15 Units + Retail to Rise Next to the El Bar in Kensington

development site next to The El Bar
The development site next to The El Bar

If you’ve been to The El Bar for a Kensington Happy Meal over the last several months, you may have noticed that the building next door was demolished.

Developers purchased the parcels at 1350-54 N. Front St., 1351-55 N. Hope St., and 106-108 Master St. (the lots behind the El Bar’s back patio area) in 2018. The properties were combined in November of 2019. Demo permits were issued in December and the building came down shortly thereafter, erasing a popular American Eagle and stars mural from the streetscape.

Project Rendering - Front St. Facade
Project Rendering – Front St. Facade

Zoning permits were issued in mid-July for the erection of a 65 foot tall building with 15 residential units over a commercial space. The building’s design is unique in that the residential floors do not have the normal amount of windows facing the front of the building in order to combat the noise of the El train. Instead, the development team left open space on the southern end of the lot and placed windows on that side of the building.

The Front St. side of the building will be muraled. The architect, Bright Common, explains on their website: “Nodding to Philadelphia’s love for murals, artist Carla Weeks takes her design to the front façade. “Using pattern as a vehicle to articulate memory,” her arrangement incorporates shapes from the surrounding Kensington arch ways and mechanical construction of the neighboring El. Geometric windows and 12ft archways puncture the façade, reinforcing Carla’s design.” This is an interesting design concept. The arches resemble windows and may fool passerby who don’t look closely at the facade.

Project Rendering
Project Rendering – southern side of the building from Front St. looking north

No construction has begun on site to date, but we’re hopeful it does soon. We’re big fans of adding density along Front St., one of few places in the neighborhood where reasonable density is allowed by zoning restrictions. We think these residential units should fill up quickly due to their prime, transit-accessible location bordering South Kensington, Fishtown, and Northern Liberties.

We’re not sure if the El Bar is serving up hotdogs during these crazy times, but their back patio has been getting some improvements and they’re doing takeout beer. Support a local establishment if you can. We look forward to the day that we can play pool again at this neighborhood staple and to seeing what kind of retail business opens up in the new space next door.

How do you feel about this project?

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