As Northern Liberties continues to trend upward (in terms of prices and retail diversity), it’s a little curious that two prominent and enormous parcels remain vacant on the northern side of the neighborhood. Half a year ago, we wondered whether something might be happening with the large triangular lot bordered by Girard, 2nd Street, and Germantown Avenue, but there’s been no action there since our last visit. Today we look at the large lot at 1101 N. 2nd St., to the east of the Piazza and to the south of the Shops at Schmidt’s, a property that’s been used for surface parking for the last several years.

Piazza Parking Overhead
Overhead view

A reader reached out recently though, giving us the heads up that the lot is now completely fenced-in, putting out the roughly one hundred people that had been parking there on the regular. The reader directed our attention to a sign on the property which confirms that this is an intentional act, not some kind of miscommunication with a fencing company. Check it out:

Lot is closed up
Sign is posted
Peeking inside the fence

Like the Girard Avenue property mentioned above, this property is also owned by Tower Development, the company that developed the two major projects nearby. Almost a decade ago, Tower had plans approved 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. Could the closing of the surface parking lot be the first step in a process that ends in that project finally coming together? Could Tower have alternate ideas about the property, with all this time having passed since the original plans came together? Or is it possible that the parking lot was never exactly legal and the owner of the property doesn’t have any immediate plans for the property but didn’t want to continue to carry the insurance risk?

Piazza, across the street

Any of these possibilities could eventually prove to be true, but we’re obviously hoping for something to happen here soon. The new management at the adjacent Piazza hasn’t exactly been hitting it out of the ballpark, as the property doesn’t have nearly the buzz it once possessed. We have to think that the redevelopment of the large property next door would give the Piazza (and its lagging retail spaces) a real shot in the arm, while providing additional amenities to the surrounding neighborhood. We also have to think that if something doesn’t happen here relatively soon, we won’t see any construction on this parcel during the current cycle, which has seen a boom in apartment construction. It would indeed be a shame if this property sits fallow over the next few years, especially if it doesn’t have the incidental community benefit of providing off-street parking in the interim.

Has anyone around the neighborhood heard any rumors of imminent construction here?