The redevelopment of Northern Liberties over the past 20 years is a hallmark of Philadelphia’s revival and a beacon for high-quality, unabashedly urban development. Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments played a major role in this sea change – along with Onion Flats, which conjured a modern kind of rowhouse that honors our historic inventory and improves on it, as well as countless others who saw promise in the neighborhood’s small streets and mix of rowhouses, brownstones, industrial relics, and eclectic churches and schools.

Tower, which produced Northern Liberties’ mixed-use Piazza at Schmidt’s and other high-quality projects after years of developing strip centers, created a center of gravity for investment, as well as hope that big things could happen in the neighborhood. They did what most large-scale, big-talking Philadelphia developers don’t: deliver. Regardless of your feelings about its aesthetics or the changed neighborhood, Tower’s work in Northern Liberties must be admired for the way it embraced the city, offered retail relief and sidewalk activity, attracted a major grocery store, and invested in groundbreaking design.

Given all this, the recent news that Tower intends to demolish Northern Liberties’ Ortlieb brewery complex is regrettable. It also likely blindsided preservationists and neighbors. There was no previous indication that the Ortlieb brew house and stock house would be completely lost.

(full story at Neighborhood a delicate brew –

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