The plan to erect townhomes and a mixed-use development at the site of Washington Avenue’s historic Frankford Chocolate Factory took a step forward Friday, when the Historical Commission voted to allow the demolition of the factory’s iconic smokestack.
The 8-3 vote came after a lengthy discussion, according to a member of the commission. Developer Ori Feibush, of OCF Realty, who is overseeing the project, said demolition should begin on the structure in a few weeks.
It’s the latest big news for the 150-year-old factory at 2101 Washington Avenue, which Feibush purchased in April. He plans to tear down much of the factory, and replace it with townhomes, 20,000 square feet of retail, a restaurant, and a grocery store—a project that Feibush says will help revitalize the neighborhood.
Though the building sits on the National Register of Historic Places, Feibush has said much of it is in “deplorable condition.” He intended in the spring to keep the smokestack—which has been an iconic part of the Washington Avenue landscape for 100 years—but later announced plans to demolish it.
“I see it as a symbol of Washington Avenue’s blight,” he said Friday, adding that the “smokestack” is really just a ventilation shaft, built over 50 years after the rest of the building. “If anyone is nostalgic there is another on [15th and] Washington.”
Feibush and his team still need to secure some more permits, but they plan to start demolishing the structure in a few weeks. They hope to take it down before the end of the year, when colder weather sets in, Feibush said.
Last month, OCF released initial renderings for the project, saying they plan to break ground on the townhome portion of the development this December, and and on the mixed-use portion in April.