Renovation and New Construction For Historic Clifton Mills on Berks

There’s an awesome building at 1813-55 N. Howard St. which is currently undergoing some renovation work, and there’s some additional development coming soon as well. First, allow us to share some history. The building, or rather, the collection of buildings, dates back to the late 1800’s and was originally known as Chatham Mills and later Clifton Mills. Like many other factories in this part of South Kensington, these companies were engaged in the milling and manufacturing of textiles, and the buildings are a wonderful connection to the industrial history of the neighborhood. Back in February of last year, the building was designated historic and we’re happy that it’ll be sticking around for the foreseeable future.

View on Berks
Looking down Howard

At some point in the last number of years, the building was converted to apartments on the upper floors, with commercial space on the first floor. The residential units look huge, and it appears that all of them have some prominent industrial leftovers from the building’s former life. Downstairs, a Loopnet listing indicates about 12K sqft of space that could host any number of different tenants.

Interior of a unit from an old listing

Perhaps due to the new historic designation, the owners of the property are doing some exterior work, notably replacing many windows. We imagine the new windows will have that old factory look, representing an aesthetic upgrade over the current double-hung vinyl windows. Figure the facade will also enjoy a significant cleanup effort.

But that’s not all, from what we can tell. While the majority of the building was designated historic, the southern section avoided designation. According to the transcript from the Historical Commission hearing, this section was deemed to not be significant, freeing the owners to demolish this section of the property. Coming soon, a six-story building with 27 apartments and underground parking. We’re still trying to decide whether we want this building to be faux-industrial so that it blends with its surroundings, or ultra-contemporary, so it doesn’t.

Section to be demoed
View from the east

This reminds us of another project nearby, at 102 W. Berks St., which we told you about a little over a year ago. That building, which goes up 5 stories and has 28 units, is from the same development group, and you can see, it’s been framed out and is awaiting sheathing. Taken together, these projects are great additions to the South Kensington/Fishtown border, pushing up the density right next to the Berks El station. In many ways, these are extensions of the development we’ve seen up and down Front Street and should not only mean more customers for businesses on that corridor, but on Frankford Avenue just a couple blocks away as well.

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