With the Philadelphia real estate market on a hot streak that’s been going for years, we’ve seen numerous white elephant buildings finally land in developers’ crosshairs. Examples include the former Spring Garden School in West Poplar, converted into an affordable housing building, and the long vacant Poth Brewery, now getting converted into market rate apartments and a bunch of commercial space. The Independence Press building at 11th & Green is another fine example of a building that’s been sitting vacant for years, and now, after some stops and starts, it’s finally on its way to being brought back into active use.
We first brought this building to your attention roughly six years ago, as the 156K sqft building was listed for sale for a little over $7M. This listing came with zoning already in place to convert the building into a 92-unit apartment building with 92 parking spots. Nobody jumped at the asking price, and the property sold at auction in 2014, at a price of $3M. After the new owners came in, they put some fences up around the property, as you can see in the images above, and we were hopeful that work would finally commence. Then… nothing. The building changed hands again at the end of 2015, with the new buyers paying $5M, producing a phenomenal profit for the developers that owned it for about a year and a half.
Finally, the most recent buyers have moved forward with adaptive reuse efforts. As far as we can tell, the plans are largely the same as those that were approved back in 2010, though they’ve undergone some administrative changes over the years. We couldn’t tell you how much work has happened inside, but the exterior work has been comprehensive. The developers have cleaned up the old facade and they’ve installed all new windows which look tremendous. Check out the current state of affairs:
We have no doubt that people living near this edifice are thrilled that it’s finally getting redeveloped, and wish it could have happened years ago, when redevelopment plans first came to light. Then again, if you consider all the construction that’s happened on surrounding blocks in the time since the project was first approved, a large number of near neighbors weren’t around back then, so the wait hasn’t been so bad for everyone. No matter how long someone has lived around here though, it’s pretty clear that the current situation is a vast improvement over the longterm state of affairs. If possible, we’ll try to get a tour of the building once construction wraps up, we’ll be interested to see whether there were any original details preserved in the residential conversion. Even if not, we’re always excited to smell that new apartment smell.