The Philly Fringe/Live Arts Festival is a unique, avant-garde arts festival held in the city every September. Fringe festivals have become popular, in some cities, as a way to show unusual and avant-garde performances that wouldn’t normally be seen in more mainstream venues. Philadelphia’s Fringe Festival is one of the biggest and had merged with another, similar festival, the Live Arts Festival, a few years ago. Over the course of the two to three week festival, the Philly Fringe would use various venues in neighborhoods like Old City, Northern Liberties, Washington Square West, and Fishtown for performances of unique dance, theatre, and music. The Festival organizers would plan throughout the year for the popular and ever-growing festival, that was attracting tourists from far and away. The festival’s organizers never had a permanent venue to do their planning in or for events at other times of the year, so a few years ago they sought out a permanent home for year-round programming and planning.
They, eventually, decided to buy an old, unused water pumping station at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Race Street. The pumping station is a little red-brick building, which was built in 1903, almost underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge. It used to pump water to fire hydrants in much of Center City, until it was decommissioned in 2005, and it had been largely overlooked and forgotten. The organization, which recently changed its name to FringeArts, is using the renovated building as their headquarters, not just for the annual festival, but for year-round programming. To that end, they have their offices and rehearsal space in the 10,000 square foot building, but the featured space is a 240-seat theatre, with retractable seating, and gallery space for fine art shows. There is, also, a restaurant/café that will have outdoor seating on a plaza next to Race Street, which will replace a small driveway next to the building. The outdoor plaza will be used for the festival and other events, which may also be held on the Race Street Pier, a park built on an old pier, across Delaware Avenue, in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Both outdoor locations will have incredible views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, day and night. The bathrooms in the FringeArts headquarters will be available for unaffiliated events on the Race Street Pier, so the City’s Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is paying for those facilities. The new FringeArts headquarters and space will keep this part of Delaware Avenue and the waterfront busy with edgy performing and creative arts, extending the large artistic community of Old City and Northern Liberties to a once forgotten section of the Delaware waterfront.
The FringeArts headquarters and the Race Street Pier are connected back to Old City by a colorful, well-lit “connector”, under I-95 and the Market/Frankford line, known as the Race Street Connector. The Race Street Connector has a large sign pointing to the river and the city and colorful lights and a video feed on a screen on top of the overpass, from a camera facing the river, of the surface of the water. Just a couple of blocks from the FringeArts headquarters, a developer would like to build a modern apartment tower with retail, at Second and Race Streets, and several new developments are planned for Old City, such as housing along Second Street, Market Street, and a new, upscale market at Third & Arch Streets. Northern Liberties and South Kensington are experiencing new development, such as an expansion of The Piazza developments, the Soko Lofts, and Liberty Square. Along the waterfront, major residential development is planned for Delaware Avenue and Vine Street, Delaware Avenue and Callowhill Street, The Pennthouses at 700 North Delaware Avenue (under construction), an apartment building at Pier 34; just south of the Dockside Condominiums; and townhouses at Columbus Boulevard and Catharine Street. Developer Core Realty is planning a large entertainment center at Frankford and Delaware Avenues and a redevelopment of Canal Street, off of Delaware Avenue, with small and unique shops, restaurants, and cafes. Another developer is planning to build a House of Blues concert hall about a mile north of the FringeArts headquarters and the SugarHouse casino is about to expand, as well. And, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is designing a plan to redevelop Penn’s Landing with more entertainment and recreation, imbetween new residential and commercial development, and is breaking ground today on a new park on Pier 53 on Columbus Boulevard (Delaware Avenue south). So, as you can see, the new FringeArts headquarters adds a diverse and avant-garde artistic element to the rapidly developing Delaware waterfront.
If you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in the neighborhoods near the Delaware River waterfront, or any other neighborhood in the city, please contact me at Gabriel.firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my Long & Foster agent portal, here, or check out our Long & Foster Center City office, here. You can, also, view my realtor Facebook page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, and my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE. And, you can learn more about FringeArts and their new home on their website, here. Also, you can see my photos of the new FringeArts home and the waterfront and surrounding neighborhood, below.