Plans to Convert Warehouse to 30 Units on West Berks St.

The Peter Woll & Sons Feather Company at 165-173 W. Berks St.

A historic, beautiful brick warehouse sits at the corner of West Berks St. and Mutter St. The building was erected in 1886 and was originally used as the headquarters for the Peter Woll & Sons Feather Company. More recently, the building has been utilized by the Globe Paper Company.

The Peter Woll & Sons building stands proud on West Berks St. The craftsmanship of its brick cornice and arched windows are rarely matched in modern construction projects. The five-story structure is the tallest on the corridor.

Over the last decade, West Berks St. has become more and more attractive to residents because of its proximity to the El and to the amenities in Fishtown. Manufacturers have steadily vacated this area as building owners have cashed out to developers. As we have told you many times in the past, this section of the neighborhood is now developing its own retail base and hundreds of residential units are coming online in the immediate vicinity.

It looks like the Peter Woll & Sons building, which sits within a Qualified Opportunity Zone, is in store for some changes after a 135 year history as a manufacturing facility. On October 16th, the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) will rule on whether it will allow the owners of the property to convert the 28,800 square foot building into 30 residential units with 30 bicycle parking spaces. The 5,760 square foot parcel is currently zoned Medium Industrial (I-2), which does not allow residential use by-right. We speculate that a sale of the building is pending, contingent on the zoning variance being granted, as city records do not indicate a recent ownership change. Of course, the party that has owned the building since 2002 could also be leading the redevelopment efforts.

We are extremely excited to see this historic building get rehabilitated and re-used. It will be great to see 30 more residential units added to the West Berks St. corridor so close to the El. The additional pedestrians and eyes on the street should help fuel the continued revitalization of this area. We would have liked to have seen a commercial component included in the project plans, but we understand that sometimes historic re-use projects are complicated and all buildings do not lend themselves well to mixed-use. We are not sure what lead the developers behind this project to pursue a residential-only project.

How do you feel about this project? Do you welcome 30+ more residents to this neighborhood? Would you liked to have seen retail space included in the plans?

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