Four years ago, we told you about plans for Liberty Square, a massive mixed-use project from Blackstone Development planned for a large parcel bordered by Thompson Street, N. American Street, Stiles Street, and Germantown Avenue. Then… we waited. And we waited some more. At the end of 2014, it looked like construction was getting started… but it wasn’t. So we waited a little longer. Finally, last fall, after we have kind of given up hope that the ambitious project was going to happen, construction got started.
We were in the area the other day and figured we’d share some images of the progress.
A reminder that this project will entail 201 apartment units over three buildings, a 153 space underground parking lot, a bunch of retail space, and a courtyard in the middle. You can see that the Thompson Street building is framed out, and it seems the building on Germantown Avenue will be the next to rise. The concept is very similar to the Piazza just on the other side of Girard Avenue, and we can only hope that the retailers that open at Liberty Square will have greater success than the stores at the Piazza. The renderings from the Blackstone rendering would seem to suggest a more utilitarian and businesslike courtyard than at the Piazza, which we feel was built mostly as a party space.
It’s funny, when we first told you about this project way back when, we were hopeful that its construction might inspire other development in the surrounding neighborhood. At the time, South Kensington was seeing some development here and there, but we believed it could have used a little something to kick things up a notch. As you’re probably well aware, South Kensington has boomed over the last few years, even though Liberty Square wasn’t happening yet. Turns out we were wrong and the neighborhood didn’t need anything extra; it just experienced rapid development relatively organically.
And more development could be on the horizon. Remember Soko Lofts? It’s another Piazza-like project in South Kensington that we told you about a few months before we told you about Liberty Square. Like Liberty Square, it was significantly delayed. Unlike Liberty Square, construction hasn’t started yet.
With construction proceeding apace at Liberty Square, perhaps it’s reasonable to expect that work could soon finally get moving at the Soko Lofts site. We see that zoning permits were pulled a couple months ago, giving us a sense that we could actually see something happen here before the end of the year. And if not, maybe sometime in 2018. If nothing else, we’ve shown we can be patient for this kind of thing.