Back when the Reading Terminal was still an actual train station and not a Convention Center meeting hall, there was a constant stream of trains rumbling through the West Poplar and Callowhill neighborhoods on an elevated viaduct. That viaduct, of course, is currently in the midst of a transformation into the Rail Park, a new public space whose first section opened to the public just this past summer. The last station before the final terminal was located at 9th & Spring Garden, and you can still see its blighted remains today. Right next to the Spring Garden station, at 915 Spring Garden St., the Reading Railroad built a five-story building, which it used as office space for many years. In case you weren’t sure who was using the building back in the early 1900s, they even were kind enough to carve the name of the company into the facade, above the front door.
Over the course of the 20th century, the building was used for many purposes, including as a textile factory, as a printer, for storage, and as artist studios. It’s currently under construction though, and soon enough, all of its past uses will be making of comeback of sorts.
Over the last several years, a company called Arts and Crafts Holdings has purchased numerous buildings in this general part of town, spending a couple hundred million dollars in the process. It’s no shock then, that this group is behind the renovation efforts at 915 Spring Garden, and that they’re taking a page out of their own playbook, from 990 Spring Garden across the street. Like 990, 915 will have a brew pub on its first floor. Instead of Roy Pitz, look for Triple Bottom Brewing Company on the first floor. Triple Bottom is a great company not just because they brew beer (a noble pursuit), but because their mission includes a commitment to employing people with criminal backgrounds that need a second chance, and a strong eye toward environmentalism. The next two floors will include 40 artist studios, and the upper floors will have office space that will be sliced and diced as tenants require. It’s a very unique situation, that this building that was used as offices, for industrial purposes, and as artist space will soon include all those uses at the same time.
This project comes about at a transitional time for this area. We’ve tracked the slow progress on the Spring Garden commercial corridor over the last several years, and frankly expected more growth since the opening of Union Transfer on the 1000 block. Perhaps another brew pub will help move things forward. To the north, we’ve seen tremendous residential growth, with the Spring Arts Point project finally approaching the finish line, adding dozens of units to the neighborhood in the decade since it got started. And as we mentioned, the Rail Park is also an agent of change to the south, attracting new residents and businesses while bringing people to an area that nobody really visited, previously. Of course, with Arts and Crafts Holdings now one of the largest single landowners in this area, it will be incumbent upon them to work with folks that have been here for a long time to collaborate on the future of this part of town. No matter how the rest of the neighborhood might evolve in the years to come, 915 Spring Garden should make a fine addition.