Philadelphia, PA - Northern Liberties Business Improvement District (NLBID) announces the Northern Liberties Streetscape Vision Plan development. The young business district enters its third full year of operation, preparing for major residential and commercial business growth.
The population in the popular Philadelphia neighborhood is expected to nearly double in two short years, with 4,600 new residential units and 184,655 square feet of commercial on deck or under construction. NLBID has selected award-winning architecture firm KieranTimberlake, whose own office is located in the heart of Northern Liberties, to partner with Philadelphia-based PORT Urbanism to re-envision the 2nd Street commercial corridor set a path for the next ten years of growth. The public-realm-focused plan will consider a pedestrian, bike, and vehicular circulation, as well as furnishing, greening, lighting, signage, and other considerations, including potential new spaces of community collection. Funding for the planning process is supported by a grant from the Penn Treaty Special Services District.
“There has never been a more exciting time to live, work, play and do business in Northern Liberties,” said NLBID Executive Director Kris Kennedy. “We have seen tremendous growth in both businesses and our population. Major construction is happening from the border with Old City all the way through Girard. As we enter our third year in the neighborhood, it is the right time to look at what lies ahead for the next ten years. Creating the Northern Liberties Streetscape Vision Plan picks right up where the 2004 Neighborhood Plan left off. It will reflect how the neighborhood has evolved and tap into the potential this district has with significant input from the community.”
Northern Liberties continues to be one of Philadelphia’s hottest and fastest-growing neighborhoods. Currently, there are 4,600 new residential units and 184,655 square feet of commercial on deck or under construction. It is estimated that 5,000 to 10,000 new residents would move into the neighborhood in the next two years, essentially doubling the population in Northern Liberties (Callowhill to Girard, 6th St to the river). This includes:
- 5th and Spring Garden - 382 units, 6,000 sq ft commercial
- Piazza Terminal - 861 units, 35,000 sq ft commercial
- 6th and Fairmount - 350 units, 18,000 sq ft commercial
- 418 Spring Garden - 330 units, TBD sq ft commercial
- 501 Columbus Blvd - 481 units, 37,000 sq ft commercial
- 310 Girard - 185 units, 6,400 sq ft commercial
- 342 Girard - 45 units, TBD sq ft commercial
- 700 N Delaware - 482 units, 10,000 sq ft commercial
- 918 N Delaware 452 units, 16,855 sq ft commercial
- 200 Spring Garden - 355 units, 18,000 sq ft commercial
- 412 N 2nd - 387 units, 20,400 sq ft commercial
- 417 Callowhill - 220 units, no commercial
- 814-26 N 2nd St - 52 units, 8,000 sq ft commercial
- 1102-48 N 2nd - 25 units, 9,000 sq ft
The above growth also will come to include The Piazza/Liberties Walk, which will be replacing 500 units and 150,000 sq ft commercial over the next several years.
Despite the pandemic, new businesses and the city’s most acclaimed new restaurants have continued to open in Northern Liberties at a record pace. Recent openings have included Bagels and Co., Anejo, SET NoLibs, Ken Love's BYOB, Suya Suya, Pelicana, Stickman Brews, 7 Boys Collective, Studio N Med Spa, Pancho's Cafe, and soon-to-open Figo. Leases have also been signed and secured for at least five yet-to-be-announced new businesses moving into the well-known restaurant and retail spaces.
As the neighborhood prepares for this continued and rapid growth, NLBID secured funding and began the vetting process to start the planning process to invest in the next ten years. The BID didn’t have to look far from home, as it selected a team with its roots in its own community.
“We interviewed five teams during the vetting process,” said Kennedy. “We wanted to find the right fit. We selected the KieranTimberlake/PORT team because of their reputation for bold design, deep understanding of the Delaware waterfront, and commitment to Northern Liberties. This is such a unique neighborhood, and we are delighted to work with a team being led by a firm based right here in Northern Liberties. Having a BID in the district enables us to fund this planning process and see it to execution. The plan is in part funded by a grant from the Penn Treaty Special Services District. We are so thankful for their support.”
KieranTimberlake is recognized worldwide for transforming built and natural environments through artistry, integrity, innovation, and performance. The firm has a rich local legacy, shaping Philadelphia’s public spaces in ways that ensure exceptional social, ethical, and environmental outcomes. Its master plan for the city’s waterfront—including Penn’s Landing and Pier 53—established a vibrant, resilient, and community-oriented connection to the Delaware River. The firm’s redesign of Dilworth Park creates an accessible, aesthetic, and humane transit experience at the city's symbolic heart. In addition, KieranTimberlake has enhanced the cityscape with its imaginative adaptations of historic landmarks, such as the Bulletin Building, the soon-to-be expanded Mütter Museum, and the former Ortlieb’s Bottling House, a 1948 landmark structure which the firm re-envisioned as its own 60,000 square-foot studio.
“KieranTimberlake has been a committed resident of Northern Liberties since 2015 when we converted the Ortlieb’s Bottling House into our studio space,” said KieranTimberlake, Partner Matthew Krissel. “We are deeply invested in the neighborhood and its potential to be a transformative, positive force in the greater Philadelphia region. We are looking forward to teaming with the NLBID and other stakeholders to take this dynamic district into the future.”
Krissel added, “By listening to and working directly with the NLBID and residents, we will compile a clear picture of their needs, ideas, and aspirations. This will form the basis of our vision plan, which will expand on the rich and creative history of Northern Liberties’ existing buildings, streets, and landscapes with new opportunities, creating a flexible framework for smart, sustainable, and sensitive community growth.”
For PORT, their work in the public realm is recognized for its creativity, collaborative process, and focus on the essential characteristics of a place as the foundation of envisioning any future transformation. The firm has led public realm vision plans for BIDs in rapidly changing neighborhoods in Chicago and Cleveland and urban public realm projects in Boston, Denver, and Louisville. PORT is currently leading a two-mile greenway and destination regional park space in Knoxville, TN, and Bentonville, AR, respectively, that are innovative collaborations between municipal government and private philanthropy. In Philadelphia, PORT leads the Frankford Avenue Connector project for DRWC and previously guided the Oval Plus program at Eakins Oval for the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
“The public spaces of a neighborhood—particularly the main commercial street—serve as the front door to a community,” said PORT principal Christopher Marcinkoski. “These are spaces as important to a resident’s daily activities as they are to the periodic outings of visitors. Making sure these public spaces are inviting, intuitive, and interesting—building on the given assets and characteristics of the place—is essential to health and vibrancy. Provisions of generous greening, furnishing, lighting, and wayfinding are convivial invitations to experience and participate in the public life of a neighborhood.”
A steering committee of invested residents and property owners convened to offer the design team input on the neighborhood’s assets and needs for the planning process. This was followed by a public input session on 2nd St. The first draft of findings will be presented in September for additional input and comment. The process looks to wrap up by mid-fall, with results released later in the fall or early winter. The plan will show short-term, “easy-win” projects and longer-term, larger-scale projects and a plan for funding them.