The northern reaches of Old City can feel like a bit of a no-man’s land, with the collection of off-ramps, bridges, and major streets keep this portion of the neighborhood somewhat isolated from the rest of the area. However, that has slowly been changing as we’ve seen more and more development creep up toward Northern Liberties. The property at 416-24 Vine St. is a perfect example of this, as the former industrial building near the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge has had its eyes set on a mixed-use future for over a year now. We are happy to report that this project is now underway, as demolition of the existing building is nearly finished.

A map of the Nebraska-shaped North Old City
The current view from N. Lawrence & Vine St., with the building now gone
A look at the latest version of the project from the same spot

Let’s get caught up: Lily Development has plans here for a 75-unit building, with a design coming from Ambit Architecture. Previously called The McMillan Building, the new name for this mixed-use building is now Lotus Lofts, which will have a heavy focus on nature and community. After designs were initially approved by the Historical Commission last year, it appears there may have been some slight updates to the design, at least if an Instagram post from the developer is any indication. Despite this lack of clarity, the old building here is almost gone, with six stories, 13 parking spaces, and ground floor commercial space slated to rise for this industrial-inspired design. Let’s make our way around the site and see how the plans (may have) evolved.

Looking west shows heavy machinery and a whole bunch of rubble
A look at the NW corner of the building, all that remains
Another view looking across the adjacent lawn
Plans approved by the Historical Commission featured a gray facade with mostly rectangular windows
A more recently posted rendering shows off a lighter color and rounded windows

No matter which version of this project moves forward, we are extremely excited to see this happening. As we said, this is at the far reaches of the neighborhood, so the additional influx of residents and business-goers will help shake up the sleepy nature of the block. Another project just up the block at 5th & Wood St. may soon add another 74 units, though there were no signs of action yet when we poked around.

The parking lot at 5th & Wood, still fenced-off and awaiting its future

However, there is plenty of action just to the north, where another 220 units are making their way up. The project at 417 Callowhill St. is nearly topped off, with just the roof deck and decorative fins remaining on this purely residential building. It is impossible to miss this as you look around the area, and we are excited to see that progress looks identical to the contemporary approach from Bernardon.

The current view of The Keystone from 5th & Callowhill, nearly topped off
A rendering of what to expect in the future

It is pretty amazing how much action is happening in this neck of the woods. For decades, there has been little reason to mosey over to these blocks, unless you had a specific reason to find yourself in the maze of streets in this hard-to-access area. Soon enough, though, there will be much more foot traffic and life just north of the bridge. Now if only our Sixers can find some life this season, with or without a certain former MVP.