The Gretz Brewery has stood at the corner of Germantown Ave. and W. Oxford St. in Kensington for more than 130 years. Five percent of Philadelphia’s beer was produced in this building by the middle of the twentieth century. In 1961, the brewery was sold and the building has sat vacant ever since. The structure was neglected and became blighted over decades of disuse. About 6 years ago, the corner of the complex was demolished by the city as it was deemed in danger of collapsing.
The area around the brewery has been booming over the last several years as Gretz has continued to sit dormant. Hundreds of units are coming to market in this neighborhood. We recently told you about a 120-unit project rising just south of here and a 40 micro unit project a half block north (as an aside, construction is picking up pace at the micro unit site). There are a ton of other projects that have recently wrapped up or are under construction nearby as well. We just have not had a chance to cover all of them yet.
As the neighborhood has continued to dramatically transform, we have been hoping for a preservation-minded developer to take on the Gretz Brewery. Late last year, we caught wind that something might finally be brewing. Then, the owners went before the Civic Design Review (CDR) in January of 2019 with a plan for a 213-unit project with 5 commercial spaces and 2 office spaces. 42 car parking spots and 82 bicycle spaces were also included in the plan. The existing original buildings were to be saved and several modern additions would be added, with some sections rising to 5 and 7-stories tall.
Although the brewery sits on a gigantic 30,931 square foot Industrial Residential Mixed-Use (IRMX) parcel, the developers were not able to pursue their project by-right. They went before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) in April in pursuit of a 220-unit mixed-use plan with 48 car parking spots and 82 bicycle spaces. Their application was provisionally granted with some changes required.
Just last week, we learned more details about those required changes when permits were issued for a 200 residential unit project with commercial spaces, a 48-car parking garage, and 82 bicycle spaces.
There has not been much action at the site yet, but we hope to see construction begin soon. We think this will be another huge step forward in the transformation of the neighborhood. We are extremely happy that such an amazing building will be saved and reused. The project is just over a half-mile walk to the Girard El Station and is served by multiple bus routes, so we predict a lot of the occupants will not own a car. Residents will also be a short bike ride to Center City. We look forward to seeing what kind of businesses and retail establishments occupy the building.
How do you feel about this project? Do you like the design depicted in the renderings. What types of businesses do you want to see open here?
Kyle is a commercial real estate agent at Rittenhouse Realty Advisors, a homeowner, and a real estate investor in Philadelphia. Kyle uses his extensive Philadelphia real estate market knowledge to help his clients buy and sell multifamily investment properties, development opportunities, and industrial sites.
Email Kyle@RittenhouseRealty.com if you are looking to buy or sell a property