New York developer wins Budd site at auction

A 26-acre slice of the hulking Budd Co. auto assembly in Nicetown has sat unused since 2003. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A 26-acre slice of the hulking Budd Co. auto assembly in Nicetown has sat unused since 2003. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This story originally appeared on PlanPhilly.

A New York developer with a history of transforming former industrial properties made the winning offer on the massive former Budd Company site in North Philadelphia.

Plymouth Group partner Joshua Goldman confirmed the company’s auction victory in a phone interview last week. He did not disclose the value of Plymouth’s bid as a final settlement on the property is not expected to occur until the end of January.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Although the former rail and aeronautics manufacturing site is distant from Philadelphia’s booming core, Goldman said his company was attracted to the city’s growing population of youthful “creatives.”

“We don’t have any other projects in Philadelphia. But what we’ve seen – and from coming down there – we’ve been really impressed with the city, the energy, the vibe and business culture,” he said. “We think there’s a lot of growth potential, and we think we can be a part of that.”

Goldman said it was “premature” to discuss any specific development plans, but he described his company as “adaptive reuse people.” He hinted at a potential interest in repurposing the collection of massive factory buildings as affordable loft and studio space.

“Developers are always building luxury. There are some people who want to pay top dollar, but there are also people who want space and don’t want to pay through the nose on rent,” Goldman said. “We think there’s a lot of opportunity to create spaces for people to create things.”

The Plymouth Group’s most recent projects include a mixed-used multi-story retail complex and a strip mall, both in the Bronx.

The Budd property has a deep history in the city’s working-class Nicetown neighborhood, once employing thousands of union workers. The plant met the same fate as numerous other industrial tenants, fully shuttering in the early 2000s.

The Budd site, encompassing 1.8 million square feet of derelict factory space, has largely sat unused since operations came to a halt in 2003. The property was eyed for a scuttled Trump casino project, but was later sold to a suburban speculator.

The 26-acre Budd has drawn graffiti artists. (Kimberly Paynter/ WHYY)

It was pushed to auction over unpaid tax and utilities in October.

Several other formerly industrial properties nearby have been redeveloped in recent years, typically for use as strip malls and storage facilities, effectively replacing factory jobs with low-wage retail business.

Goldman said he expected to meet with community members and government officials in the coming year to fuel a conversation about prospects for the site.

“We don’t want people to think some NYC speculative group is coming in here,” he said. “We want to be the good guys.”

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