Trading Drinks with Tiny Umbrellas for Twenty-one Homes in Northern Liberties

If you spin Rupert Holmes’ 1979 classic “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” every summer morning like we do, you’re familiar with the following stanza:

Yes, I like piña coladas

And gettin’ caught in the rain

I’m not much into health food

I am into champagne

Beautiful, timeless words. But what does this former chart-topping pop smash have to do with development? For those familiar, the Vesper Day Club at 1031 Germantown Ave. has provided a poolside spot in the heart of Northern Liberties to enjoy the sun and avoid said rain for several years now. This splash of glamor hidden behind the confines of old brick walls has served the glitterati of the Philadelphia social scene, acting as one of the few pool club bars in the city. But alas, no longer will patrons enjoy Patron (or champagne) by the water, as the pool club is closed and its demolition is imminent.

A shot of the vibe at Vesper Day Club, courtesy of BillyPenn.com
Brick exterior hides the urban oasis
Another view of the club, looking north across Germantown Ave.

It turns out, a residential turn is in the works. Twenty-one townhomes are planned to take the place of this low-rise pool club, filling in a busy stretch of NoLibs with even more residential density. Check out the info from the project’s Civic Design Review packet for some additional context:

Aerial shows the Phases 1 & 2, with the first phase consisting of the right half of the orange-shaded homes
Site plan shows layout and parking for Phase 1, along with the layout of the future phase

As you can see above, these 21 homes designed by JKRP Architects will form a triangle of sorts due to the diagonal intersections. This nifty site layout also includes submerged parking for the dual garages that will make up part of the cellar level for each home. On top of this will be a pedestrian podium, forming a walkway/courtyard with geometric planters presented in an organic pattern. Each home will feature three bedrooms with a primarily brick facade that straddles the neighborhood’s industrial past and modern present. There is also a small commercial space at the intersection of Germantown & W. Allen, added to the residential-only plans after substantial community engagement. The project received the OK from the Civic Design Review and received a zoning variance just last week, so things should be starting here sometime this summer.

View looking at the corner of Germantown & W. Allen at the commercial space
View looking south from Allen St. of submerged parking entrance
A more traditional brick look is broken up by the playful walking paths
An overhead shot looking east down Allen St. shows raised pedestrian paths open to the public above the parking access
Evening views of the shared courtyard looking rather inviting

Perhaps you noticed, plans identify this proposal as the first of multiple phases for the site. Immediately to the east, a surface parking lot sits where additional rowhouses will eventually follow. East of the lot, the Immaculate Conception Holy Catholic Church abuts N. Front St. to the east, and plans for this building are still in process. Fear not though, the church was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places back in 2019, so any changes will need Historical Commission approval, ensuring the character of the building remains intact.

Parking lot to the southeast will be part of Phase 2
The now-closed Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church on the east side of the site is a potential Phase 3

While this feels like a major change to this residential part of Northern Liberties, there are literally thousands of other folks who will be coming to the immediate area soon enough. Just to the north, the newly named Piazza Alta is well underway. We gave you an overview in February of what to expect and are happy to say things have been progressing apace since then. Immediately to the south, the Digsau-designed Mercato will eventually add an additional 280 units to the already busy area.

Looking north up Germantown Ave. at the under-construction Piazza Alta
A few new neighbors will be joining the fold
Looking south at the site of the future Mercato apartment tower
Future view of the Mercato building

If you are currently crying into your coconut-flavored cocktail, wondering where to swim in the coming years without straying beyond the borders of NoLibs, we have some good news for you. The Aqua Foro pool amenity that’s part of the Piazza development should satiate even the pickiest of pool-goers. Perhaps you’ll find us there reclining under an arch on a toasty evening in the future, dreamily humming along to our favorite summer anthem.

Rendering of the future Aqua Foro pool club across the street
Grecian beach vibes in the middle of Philadelphia
We wouldn't mind lounging here on a breezy summer evening

Keep an eye out for on-site updates from this and other Northern Liberties projects on our Instagram page.

Disclosure: OCF Realty, parent company of Naked Philly, is the developer of this project.