November 3, 2022

‘We want to make a neighborhood’: Construction begins on $500M NoLibs development

By Paul Schwedelson – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

When Kristine Kennedy became the executive director of the Northern Liberties Business Improvement District about four years ago, she immediately realized the neighborhood’s challenge of being disconnected from Old City.

When National Real Estate Development bought properties along 2nd Street between Spring Garden and Callowhill streets, fixing that problem was exactly what company President Dan Killinger had in mind.

National Development and its partner in the venture, Jersey City, New Jersey-based Kushner Real Estate Group, officially broke ground Thursday for a 13-story, 360-apartment building at 200 Spring Garden St. Plans for the building also include 5,400 square feet of retail space and 10,000 square feet of public outdoor green space. It’s the first of several phases in which the developers plan to overhaul the block.

“We want to make a neighborhood,” Killinger said Thursday. “We want to make a special place where people want to live and also bring new office and hospitality uses to the neighborhood.”

Killinger said construction on the first building is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024. The company plans to add a second apartment building with 400 units at 412-426 N. 2nd. St., on the northwest corner of North 2nd and Callowhill streets, though Killinger said a timeline for the second phase has not been set. National Development and KRE Group put the estimated cost of the project at $500 million shortly after acquiring the properties last year.

The block is wedged between I-95 and I-676, dividing it from Old City to the south and east.

“In our organization we can work on things like sidewalks and lighting but really it was the redeveloping of the [area that] was going to be instrumental,” Killinger said, “and a catalyst really for making this a walkable commercial corridor and connecting our two neighborhoods.”

Apartment rents for tenants are expected to be comparable to other buildings in the area, Killinger said. The retail space at 200 Spring Garden will be anchored by City Fitness, which will occupy two floors. The Philadelphia company’s first location, which opened in 2007, was knocked down to make way for the new building, and the gym is temporarily at 460 N. 2nd St. until 200 Spring Garden is completed.

Philadelphia-based National Real Estate Development is currently nearing completion of its East Market project, a $1 billion development between 11th and 12th streets and Market and Chestnut streets. Its parent company, National Real Estate Advisors, is based in Washington, D.C.

After helping to reinvigorate the East Market neighborhood, National Development aims to do the same on the border of Northern Liberties with 200 Spring Garden.

“[We’re] creating an entirely new neighborhood that will combine the energy and vitality of Northern Liberties with the history and the culture of Old City into something that is truly Philadelphia,” Killinger said.