Blighted Orinoka Mills Textile Factory Rehabbed Into 51-Unit Rental Building

As local authorities are working on strategies to redevelop derelict or abandoned buildings throughout Philadelphia, the city’s historic neighborhoods are buzzing with adaptive reuse projects.

As local authorities are working on strategies to redevelop derelict or abandoned buildings throughout Philadelphia, the city’s historic neighborhoods are buzzing with adaptive reuse projects.

Orinoka Mills Civic House - Kensington, Philadelphia

Orinoka Mills Civic House – Kensington, Philadelphia

Kensington, located between the Lower Northeast section of Philadelphia and North Philadelphia, was once known as one of the nation’s largest centers of the textile industry. But the post-war deindustrialization left the neighborhood almost empty during the 1950s, as most of the factories shut down and thousands of workers were forced to abandon their homes and look for jobs elsewhere. In recent years some of Kensington’s blighted industrial properties have been redeveloped into apartment buildings and offices that are luring back residents and businesses.

One year after D3 Real Estate Development announced plans to reconvert a former warehouse located at 1601-23 N. Front Street into a mixed-use complex with retail, office, dining and entertainment space, a new reconversion project is ready to break ground at the intersection of Ruth and Somerset Streets. At the end of November the Philadelphia Zoning Board greenlighted a $16.2 million adaptive reuse project proposed by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC).

According to PlanPhilly.com, NKCDC wants to reconvert the dilapidated Orinoka Mills, a vacant textile factory, into a residential and commercial complex that is expected to revitalize the nearby Kensington and Somerset corner which for decades has been known as one of Philadelphia’s drug corners. Dubbed Orinoka Mills Civic House and designed by Jibe Design, the project is part of NKCDC’s North of Lehigh Neighborhood Revitalization Plan.

Located at 2753 Ruth Street, the dis-used industrial complex consists of several mid-rise brick buildings built between 1890 and 1920 by the Solomon brothers who owned the Orinoka Mills textile company. In the 1980s the industrial complex was acquired by Lantal Textiles, and in 2013 it was purchased at sheriff sale by the city on behalf of NKCDC.

When fully rehabbed, Orinoka Mills Civic House will offer 51 one- and two-bedroom units targeting primarily residents who already live in the Somerset area and who earn between 20 percent and 60 percent of Area Median Income (or between $14,000 and $33,000 per year per individual). According to PlanPhilly.com, the project will also include a coffee shop and community space for NKCDC, as well as a parking garage with spaces for 26 vehicles.

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Rendering courtesy of NKCDC