Northern Liberties was once a hub of industry, but only a handful of industrial businesses remain in the neighborhood as it has swung aggressively toward residential development over the last decade plus. And as land has become more valuable, we've seen some of the exodus first hand, with a notable example being the Trans Atlantic Company leaving the 400 block of Fairmount Avenue in favor of a residential project that's a combination of new construction and adaptive reuse. A similar but much smaller situation may soon play out at 1143 N. 3rd St., a warehouse that's been home to Cristalvetro Glass for a number of years.
Looking at historic maps, we see the building was used for fueling vehicles associated with "Girard Trans.," but we confess we aren't sure what that was. Streetcars, perhaps? Today, this building is a low-rise industrial structure surrounded by residences. So it should come as little surprise that the owners are looking to tear it down and replace it with a new mixed-use building. Plans were drawn up about a year ago for a by-right six-story building with 22 apartments and basement parking. More recently, the owners changes their plans to something requiring a variance, presenting a five-story building with 26 apartments and industrial use on the first floor and in the basement to NLNA a few months ago. We don't know how the community responded to the plan, but it's going to the ZBA next month.
Lest you think that a taller, high-density building doesn't make sense here, allow us to draw your attention to a couple of structures nearby. The Becker Building is just to the north, across Cambridge Street. This building was used for furniture manufacturing for most of the 20th century and was converted to residential use about ten years ago. Around the corner on Bodine Street, facing the rear of the to-be-demolished building on 3rd Street, we told you over the summer about the conversion of another former factory into 80 apartments.
It looks like parking is going to get a little tougher around these parts in the near future. Even so, the added density will be a boon for businesses nearby on West Girard and 2nd Street, making for a more vibrant and exciting neighborhood.