Viking Mill, a former Kensington factory turned artist studio, has sold for $9.6 million and is set to become a 178-unit mixed-use development, causing confusion and resistance from current tenants who must move out by the end of the month. I’m here.
The 70,000-square-foot building on 2019-53 E Boston Street has provided studio space to painters, welders, and jewelry makers for nearly 15 years. Urban Axis, which opened in 2016, Scheduled to close in November due to redevelopmentaccording to the Philadelphia Business Journal.
According to Scope Commercial Real Estate Services LLC, the five-story building, which features a colorful mosaic of angels adorning its façade, will be transformed into luxury units. The company facilitated a sale between its former owner, Viking Mill Associates LLC, and an affiliate of Delaware-based Chatham Bay. His Philadelphia-based architecture firm Designblendz worked with the developer to reimagine the site.
The building will have between 9,000 and 11,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, with amenities such as pools, hot tubs, fire pits and rooftop terraces with outdoor grills, according to Chatham Bay. According to the scope, the timber and masonry structure of the building will be preserved, and the building next door will be built semi-permanently at the height of the Viking Mill.
The project is expected to be completed by 2024 and work will begin by the end of this year. According to Scope, the construction comes as housing demand continues to grow in Fishtown and Kensington. The company said he recently sold more than 250 multi-family homes in those areas, and he has 450 listed and under contract.
“The Viking Mill project will be an important addition to our rapidly developing Fishtown/Kensington neighborhood,” said Craig Thom, Senior Associate at Scope.
Still, the area’s rapid development, the haphazard manner in which the building’s sale was announced, and the rapid timeline for construction have drawn criticism from more than 40 current tenants. First reported by Billy Penn.
Residents say they received a letter in early September saying they had 30 days to move out or were to move out. The water supply to the building was cut off shortly thereafter, but was restored on Thursday.
An online petition initiated by current tenant Jen Brown describes Viking Mill as one of the few remaining artist studios in the Fishtown and East Kensington neighborhoods.
Brown, who has found a new space but doesn’t know how to move out in time, said some tenants are seeking legal assistance for 90-day eviction notices. The group also works with activists and politicians to demand Citywide protection for artists who have made areas such as Fishtown and Kensington culturally relevant. Brown argued that if the city didn’t do more, not only would artists continue to be displaced, but the communities they helped transform would also suffer.
“There is less and less of artistic interest in this neighborhood and it kills me. It breaks my heart every day to see it,” Brown said.
Chatham Bay Group CEO Patrick Duffy said in an email that the company has contractual obligations with lenders and several contractors. Extending a tenant’s move-out date isn’t a decision they can make unilaterally, “but if we can give people more time than we do,” Duffy wrote.