There’s a funny little nook at the north end of Old City thanks to the criss-cross of off-ramps and nearby highways, and separated from the rest of the neighborhood by the Ben Franklin Bridge. This area is typically pretty sleepy, consisting of a mix of historic rowhomes, apartment conversions in former industrial buildings, mixed in with the occasional small business that pops up in sometimes surprising places. The lot at 416-24 Vine St. is one of those places where a business made some sense, at least up until recently. This low-rise structure is home to the William Mac Millan Company, a poultry wholesaler that has been around for well over a century. Being so close to exiting cars and trucks was a perfect spot when the neighborhood was home to fewer residents, but with development making a major impact along Vine Street, it should come as no surprise that this building was on the radar for redevelopment.
Thanks to a submission to the Historical Commission, we know now that something new is in store for the site. A six-story, 70-unit apartment building is planned to rise here in place of the 1940s era low-rise structure. This building will feature a small commercial space on the north side of the site, demarcated by tan-colored awnings. The Ambit Architecture-designed project taps into the area’s historic past, getting inspiration from the variety of structures in the immediate vicinity.
With developable parcels in greater Center City getting gobbled up left and right, it’s no surprise that these lots (which have a boatload of potential due to their zoning) are targeted for larger proposals. This project was recently denied by the Architecture Committee, so look for a redesign, but it’s encouraging seeing things moving forward. This parcel has easy access to all of the amenities in Old City, as well as the booming activity just north of here in southern Northern Liberties, so we can see why developers would be interested in dropping down 70 apartments in this increasingly dense part of the neighborhood.
Perhaps we’ll even see some movement on the underutilized, CMX-3 lot at 246 N. Lawrence St., at the southern end of the block, which is currently home to a billboard and a tiny garage. We had dreams that this parcel may be developed as well, though the current owners actually jumped on the meeting, stating concerns about billboard visibility in light of the proposed project nearby. Maybe next century…