“Convenient to Public Transportation,” the flyer for 625 N. Front St. reads. “1/2 Block to the Market-Frankford El.”
Couldn’t get much closer than that. Unless, as is the case with this building, it was once part of the Market-Frankford El.
The building, on Front Street just south of Fairmount Avenue in Northern Liberties, has 7,000 square feet of space on its main floor and basement and features huge windows and a soaring three-story-high ceiling. That large-volume space comes from its original purpose: It served as the entrance to Fairmount station on the Frankford Elevated Railway.
Built between 1915 and 1922, the Frankford El extended from the east end of the Market Street subway to Frankford in Northeast Philadelphia. Fairmount Avenue was its southernmost station, serving a fairly desolate industrial area. When Interstate 95 was built along the Delaware riverfront in the 1970s, its southern end along Front Street was relocated to the freeway’s median, with today’s Spring Garden station taking the place of Fairmount – and orphaning this building.
Leasing agent US Realty Associates touts this structure as “ideal for restaurant/retail use,” and we agree that the steel-beamed ceiling and high windows would make for a dramatic dining experience. New residential construction nearby shows the still-desolate stretch of Front Street is gaining new life as well. One small problem, though: the building has no heat, which may explain the apparent lack of interest in the structure to date.