Fishtown’s Front Street Undergoes Unprecedented Development Boom Along Market-Frankford Line

Fishtown's Front Street Undergoes Unprecedented Development Boom Along Market-Frankford Line

A surge in construction and investment is transforming Fishtown’s Front Street, with hundreds of new apartments being built along the Market-Frankford Line.

Front Street in Fishtown, Philadelphia, is currently undergoing a remarkable transformation. The area, located along the Market-Frankford elevated train line, is experiencing a building boom, with construction sites proliferating and the number of apartments set to double in the coming year. This surge in development is taking place despite lower ridership on the transit line due to the pandemic. Private investors are showing confidence in the neighborhood’s future, leading to unprecedented investment in transit infrastructure and residential properties.

Unprecedented Construction Activity on Front Street

Walking along Front Street, pedestrians must navigate around construction sites that spill onto the sidewalks. According to the CoStar Group, a commercial real estate analytics firm, there are currently 441 apartment units under construction along a 1.1-mile stretch of the Market-Frankford Line, with an additional 174 proposed and 231 completed since 2019. This surge in construction is reshaping the neighborhood and attracting private investment.

New Apartments in Revitalized Historic Buildings

Alongside new construction, developers are repurposing older buildings along the train line. One notable example is the building that housed Mighty Mick’s boxing gym in the Rocky movies. Once renovations are complete, the building will feature four apartments and a commercial space of 2,600 square feet. This trend of revitalizing historic structures adds character to the neighborhood and provides a mix of residential and commercial spaces.

Lower Ridership on Market-Frankford Line

Despite the construction boom, SEPTA ridership on the Market-Frankford Line remains significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels. In November, ridership was only at 58% of February 2020 levels. However, the lower ridership has not deterred private investors from pouring money into the area. Experts believe that the interest from private developers bodes well for the future of the neighborhood.

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Fishtown’s Transformation Since the Great Recession

Fishtown has undergone a remarkable transformation since the Great Recession. Once a run-down neighborhood with shuttered storefronts, it has now become one of Philadelphia’s most vibrant areas. The commercial corridors on Frankford Avenue and Front Street are thriving, with numerous restaurants, bars, and amenities. Census data shows that the Northern Liberties and Fishtown area now has the highest median income in the city. The success of Frankford Avenue has spurred developers to focus their attention on Front Street.

Challenges and Opportunities Along the Market-Frankford Line

Developing along the Market-Frankford Line presents unique challenges due to noise and limited natural light caused by passing trains. However, the area’s zoning allows for taller and denser buildings, making it an attractive location for developers. Architects and designers are finding innovative solutions to address these challenges, such as incorporating special glazing to reduce noise. Developers hope that the increased housing density will create demand for a second retail corridor and attract more tenants.

The Role of Transit in Fishtown’s Development

While transit ridership has declined during the pandemic, developers argue that the Market-Frankford Line still offers unparalleled access to Center City and University City. Although remote work has reduced the need for daily commuting, the convenience of public transportation remains a significant factor for those who still need to travel to the office a few days a week. Developers believe that as more residents move to the northern part of Front Street, ridership will increase.

Conclusion:

Fishtown’s Front Street is currently undergoing an unprecedented development boom along the Market-Frankford Line. Despite lower transit ridership, private investors are showing confidence in the neighborhood’s future by investing in residential properties and transit infrastructure. The surge in construction and the revitalization of historic buildings are transforming the area, attracting new residents and businesses. While the post-pandemic landscape may bring changes to commuting patterns, the Market-Frankford Line continues to offer convenient access to Philadelphia’s key areas, making it an appealing location for both developers and residents.

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