Construction continues to progress at a five-story, 38-unit mixed-use building at 1600 North Front Street in Fishtown, Kensington. The project is situated at the northwest corner of North Front Street and West Oxford Street, next to the elevated Market-Frankford Street Line, and extends through the block to Hope Street to the west. Designed by KJO Architecture, the development will feature ground-floor retail, a 12-car garage, two elevators, and a roof deck. As of today, the building’s structural frame has been completed, though its paneled black and white facade remains to be installed.
Retail will extend along the entire length of of the Front Street facade at the ground floor, making a major contribution to the rapidly growing commercial corridor. The residential lobby will face Oxford Street, and another minor residential entrance will be situated at the north end of the Front Street side.
Parking space will be relegated to the west side of the site. Although vehicular access via narrow, alley-like Hope Street may seem challenging, it is certainly not impossible, and, notably, preserves the important Front Street frontage entirely for retail space.
The tallest part of the building is situated along Front Street, and the structure recedes in size to the west, where it faces a predominantly low-rise neighborhood. A third-story setback at Oxford Street matches the cornice line of an adjacent prewar rowhouse, making for a particularly pleasant contextual gesture.
As the structural frame is already complete, we can see that the building already looks imposing when viewed from Front Street to the east yet does not overwhelm its surroundings when viewed from the west.
The project presents a definite improvement for the site, which was formerly occupied by a humdrum commercial/industrial building. Unfortunately, the new building blocks a mural on Oxford Street, titled No Borders and painted by Molly Crabapple for Mural Arts Philadelphia five years ago in 2017. However, the development more than makes up for it with its significant addition of residential stock and commercial space in a transit-adjacent location (the Girard and Berks stations on the El sit within four and three blocks to the south and to the north, respectively), near the junction of the Fishtown, Olde Kensington, and Norris Square neighborhoods. We look forward to seeing how the facade will turn out.