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Blatstein Plans One Last Big Development For Northern Liberties

The empty lot at Second Street and Germantown Avenue in Northern Liberties, owned by Bart Blatstein, as of June 2017

Although he moved the offices for his company to Rittenhouse Square, Bart Blatstein is not quite done with Northern Liberties yet.

The Tower Investments CEO is planning one more major development in the neighborhood he has played a large role in shaping in the past two decades. He is planning a six-building, mixed-use complex at Second Street and Germantown Avenue, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Just east of Schmidt's Commons, formerly the Piazza at Schmidt's, and south of the Acme-anchored retail building called the Shops at Schmidt's — both of which Blatstein developed and later sold — is a 4.4-acre lot that Blatstein has owned for years. His plans will be familiar to those who know Schmidt's Commons and the neighboring Liberties Walk, also a Blatstein project.

The six buildings will contain around 1,200 rental apartments atop 45K SF of ground-floor retail centered around a public plaza, with a 500-space parking garage tucked within the complex. Although the neighboring Schmidt's Commons has experienced high turnover among its retail tenants and multifamily occupancy rates below the citywide average, Blatstein told the Inquirer he is unconcerned about the next project.

Blatstein sold the Commons to a joint venture of Kushner Cos. and Oaktree Management in 2013, back when it was still called the Piazza, and chalked up the complex's struggles to poor management since the sale. The Northern Liberties Neighbors Association gave its blessing to the proposal, which calls for a mixture of studios and one-bedroom apartments to be built in phases starting in March 2019.

The project still has to go before the Civic Design Review, which will likely happen before summer rolls around, but does not require any zoning variances to proceed.