As North Front Street has evolved over the last half decade or so, different blocks have experienced the changes to a different extent. On the 1500 block, for example, the entire west side has gone from an industrial building to the mixed-use Oxford Mills, while the east side has seen an old church converted into office space and the creation of the entrance to the back garden at Suraya. The 1900 and 2000 blocks have both seen the construction of some significant new apartment buildings, one of which looks like a giant solar panel.

The 1300 block certainly hasn’t been immune to the changes seen up and down the corridor. Wm. Mulherin’s Sons is one of the best restaurants in town and opened in a renovated former distillery back in 2016. Fishtown Bikes N Beans opened in a former garage around the same time. A huge vacant lot was converted into a surface parking lot and trust us, it was a rare situation where a surface lot was a huge improvement. And of course, one of our favorite buildings in town is on this block, the mixed-use building at 1312 N. Front St. which looks like a ski slope. It’s crazy to think that as recently as 2014, this address was sitting vacant.

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1312-1318 N. Front St., back in 2014
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Current view

A few years ago, we told you about some ongoing construction next door, where an old garage was turning into a mixed-use building with retail on the first floor and four units above. That building is now long finished, and the first floor is occupied by Flotation, which has relocated from a space on East Girard. This company offers sensory deprivation treatments in water tanks, which honestly sounds kind of amazing right now, though we don’t imagine they’re operating during the current government-mandated shutdown.

New building from the north
Better view of the facade

Next door, at 1316-18 N. Front St., you can see there’s another new building that’s currently under construction. This edifice is replacing a couple of three-story brick buildings with a new five-story apartment building with 11 units. The project also has three parking spaces, accessed from the rear, to meet the parking requirement in the CMX-3 zoning district. Incidentally, the zoning for the property could have supported a few more units, we have to think that the unit count was depressed by size constraints of the lot as well as the aforementioned parking requirement.

Why such a building would have a parking requirement just a block and a half away from the Girard El Station, we’ll never understand. C’mon, let’s make the Girard Station a TOD (transit oriented development) hub and get rid of parking requirements nearby! And while we’re at it, let’s do that for just about every El stop and Broad Street Line stop in greater Center City! Who’s with us?