Reinvention has long been the name of the game in the “Loft District,” aka Callowhill, where industrial skeletons live second lives as airy condos, and one of the city’s hottest music venues materialized out of a railroad luggage transfer facility.
But that reinvention will reach a new level if the long-discussed Rail Park takes root. The plan to convert the elevated viaduct that curves through the neighborhood is slated to start construction this year and should create an explosion of housing demand.
If the park-atop-abandoned-train-trestle thing sounds familiar, maybe you’ve heard of the High Line in New York, which led a boom on Manhattan’s far west side, where the streets once had a bleak feel. Today, those streets boast bars, boutiques and art galleries, while a few stories up, locals and tourists enjoy greenery and views. Developers have rushed to keep up, converting warehouses into lofts and building new hotels and high-rises.
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Our Rail Park may not have that exact look — its advocates want something grittier, more tied to the area’s industrial history. But it will likely bring a similar transformation to the sleepy stretch north of Chinatown, which seriously lacks green space. New real estate development is already giving us a preview of the area’s future.
Townhomes won’t be enough
If the Rail Park continues full steam ahead, there will likely be more demand than rowhomes can satisfy. Cue the developers working on higher-density buildings.
Construction has started on the Mural Lofts in the former Thaddeus Stevens School, a striking brick fortress on 13th and Spring Garden. When it’s completed late this year, its 56 units will be just steps from both the viaduct and the continuing development along North Broad.
Looking to move before the boom? Goldtex Apartments opened last year on 12th at Wood. It backs up to the elevated viaduct.
Phase one of the Rail Park begins where the tracks descend to meet the sidewalk on Noble Street, just north of Callowhill Street. Residential construction is already dotting the area on quiet side streets like Buttonwood. Many of the in-transition neighborhood’s vacant lots are sprouting modern rowhomes.
A select few will even have the park quite literally at their doorstep. Five townhomes are under construction on Noble near 12th, which will give residents front-row views of the completed project.