Will Penn Treaty Village reuse more waterfront industrial buildings?

What is Michael Samschick planning for his Penn Treaty Village development? Is O Havana real? Like River Ward neighbors, our curiosity is piqued.

PlanPhilly’s Kellie Patrick Gates has been following the intrigue. She has endeavored to find out if the mysterious O Havana hotel development is for real, how that proposal is or isn’t tied to developer Michael Samschick, and what Samschick is planning for his significant holdings along Delaware Avenue at the Northern Liberties/Fishtown edge.

This week, Samschick presented his plans at a closed-door meeting with members of Fishtown Neighbors Association and Northern Liberties Neighbors Association. Samschick only shared his still-developing plans on the condition of a media blackout. He told Kellie in a brief phone interview that he is not yet ready to make his plans public and declined to discuss them further.

But let’s talk about what we do know. Samschick has been rehabbing a duo of warehouse buildings between Brown and Poplar streets on Delaware Avenue. The Waterview Grande project looks about halfway done and is precisely the kind of adaptive reuse that I hope to see more of along the waterfront.

Here are the buildings in 2006:

800 Delaware Ave before reuse, 2006
(800 Delaware Ave before reuse, 2006)

Here’s the same view of Waterview Grande in 2012:

Waterview Grande in 2012.
(Waterview Grande in 2012.)

During the last decade’s boom years, these buildings were slated for demolition to make way for four very tall towers by Hoboken Brownstone. Well of course that didn’t happen, like so many of the dead tower proposals along the waterfront. In this case the downturn resulted in a positive demonstration case in adaptive reuse for ex-industrial waterfront properties.

Another one of Samschick’s holdings is the adorable and vulnerable-looking Edward Corner building, a few blocks north of Waterview Grande at Shackamaxon Street. The Corner building is one of very few properties along Philadelphia’s historic working waterfront that speaks to the kind of businesses that made up this landscape.

The Edward Corner building at Delaware and Shackamaxon formerly housed a marine supply company.
The Edward Corner building at Delaware and Shackamaxon formerly housed a marine supply company.

Demolition permits were approved (and expired) for the Corner building a few years back. Whatever else Samschick is planning, I sincerely hope he makes good on his ideas for repurposing this charming building and keeping its distinctive painted signage. Because while the Edward Corner building was thoroughly typical in its day, today it’s a rare survivor. Let’s hope it’s around for many more years to come.

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