Changes Brewing on American Street

 

Ortlieb’s bottling house | Photo: Peter Woodall

After a long slumber, there’s been a flurry of activity recently at the old Ortlieb’s brewery complex in Northern Liberties. The Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association heard plans December 19th from veteran Philadelphia developer William Vessal to convert the former bottling house at 823 N. American Street into 31 residential rental units with 44 underground parking spaces.

Finding a permanent use for the building has been a long time coming considering the hot NoLibs housing market, which has continued to simmer through the economic downturn. The building has had quite a varied career since Schmidt’s purchased Ortlieb’s in 1981 and closed the plant. Initially, it was the site of Poor Henry’s Brewpub, which also hosted Golden Gloves boxing matches in its second floor hall. Later, it was used for baseball practices, hosted the Fringe Festival Cabaret, and currently houses the Jewish Center of Northern Liberties.

Larry Freedman, head of the NLNA’s zoning committee said the committee had concerns over the the location of the entrance of the parking ramp and a few other details, but is generally supportive of the project.

Vessal said he plans to keep the buildng’s distinctive stainless steel lettering. “It’s a beautiful facade and a pretty property,” he said. Vessal said he is considering applying for designation on the National Register of Historic Places, which would make the project eligible for a 20 percent investment tax credit for rehabbing the structure. “We’ll see if it’s worth it,” said Vessal. “The cost of replacing the windows might be prohibitive.”

Photo: Peter Woodall

Meanwhile, workers were busy boarding up the windows of the older part of the Ortlieb’s complex located across from the bottling plant, on the west side of American Street. The property is owned by Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments, which submitted plans to rehab the buildings to the NLNA in 2007, but has not pursued that project. Tower hasn’t submitted any new plans for the property to the NLNA, said Freedman, which means they are probably just sealing the building. The buildings have been what’s called VOV–vacant, open and vandalized–for more than a decade. Calls and emails to Tower Investments were not returned.

Notes: Vessal has been busy on the 800 block of American Street over the past two years. He built more than a dozen condos adjacent to the bottling house at the former site of the Lawrence Ritter poultry plant, and in addition to the bottling house conversion, is planning to build nine single-family homes on the west side of American that will run 3,200 square feet and feature two car garages.

 

 

 

Peter Woodall is the co-editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, and a former newspaper reporter with the Biloxi Sun Herald and the Sacramento Bee. He worked as a producer for Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane and wrote a column about neighborhood bars for PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.



6 Comments


  1. Do we really need more condo’s, apts, houses in Northern Liberties? Everywhere, I turn there is something else going up. How about someplace for the kids to place, not the dogs. How about and old fashion sit down ice cream store/restaurant? Think about it. Do you really think all these bldgs in 15, 20 years are all going to have people living in them. Anymore it seems like what can we do for the adults. How about what will fit right into the community for the families and the adults.

    • cranky aren’t we? there’s plenty of places for kids to play, how about Liberty Lands park or the other various playgrounds in the immediate area. An old fashioned ice cream store? go ahead and open one, or go to Franklin Fountain in Olde City, just a few blocks away.

      why wouldn’t people be living here in 15-20 years? are you assuming armageddon is really coming this year?

      people aren’t building just to build, they’re pretty sure they can sell/rent the properties – but feel free to buy some land and make a park.

    • You mean like rita’s or the zillons of restaurants in your neighborhood?

      You’re right, this large former factory space on a backstreet would be better suited as a 60,000 sqft malted shop with roof top PlayPlace. You should apply to work at the Planning Commission!

  2. Maybe Barbara wants a suburban style diner in that lot.

  3. I have an Ortliebs beer tray that has got to be 50+ years old I use everyday. Can’t wait to tell it the good news

  4. I’m not sure how an ice cream shop takes up a whole brewery, and tearing down a building with such distinctive 1948 lettering and character seems a real waste. I agree with the proposed use, housing, and think that as long as the owner believes he can rent or sell the units, let him try. It’s certainly better than VOV!

Trackbacks

  1. Former bottling house at 823 N. American Street
  2. Development Roundup: Dilworth House demo, Ridge Flats aims for net-zero, Ortlieb Bottling House conversion, Chelten Plaza funding
Recent Posts
Social Entrepreneurs Wake Up Lower Walnut Street With Social Design Cafe

Social Entrepreneurs Wake Up Lower Walnut Street With Social Design Cafe

May 27, 2015  |  Walk the Walk

FRIEDA for generations, a socially-minded startup company, is carving out a home inside the long vacant Maryland Casualty Company office at Walnut Place in Society Hill. Joseph Brin profiles the organization's forthcoming cafe that aims to combine coffee talk, intergenerational networking, and local design > more

Mutually Beneficial Rivalry Coming To East Market Street

Mutually Beneficial Rivalry Coming To East Market Street

May 27, 2015  |  Morning Blend

The Gallery and East Market as more than the sum of their competing parts, the history of Ridge Ave, undercounting the transit constituency, and tracking a half-century of intra-Commonwealth migration > more

The Lost Backstreet Of The Bellevue Court Building

The Lost Backstreet Of The Bellevue Court Building

May 26, 2015  |  The Shadow Knows

The Bellevue Court Building on Walnut Street takes its namesake from a street that was erased in the 1990s by the construction of the Tiffany's & Co. jewelry store. The Shadow takes a walk down the forgotten thoroughfare with the building's beginnings and background > more

Making A Case For Please Touch Museum

Making A Case For Please Touch Museum

May 26, 2015  |  Morning Blend

The larger funding imperative for the Please Touch Museum, a community input meeting for the Ridge Avenue Pocket Park, and Vietnam Memorial rededicated at Penn’s Landing > more

Then And Now: North Broad And Lehigh

Then And Now: North Broad And Lehigh

May 22, 2015  |  Then & Now, Vantage

The square block at North Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue has been a bit worse for wear for decades. Though, with recent, high-stakes investment North of City Hall, that may soon change, returning the area to its former glory when the Philadelphia Phillies claimed the block for their first home stadium, Baker Bowl. Jennifer Rogers brings it all back with her series, Then and Now > more

Indego Goes Well

Indego Goes Well

May 22, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Indego’s first month by the numbers, spot zoning fears in Andorra, finding your way through East Passyunk, and vacant land in Fishtown being developed > more