Work Begins on Mixed-Use Building Next to I-95

It's taken some time, but work has finally gotten started on a new mixed-use building at 117 Spring Garden St., a property that sits right next to I-95 and across the street from one of Philadelphia's classiest shopping centers.

New hole in the ground

Shopping center across the street

We last visited this property at the end of 2013, describing the efforts the developers made to satisfy the desires of the NLNA by stepping down the height of the building on its northern side. A reminder, this project will mean 24 apartments, a first floor retail space (which we truly don't understand) and eight parking spots. Here, check out some renderings:

Project rendering looks artistic

Overhead rendering shows solar panels and a stepped down rear

Larry Freedman, chair of the NLNA zoning committee, made a strong prediction when we spoke to him about this project almost two years ago. He said “sometimes what [developers] do is get it all set up and then they sell it.” And wouldn't ya know, that's exactly what happened. The project got approved by the ZBA in January of 2014, and soon after, the developers listed the property for sale. A few months later, new developers stepped in, paying $1.05M for the property with approvals. The listing suggested that the apartments would be sold off as condos, but we're not necessarily confident that a condo play will work here. Better, we'd think, to go with rental apartments, at least in the short term, and perhaps take a rental-to-condo approach like the nearby Penn Treaty Village Pennthouses. Who knows, in a few years, maybe condos will make more sense here.

Meanwhile, we will wonder about the planned retail space on the first floor of this building. This area gets foot traffic from people going to the El station, but otherwise it's a lot of cars. What would be logical for this space other than a convenience store or an office of some kind? Generally we're big believers in mixed-use, but this seems like a really tough location for a business to make it work. Or else, perhaps someone who lives nearby can offer some different thoughts on the location?