Vacant lots could become housing

Two large va­cant lots on Front Street near Tiptop Play­ground were put up on the mar­ket by the city last month, and over 80 de­velopers have already looked in­to the pro­ject, ac­cord­ing to Phil­adelphia In­dus­tri­al De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion (PIDC) real es­tate man­ager Liz Gabor.

“I think there’s a lot of in­terest,” Gabor said about the lots at 1049-69 N. Front St. and 1101-19 N. Front St., both situ­ated between North­ern Liber­ties and Fishtown. These sites were formerly oc­cu­pied by a Kens­ing­ton Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany cot­ton waste fact­ory and the Best Kid Com­pany Leath­er Works, a tan­nery. The city took own­er­ship of these lots in 1974.

Gabor said that there have been some in­ter­na­tion­al de­velopers down­load­ing the re­quest for pro­pos­als (RFP), as well as some loc­al de­velopers, but that no in­form­a­tion about spe­cif­ic pro­pos­als will be re­leased un­til after the Feb. 8, 2013 dead­line.

“Res­id­en­tial mixed-use would be an ob­vi­ous good use for that land,” said North­ern Liber­ties As­so­ci­ation (NLNA) Zon­ing Com­mit­tee Chair­man Larry Freed­man said of the lots. “I think res­id­en­tial with a nice com­mer­cial first floor would be great.”

“Nobody’s go­ing to want to see a night club,” he ad­ded.

The PIDC’s RFP touts the bur­geon­ing young pop­u­la­tion in Fishtown and North­ern Liber­ties as evid­ence that the neigh­bor­hood is on the up and up, not­ing as evid­ence de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing the Su­per­fresh at 2nd and Gir­ard, the Piazza at Schmidt’s res­id­en­tial and re­tail com­plex, the Thin Flats LEED cer­ti­fied res­id­ences, and Frank­ford Hall Beer Garden as signs of in­creas­ing in­terest in the neigh­bor­hood.

Fishtown and North­ern Liber­ties, from 2000 to 2010, had a rate of 112 per­cent growth in the pop­u­la­tion of res­id­ents aged 20 to 29, high­er than any oth­er part of Phil­adelphia. The growth was 22 per­cent city­wide.

These lots also may be­ne­fit from their prox­im­ity to the loc­a­tion of Core Re­alty’s planned Canal St. North en­ter­tain­ment com­plex, which is slated to bring a large mu­sic ven­ue, a bar, a res­taur­ant, bowl­ing al­ley and re­tail space to Frank­ford Av­en­ue and Rich­mond Street.

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­

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