63-Unit, Mixed-Use Building Rising in Fishtown

31 East Columbia Avenue construction
31 East Columbia Avenue Construction Site

If you take the El along Front Street through Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and Kensington today, it seems like every other property is under construction or a newly completed building. Just 7 or so years ago, this would have seemed unfathomable with a ton of blight and a void of commercial spaces along this strip. Today, everything has changed and this section of Front Street is one of the biggest hotbeds of development in Philadelphia.

Back in April of 2021, we told you about plans for a 70-unit project on the northeast corner of Front Street and East Columbia Avenue next to the Box Factory Lofts on the site of a surface parking lot and one story warehouse. The project made it through the entitlement process with some slight changes and is now well under construction.

31 e columbia parking lot
31 East Columbia Avenue – Before Construction Started
31 e columbia warehouse demolished
31 East Columbia Avenue – Demolished Warehouse
31 e columbia ave
31 East Columbia Avenue Rendering – SITIO architecture + urbanism
31 E. Columbia Avenue Rendering - Sitio Architecture + Urbanism
31 East Columbia Avenue Rendering – SITIO architecture + urbanism
31 e columbia floor plan
31 East Columbia Avenue Floor Plan

If you go by the site today, you’ll see steel framing up to the fourth story with the cinderblock elevator shaft rising higher. When complete, the project will rise 8-stories and will include 63 residential units, 9 automobile parking spots, and 30 bicycle stalls.

The project will also include around 1,100 square feet of ground floor commercial space on the corner. If it were not for the minimum parking requirements in the CMX-3 zoning code, we believe that the development team would have opted for no parking and a much larger commercial space. It makes no sense to us that the city requires parking in new development projects that are located so close to a subway station. In this case, the site is located three blocks from the Berks El Station. We think it would be better and safer for the community if there were no curb cut along Front Street and if there were a bigger commercial space here instead of storage for cars.

Overall, though, were excited to see this project getting built and for 63 new homes plus a new corner commercial space to be added along the Front Street corridor. With the 204-unit project recently breaking ground right across the street and a 55-unit project planned just to the north, this block is going to look completely different in a couple of years. We imagine that The International Bar, Evil Genius, Goldie, and LMNO will see an increase in traffic when all of these projects wrap up and we hope to see some more exciting commercial operators join the block too.

How do you feel about this project? Would you have liked to have seen a larger commercial space here rather than a 9 car garage? What kind of business would you like to see open in the storefront?

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