After we visited two side-by-side properties on Vine St. the other day, we decided to gather our thoughts (and snag an iced coffee) at the now-finished LVL North project on the NW corner of N. Broad & Spring Garden. As we grabbed our seat, we were facing the surface parking lot at the NE corner of Broad & Spring Garden, where there has been a slew of plans over the years. After developer Eric Blumenfeld first proposed a low-rise retail development on this transit-oriented site, a tower dubbed Mural West was slated to rise, featuring a mixed-use tower that would keep the views of the Common Threads mural that graces the Mural Lofts apartments next door. Those plans remained nothing more than a pipe dream, with whisperings of a potential museum/cultural center quietly fading away before we were teased by a false start. As we pondered the site’s history, we couldn’t help noticing a tagged-up sign, leading us to the marketing page for Broad + Spring Garden. And here’s where things get a bit spicier. Let’s check out the site today and the old plans below.

A look at the corner today, with the Mural Lofts on the right
A look at the old Mural West proposal, with designs from AOS Architects
A rendering of the old plans for the corner

While these previously approved plans for a 290-unit tower have expired from a permitting perspective, fear not! That marketing website on the sign pointed us to some helpful – and exciting – new information about the sale of the property. First, we have renderings! While only conceptual in nature, this design from JDAVIS Architects shows the art of the possible, with several shiny visuals to entice and inspire a potential buyer. The design is similar in scale to the past plans, with this round sticking to a one-tower approach that still highlights the mural. A glass-ceilinged, supported cantilever dramatically reflects the public artwork, stealing a cue from Bridge on Race. Though this has almost no chance of actually rising exactly as is, we applaud the sales team for thinking big and bold for this major intersection. Now, let’s check out those fun renderings, and an informational video to boot.

Similar to what we've seen in the past, with a sight line to the mural
A look at the full height of the tower from the same angle
Looking SW towards Center City, this tower would dominate the landscape

After an initial June 1st request for offers, the deadline was extended to June 8th. When we clicked on the link for more information, the message that popped up confirmed that the sales period has indeed closed. From that, we assume that there has been an acceptable bid on the property, which could sell for $20M+ based on comparable sales in the area. We hope that something similar in scale to what’s shown here rises on the lot, as this CMX-4 zoned property has oodles and oodles of potential.

And that potential is even greater today than since we last checked in here, as the apartment project at 545 N, Broad St. is now complete just steps to the north. After last checking on progress last year, we are excited to see this building from CANNO Design complete. While looking a bit more yellow and less true-white than the renderings, this mixed-use project called Mily on Green is being managed by Common Living, offering a total of 108 two- and three-bedroom units. This is a fairly surprising composition, compared to the typical one-bedroom units that dominate much of multi-family construction these days. Excitingly, signs in the window also let us know that a retail tenant should grace the ground floor soon.

Looking at Mily on Green just to the north
Rendering's massing is identical, but the colors are a touch different
A closer look at the yellowish brick and silverish, corrugated paneling
A quick look at the open interior amenity spaces

While the starting point of North Philadelphia remains as contentious as ever, it is impossible to deny the changing face of this pocket of the city. Growing increasingly dense and residential by the day, what was once the gateway to North Philly now feels closer to an extension of Center City than ever before, or at least during any of our lifetimes. And we’re here for it, as these transit-accessible areas should be filled with people and businesses instead of places for cars (despite the area’s past).