The Quincy Fills “The Hole in the Donut” With a Touch of Pink

Arts and Crafts Holdings topped off its eight-year drive to transform the borderland along Spring Garden Street into a happening community by giving its makers a cool place to live.

the quincy apartment profile building exterior

Q the funk: that neon sign atop the entrance to The Quincy, on Spring Garden Street at Poplar’s southern edge, signals that what’s inside will be more colorful than what you see here. / This photo by Craig Grossman, Arts & Crafts Holdings; all other photos by Jin Wu via Arts & Crafts Holdings

Spring Garden Street east of Broad has been something of a no man’s land for decades, at least since the urban-renewal era turned much of it into a sort-of suburban industrial park.

But around the dawn of the millennium, the neighborhood just to its north, Northern Liberties, took off like a rocket, and development there spread into adjacent Poplar. Meanwhile, the street itself remained a borderland, tied to neither those neighborhoods nor Old City and Chinatown to its south.

Into this void stepped Arts & Crafts Holdings, a company founded in 2015 with the goal of turning this sow’s ear of a street into a silk purse.

Over the eight years since its founding, the company has acquired 15 former industrial and warehouse buildings in the area from 3rd to 12th and Spring Garden to Callowhill streets. It then turned them into office and maker space for a new generation of creatives and businessfolk.

Now Arts & Crafts is giving this new community some more residents with its first new-from-the-ground-up project, the Quincy.

This apartment building next to the Guild House at 8th and Spring Garden is the capstone of Arts & Crafts’s vision for the area, explains general partner Craig Grossman.

“We had this idea when we landed here eight years ago that we saw this as a hole in the donut,” he says of the area between Northern Liberties, Old City, Poplar and Callowhill, which was itself becoming a neighborhood at the time. “And if we could activate, in and around the Spring Garden Street corridor, existing assets — turn-of-the-century industrial buildings that had fallen on hard times — if we could turn on the lights, bring public art, culture, things of that nature to these buildings, we could begin to knit together the secondary and tertiary neighborhoods that had begun to evolve.”

The ultimate goal, he continued, was to make this first a place where creative people would want to work, then turn it into a place where people would want to live.

Arts & Crafts’s plan has succeeded. The Quincy isn’t even the first apartment building on this end of Spring Garden Street to open its doors this year: That honor belongs to the Carson, three blocks to the east. And Grossman notes that “a who’s who of developers” has projects working in the general area.

But The Quincy stands out from its neighbors. Starting with that big pink neon Q rotating over its entrance.

That sign is an attention-grabber, and it adds a jolt of color to the gray-and-black palette of the building JKRP Architects designed. But it just hints at what’s to come on the inside. Arts & Crafts also opted to think pink when it dressed the lobby and the second-floor community room.

Now, this may strike you as queer, but Grossman sticks up for the color choice. “I think pink is the new black, or the new orange,” he says. “It’s a color that we were drawn to. It pops. And we embraced it. And you’ll see throughout the building that we’ve got pops of pink.”

the quincy apartment profile second-floor community lounge

The community lounge on the second floor

And the community room at the Quincy has a funkier, looser appearance than one finds at most other new apartment buildings. The pink wall has a found-object look, as though the designer simply put whatever they had lying around on display.

With a shuffleboard table and a sit-down arcade game table with more than 100 games — including Q*bert — the community room also has more of a rec-room vibe. It also has a demonstration kitchen for parties.

the quincy apartment profile top-floor community lounge

The community lounge on the top floor

A second lounge on the seventh floor has a more tropical look thanks to a color palette dominated by aquamarine and ceiling lights ringed with plants.

roof deck

Roof deck

The look carries over onto the roof deck outside it.

Other amenities include a fitness center, co-working facilities, a dog run and a package room with a cooler for cold storage of perishables.

model studio apartment

A model studio apartment

There’s nothing gray at all about the apartments, either. Large windows flood the rooms with light. Blackout shades allow residents to make the rooms dark when they want to sleep or watch a movie at home, however.

living area in a one-bedroom apartment

Living area in the model one=bedroom unit

In its combination of relatively restrained architecture and grab-you-by-the-lapels decoration, the Quincy echoes its famous next-door neighbor. Guild House (1964), a senior residence, was one of the buildings that put its architect, Robert Venturi, on the map with its supergraphic sign over the entrance and oversized TV antenna, since removed, on the top of the building.

So how did this apartment building get that Q over its entrance — and its name, for that matter? The answer to that question takes us back to the Civil War era.

The site was a parking lot when Arts & Crafts bought it, but in the 19th century, it was home to a building called the Handel and Haydn Hall. At the time, this area must have had a sizable German population, for the German Society of Pennsylvania clubhouse sits one block to its east. Judging from its name, it was most likely a music hall.

In doing due diligence on the site, Grossman ran across an ad for an event that took place here in 1864: a fundraiser the John Quincy Adams School held to support the United States Sanitary Commission. This group, created by the federal government in 1861, provided support and medical care for Union troops. The fundraiser was a magic show featuring a “Sig’r Blitz, the World-Renowned Ventriloquist and Magician.”

ad for Blitz show

1864 ad for the John Quincy Adams School benefit for the U.S. Sanitary Commission / Library Company of Philadelphia collection

The connection to the sixth President of the United States gave Grossman the idea for the name of this building. And the decor, from the pink Q to the Caribbean-flavored roof deck, reflects Grossman’s design sensibility. ”It’s a little more funky, a little less traditional or corporate.”

Those of a similar bent will no doubt flock to this building, which welcomed its first residents at the end of the summer.

The Quincy by the Numbers

Address: 741 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, PA 19123

Number of units: 146 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 382 to 1,025 square feet. Studio apartments contain 382 square feet of space; one-bedrooms, 496 square feet; two-bedroom corner suites, 881 square feet, and two-bedroom mid-floor units, 1,025 square feet.

Number of parking spaces: 26, with six reserved for a car-share program. Assigned parking spots cost $300 per month.

Number of bike parking spaces: Not specified, but the building does have a bike storage room. The building also has electric scooter charging facilities.

Pet policy: Pets welcome, up to two per unit. Breed restrictions apply. Contact leasing office for more information.

Rents: Studios, $1,390 to $1,650 per month; one-bedrooms, $1,590 to $1,825 per month; two-bedroom corner units, $2,620 to $2,785 per month; two-bedroom mid-floor units, $2,560 per month.

More information: Leasing office in the building; The Quincy website; 833-686-3184

Updated Nov. 4th, 11:48 a.m., to correct the name of the project architect.