As major streets go, N. Front Street between the Ben Franklin Bridge and approximately Laurel St. is quite an unusual stretch. The thoroughfare acts more as an alley in this area, with Belgian block streets and a mix of residential and commercial buildings forming a sometimes-uninviting presence. Though new row houses and a small apartment building have gone up over the last several years, we are seeing this section of Old City/Northern Liberties/Fishtown start to fill in a bit more of late. Today we are focusing on 901 N. Front St., where this unremarkable building and parking lot recently changed hands.

901NFront-01 Aerial
An aerial shows the building and parking lot that just sold
View from Front & Poplar isn't the most inspiring
Another view of 901 N. Front from Poplar & Canal
A closer look at the low-rise building

While there are no specific plans yet for this CMX-3 zoned lot, according to a listing, this approximately 15K sqft property could become 96 units by right – most certainly a sizable project if the future owners choose to maximize its zoning potential. Thankfully though, we don’t have to go far to see even larger projects much further along. Looking east from the same corner of Poplar & Canal, 918-80 N. Delaware Ave. is now well above ground and making its presence felt. Taking the place of several low-rise buildings, this project from HDO Architecture will bring 462 units and plenty of commercial space across several buildings.

View looking east from the corner of Poplar & Canal St.
View from N. Delaware Ave. shows rising elevator towers and lower-level steel
Rendering of the future view along N. Delaware Ave.

If that wasn’t enough, just a block or so to the south, yet another project we recently covered is now very much underway. A mixed-use project is in store for 700-30 N. Delaware Ave., where 466 more units are joining the party. This multi-building project will introduce a pedestrian walkway lined with retail, giving even more street life to this former bus parking lot. Saxum Real Estate and JKRP Architects have teamed up here to deliver a throwback design that is also saving the row of historic buildings – three cheers for adaptive reuse!

View from Beach & Fairmount, with the site fully cleared and ready to go
Rendering of the huge change coming to the block

It is wildly exciting seeing all of the action along this long-neglected strip that was severed from the rest of the city with the construction of I-95 several decades back. There will be a thousand more folks here soon enough, giving a huge energy bump to what sometimes feels like a back alley for cars passing through the area. More and more every day, that unfortunate chasm between Old City, Northern Liberties, and the waterfront is slowly being pieced back together. Let’s hope that 901 N. Front St. can get in on that action in the near future.