Unexpectedly, Fewer Units and Less Parking at 6th & Brown

When we last visited the one-story commercial building at 723 N. 6th St. in January, snow covered the ground and new owners were preparing for their first presentation to the community. Their plans called for the demolition of the building and the construction of a five-story structure with 30 apartments and 22 parking spots. Because the site is archaically zoned for industrial use, the proposal needs to go through the community process and ultimately recieve a variance from the ZBA.

Passing by the property today, we noticed that it looks remarkably similar to how it looked several months ago, snow notwithstanding.

Current view

But a fresh looking zoning notice on the property inspired us to investigate what's been happening over the last few months.

Zoning notice

It turns out, this project has resulted in quite a bit of back and forth between the developers and the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, with at least three community meetings taking place to discuss it. As we said previously, the initial plan called for 30 apartments and 22 parking spaces, but it's clear that the NLNA wanted at least some retail component. Looking at some NLNA meeting minutes, we see the project went through several iterations, with a proposal for 30 apartments, 19 parking spaces and a commercial space followed by plans for 33 apartments, 13 parking spaces, and a commercial space. Finally, at the last meeting, it appears that all parties agreed on 26 apartments, 14 parking spaces, and a retail space.

We weren't at these meetings, but we confess we're a little surprised that the community pushed for mixed-use at this corner at the expense of parking spots. Northern Liberties has a wonderful collection of neighborhood retail centered along the 2nd Street commercial corridor. On surrounding blocks, there are many corner businesses, some of which have been around for many years. But at 6th & Brown, four blocks from the main corridor and three blocks from Spring Garden Street, we're concerned that any business will struggle to get the critical mass of customers needed to survive. Perhaps someone who lives nearby could shed some light on the potential for retail at this corner?