Renovations to the long-vacant Red Bell Brewery are underway, bringing homes, retail, and parking to the Brewerytown space.
But, according to developers, many aspects of the historic, century-old building—as well as the much more recent graffiti—will remain unchanged.
“It’s in fantastic shape,” said David Waxman, founder and managing partner of the developers MMPartners. The group purchased the space for just over $4 million early this year. Waxman said MMPartners plans to turn the 204,276-square-foot brewery into 133 rental lofts and 25,000 square feet of retail, although which businesses would inhabit that retail space is still to be determined.
Waxman revealed details on the planned development in an interview with Curbed Philly last week, saying the group aims to keep many of the original elements of the 1890s-built structure in tact.
That includes maintaining and restoring the columns, barrel-vaulted ceilings, and much of the stone, brick and concrete that’s already in the space. They’re also restoring the facade, windows, and Red Bell Brewery ghost sign
“We want to take advantage of the raw materials that are here,” Waxman said.
There’s also graffiti that’s gone up during the building’s nearly two decades of vacancy, which the developers fully intend to keep.
One particular piece that Waxman points out is of six or seven Bart Simpson heads, one of which is a mashup with Garfield. Another—an image of controversial former Philly mayor Frank Rizzo—the group had to reluctantly retire, as someone had painted a swastika over it.
The non-offensive graffiti that the group plans to keep could feature anywhere, Waxman said. It could be half in a kitchen and half in a hallway.
“It creates a level of authenticity,” He added. “Frankly it’s better than going to Ikea and buying a framed picture of Paris.”
While there will certainly be a prominent nod to the building’s history, there are also many new elements. Waxman said the apartments will feature high ceilings, full tile bathrooms, washer and dryers, and “really nice sized kitchen[s].”
Waxman calls the style of the future building, “contemporary boutique.”
There will be studios up to two-bed places, with the average apartment hitting around 650 square feet. The price will range from $1,200 to $2,500 a month.
It’s a big change for the building, which dates back to the late 1800s. Originally, it was built for the F. A. Poth & Sons Brewing Company, and later, it was owned by Abe L. Brewery. Then Red Bell Brewery took over until the early 2000s, when they went bankrupt and the space was up for a sheriff’s sale, according to Waxman. The building then remained vacant for nearly two decades. It’s now on the National Historic Register, and MMPartners were able to get historic tax credits to help with the restoration.
The history of the space is important in its new development, Waxman says. It’s one of the last brewery buildings in Brewerytown.
“It hearkens back to what makes Brewerytown, Brewerytown,” he said.
The group recently started clearing out the space, and they expect it will be done by late 2020.
- Apartments planned for long-vacant Red Bell Brewery in Brewerytown [Curbed Philly]