Taking a look inside the $400K project to refurbish Kendrick Mill

The ongoing re-do of a 1919 former mill building at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Pastorious Street isn’t the usual type of project for Ken Weinstein’s Philly Office Retail.

Like most of the former industrial sites Weinstein homes in on for commercial and residential re-use, this one near the Germantown/Mt. Airy line badly needed upgrades of items from overhead sprinkler systems to wood floors, and everything in between.

But unlike most of Weinstein’s larger sites in Germantown, the former James R. Kendrick Co. fabric mill was occupied when his company bought it in June, and has a wide range of commercial tenants on all three floors.

With nearly $400,000 in work still ongoing, the sturdy brick structure will become the Lofts @ Kendrick Mill, with spaces available for immediate rental. That’s another change from the months it can sometimes take Weinstein’s crews to get a space ready to lease.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“This really needed to be saved and improved, and it seemed like a project in line with our goals,” Weinstein said during a tour of the Kendrick building late last week.

Site history

According to the book and website Workshop of the World — Philadelphia, James A. Kendrick arrived in Philadelphia in 1874, going into the stocking business with an uncle.

Kendrick took over the business when the uncle died and when Kendrick died in 1910, his four sons took over the business, and built the factory at 6139 Germantown Ave.

The Kendrick mill turned out surgical textiles like gauze, bandages stockings and trusses, and the building expanded in 1927 as the company eventually employed up to about 70 people. In more recent years, it made elastic elbow, wrist and knee stockings.

In a practical move, the Kendrick building was constructed with its main factory entrance on the side street and rented commercial spaces along Germantown Avenue, so the tenants could support the owners during times of slow business for the Kendrick mill.

Those street-level spaces, in use now as a party-supply rental business and a dance studio, still help with that.

Looming improvements

The exterior will get new awnings, with signage and branding that hints at the building’s textile past, and the original nameplate above the main entrance on Pastorious will be preserved.

Located on a low-key block of Germantown Avenue near the Settlement Music Academy, the Kendrick building has on-street parking. Weinstein said he could potentially lease a small parking lot behind the Germantown Mennonite Trust.

Inside, Philly Office Retail’s Jaime Rodriquez and his crews are continuing work installing new windows, refinishing wood floors, upgrading bathrooms and repositioning some walls to better divide interior units.

A new HVAC system will replace the metal radiators now throughout the building, and a swipe-card security setup is on its way.

In many of the units, ceiling-mounted iron gears and other features left over from the mill’s past remain; iron-pipe railings and exposed-brick interior walls give the building an almost steampunk feel.

Two new tenants, childrens-clothing design house Llum Inc. and Rocket Learning, an educational support and tutoring company, are moving in,

The Obama campaign has leased a 3,300 square foot first-floor space for last-minute organizing space.

The building is now 74 percent occupied, but Weinstein said he’d like to round it out with a mix of artists, small businesses and local startups.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal