We’ve waxed poetic about the Workshop of the World and the changing nature of the Riverwards more often than James Harden expresses displeasure with his current team. But certain events serve as more momentous harbingers to change than others. This year’s demolition of the colloquially named Galvo, the former heavy industrial site that stood cheek and jowl with the residential rowhouses at 2501 E. Hagert St., is such an event. We were here back in pre-Covid 2020 when there were plans to demolish the highly contaminated site in order to make way for 27 townhomes. After a three-and-a-half-year delay, it seems as if things are progressing at long last.

Galvo-00 H And A
The Galvo as it looked from January 2020 until recently, as seen from Hagert & Almond
Galvo-01 H And A
The current view at the corner, with just a tiny vestige of the Galvo still upright
Galvo-02 H And A
The future view from the same spot

Apparently, remediation plans were OK’ed, as a demo permit from May means the site now is nothing more than a pile of bricks, with just a small ruin of the wall still stubbornly entrenched. The design coming our way from KJO Architecture takes a creative approach to the slightly pinched site: a steady row of townhouses along E. Hagert St. pair with another row along E. Letterly St., with the Letterly houses featuring varied designs to fit the footprint. The brick used on much of the facade is reminiscent of the brick on the Galvo, with the massing of the housing keeping a similar roof height to the former industrial building.

An aerial map of the site shows the layout of the buildings, with a drive aisle between
Galvo-04 Hagert-gaul
Another rendering from Hagert & Gaul shows contemporary approach
Galvo-05 Letterly-gaul
Rendering from Letterly & Gaul shows the slightly different homes

We felt a touch conflicted standing at the base of the construction site. Knowing the area is free from dangerous chemicals from the past (fingers crossed) is definitely a huge positive, as is more residential density. Seeing this lightning rod of tradition vs. progress no longer standing gave us a moment to pause and look around.

So, we literally paused and looked around.

And when we did that, we felt a touch better, as we were surrounded by homes both new and old. Just to the northeast, nine new homes are up at 2508 E. Cumberland St., which we last told you about in February 2021. This mid-block parcel was formerly a warehouse and is now being developed by Zatos Investments, with the modern design coming to us from Gnome Architects. Called Letterland Court, these homes are looking mighty close to completion, with the remaining three-bedroom units going for $800K and up.

Current look at the project from E. Hagert St.
Very true to the rendering

Lastly, we step south to 2600 E. Hagert St., where 31 townhouses developed by Bullard Builders are also on the verge of wrapping up. We last reported on this way back in 2018, when 41 houses from HDO Architecture were on the docket. The plans for Hagert Estates have been scaled back, but the contemporary homes are now available, injecting even more residences where none stood before.

Hagert Estates as it looks today
A look at the full site renderings

For those counting home, that’s 67 more homes on these former industrial sites. Whether you’re a fan of the way things were or are clamoring for even more construction at this intersection point of Olde Richmond and Fishtown, there is no denying that things are changing fast. Would we like to have seen more density? Sure, but we understand the difficulties of that sort of pursuit. It only makes sense that the city continues to evolve as industry, transportation, job centers, and residential preferences shift over time. Keeping a neighborhood static is always about context, as there truly isn’t a spot in the city that hasn’t had numerous uses since the grid first popped up between the rivers well over 300 years ago. As Sam Cooke likes to remind us all these years later: a change in gonna come, indeed.