Given the recent holiday weekend, we couldn’t help but think of N. American Street, one of many patriotically named streets in the city. This street in South Kensington has seen an influx of development that is rivaled by few other areas in town. North American Street north of Girard Ave. was one of the least pedestrian-friendly streets in the city forever, with its width seemingly more suitable for a parking lot than a through street. This combined with the vacant lots that lined much of the stretch and the multitude of low-rise industrial and commercial uses didn’t make this corridor the most exciting or welcoming.

This started to change back in 2004 when the stately Crane Arts building was purchased and restored to become artist space. Just this year, the Clay Studio moved from its long-standing home in Old City to new digs at 1425 N. American St. just across the street from Crane Arts. As you might remember, there are a number of other projects going up in the area, so we figured we’d check in on a couple to update their progress.


Up the block at 1525 N. American St., a new building is taking shape. A little over two years ago, we told you that 110 units would rise for this mixed-use project, from developer Six Acre Capital and designed by HDO Architecture. When checking out the site, we were able to get a closer look at the incredible brickwork that will be used on the west-facing facade. The atypical placement of the brick provides for an extremely textured surface which should capture the light in gorgeous ways at different times of the day. This, paired with the deep-set windows, should break up the standard pattern of the windows across the front.

The Clay Studio, along with "The Talented Mr. Trotter: You Can Be Anything" mural by Roberto Lugo
1525 N. American St. earlier this year, topped out
Today, with weatherproofing and windows now in place as the facade work begins
A closer look at the deep-set windows, adding some real dimension to the structure
A close-up of the brick which will be used, looking organic and rustic

Two blocks further north at 1705 N. American St., another building is making great progress. Here, a 179-unit, mixed-use building is rising on the south side of the property. This project comes from Urban Intent and Atrium Design Group, and is now well out of the ground compared to our last visit. Clean lines and a dramatic entryway are the key features here, with ample commercial space on the ground floor, which will continue to enliven the area.

Just getting started back in February
Some major progress, with plenty of more to come
Closer look at the steelwork
Rendering of the final product
Closer view of residential and commercial entrances
A look at the future courtyard

Nearly 300 units will be added to the N. American St. corridor once these two projects finish up, and we are barely scratching the surface of everything going on in the vicinity. With even more people around, we expect more commercial space to join the fold. The reimagining of N. American St. has also wildly changed the feel of the area; bike lanes and stormwater plantings make the streetscape much more welcoming to pedestrians and bikers alike.

The Center City skyline peeking from behind the Crane Arts building

Combine this improvement with those skyline views we alluded to during our last article on the Clay Studio, and you can expect to see a lot more action in the area sooner than later. Let’s hope that these developments consider their impact on the community, as these major changes should take place with respect to those who have made this neighborhood home for so long. To be clear, we’re referring here to residents and not light industrial businesses – those can move to the Northeast Philly tomorrow, to make room for more residential and commercial development.