial and five parking spaces. We don’t have any drawings or renderings available, but work has begun thanks to the demolition permit that was issued in May.

Looking east across 5th St. at the demo
A closer look at the buildings and their altered facades at ground level
A look at the one-story projection from Fairmount Ave.
The back of the property looking a bit rough

We hope that something architecturally interesting ends up ascending at this increasingly prominent corner. While the buildings were most certainly in disrepair, they offered a unique character in this area that is making a sharp turn toward a residential future. Whatever does rise here will join a collection of modern projects and The Carson apartment tower on the block to the south. Additionally, Southern Land Company is adding another 329 rental units with its SCB-designed project at 5th & Spring Garden. This entire area used to be little more than open, muddy expanses and old industrial/commercial buildings, so the view down N. 5th St. is quite a sight these days.

A look south, with rowhomes, the completed Carson, and 329 units in progress at 5th & Spring Garden
A rendering of what's coming to the SE corner of 5th & SG

So, Northern Liberties continues its transformation to a slick, modern, residential neighborhood, building on the development we’ve seen for more than twenty years. Even those formerly brand-new homes from a couple decades back are beginning to look just a tad dated. But as someone incredibly wise once said, “time may change me, but I can’t trace time.” Turn and face the strain, folks.