A recent site visit by Philadelphia YIMBY has revealed that demolition has not yet begun at the site of a proposed seven-story mixed-use building at 1321 North Front Street in Fishtown, Kensington. Designed by NORR, the building will span 31,167 square feet and will contain 2,545 square feet of retail and 36 apartments. Permits list East Columbia and Memphis A. as the owner, Peroni Management Inc. as the contractor, and a construction cost of $4 million.
The building, also known under its full address of 1321-25 North Front Street, will rise on the east side of the block between West Thompson and Master streets, across from the elevated trestle of the Market-Frankford Line, situated on a through-block lot that stretches to Lee Street to the east. Notably, the building takes advantage of its location by providing a through-block pedestrian arcade between the two streets. The arcade will serve as a miniature version of Liberties Walk, a public-private promenade located in Northern Liberties to the southwest.
The promenade will consist of an open area on the west side of the side facing Front Street, and a covered arcade connecting to Lee Street to the east. Two commercial spaces will animate both Front Street and the new promenade, which, in turn, will improve pedestrian circulation in the area.
The promenade will also preserve the view of the adjacent mural to the south, painted for the Bikes N Beans shop that formerly stood at the site (we discuss the unusual business retailer in greater detail in an earlier article).
Notably, the proposed combination of a relatively tall building (the structure will rise 89 feet to the top of the parapet and 96 feet to the top of the bulkhead) with a commercially-fronted, through-block arcade, which also preserves an adjacent mural, is reminiscent of the alternate site layout YIMBY suggested a few days ago for The Frankford at 1120 Frankford Avenue, a six-story, 150-unit development proposed several blocks to the southeast. As such, the project at 1321 North Front Street serves as proof that such layout may work even on relatively small, non-centrally-located sites, and not only at marquee developments such as at the Mural West tower proposed at 523 North Broad Street in Callowhill.
We definitely look forward to the construction of this well-thought-out project, and are rather dismayed at the lack of progress observed at the site even though permits were issued in December 2020. The vacant, fenced-off, single-story commercial structure that still stands at the site is an eyesore where the only interesting feature is the graffiti-lettered mural painted at its rear facing Lee Street. While the mural will sadly be torn down, we hope that the builders maintain and reinstall the whimsical elevated bicycle sculpture that currently graces Front Street.