About a month ago, city officials and developer Eric Blumenfeld broke ground for the first of a series of more than half a dozen upscale, market rate residential developments that will start to be built in central lower North Philadelphia in the next year and a half. This development, which actually started last fall, is called 600 North Broad Street and is located at the intersection of North Broad and Green Streets at the site of the former Wilkie Buick car dealership. The project is being developed by Eric Blumenfeld, owner of EB Realty Management which renovated the Mulford Building next door into Lofts 640 a few years ago, and PMC Property Group, and will be a mix of residential and fancy restaurants.
One part of the project, which has been underway for months, will renovate the Biberman Building on 15th Street into 97 market rate apartments. This building was an industrial building and then a garage for the car dealership until it moved a few years ago. The restaurants will be on the Broad Street side where the car showroom used to be. There will be three restaurants, by well-known restauranteurs Stephen Starr, Marc Vetri (who owns Osteria next door at Lofts 640), and a banquet hall by Joe Volpe, who runs the Cescaphe Ballroom in Northern Liberties. These restaurants will clearly be a change for North Broad which, except for Osteria, did not have this caliber of upscale restaurants in modern times. The project will cost a total of $43 million to build and will create about 250 permanent jobs.
The development will, also, make North Broad seem much more upscale and the high-profile restaurants will bring attention to North Broad. As I said, this is only the beginning for the area. The former State Office Building, a couple blocks down at Broad and Spring Garden Streets, is to start being renovated soon by Bart Blatstein into a large housing and retail complex, the former Divine Lorraine Hotel, a couple blocks north, is to be renovated into housing with new apartment construction on the empty lots behind it, two factory buildings east of Broad are about to be renovated into apartments, and in Francisville, the Vineyards at 16th Street is about to break ground this month and a large residential development at 19th & Wylie Streets will break ground later this year. These projects will have a huge impact on lower North Philadelphia, making the central area feel like Northern Liberties or Fairmount. It is, also, a sign that the progress of this area, that started before the recession, is finally picking up where it left off when the recession began.
You can look at pictures of the site and the project’s construction, that I recently took, below and read an article on the project from the city website here.