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
A Monumental Shift At Dilworth Park

A Monumental Shift At Dilworth Park

October 24, 2014  |  Vantage

Olin's design for Dilworth Park gives Philadelphia what it has long struggled for: a suitably grand approach to the monumental City Hall, says Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin. Here's his review of the park, now essentially complete > more

Kenney To Hist Commission: Put Buildings On Register, Get More Funding

Kenney To Hist Commission: Put Buildings On Register, Get More Funding

October 24, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Firm would simply recoup money through ads, Councilman Kenney wants to bolster Historical Commission, Councilman Henon undaunted by Planning Commission’s non-recommendation for Mayfair overlay, and Guinn hard at work on latest mural > more

Bill Seeks To Preempt Tragedy With Better Data For Firefighters

Bill Seeks To Preempt Tragedy With Better Data For Firefighters

October 23, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Blueprint reconnaissance for firefighter safety, improvements to the Burk Mansion, City Council considers beautification of vacant land by former convicts, and more inaction on PGW sale > more

Why The Flying Saucer Deserves Your LOVE

Why The Flying Saucer Deserves Your LOVE

October 22, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Preservation Alliance calls iconic LOVE Park building a “place to save,” zoning changes introduced for parts of North Philly, another firm for the Navy Yard, and a sinking pharmacy in South Philly > more

The Missing Namesake Of North Philly's Lost Necropolis

The Missing Namesake Of North Philly’s Lost Necropolis

October 21, 2014  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Next up in our Halloween cemetery series: Harry K hits the tomes looking for the missing obelisk of Monument Cemetery. Is it sitting in a gravestone dumping ground at the foot of the Betsy Ross Bridge? Its fate may be forever unknown > more

Of Birds And Drinking Water

Of Birds And Drinking Water

October 21, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Inside the East Park Reservoir, Temple students adopting blocks, UCD to start early on 40th Street plaza, and Jewish life gets a boost at Penn > more