Kensington building of ‘Rocky’ fame set to be renovated, a rare piece of positive development
Developers are set to renovate the Kensington building home to Mighty Mick’s Gym in the ‘Rocky’ and ‘Creed’ films over the coming months, per Philly Voice. 2145 N. Front St. served us exterior shots of the famous fictitious fighting gym for years.
Of course, the interior scenes were shot in LA, but the memories remain across multiple movies. Now, after a storied run, it is destined for the same fate as many other Philadelphia projects: mixed-use zoning.
Now, I’m not here to slander the project. In fact, I rather like it in theory. Here’s a look at the proposed plans, which, honestly, look far better than most blueprints I’ve seen for other projects:
I know I complained about mixed-use zoning not two paragraphs ago, but as The Liberty Line’s resident architecture critic, I’ve been exposed to so many crappy plans for projects of that type. I also have deep familial ties to the area, so I’m hyper-critical of any development projects in and around Kensington.
So, when I heard mixed-use, I shed a tear, but when I saw these plans, I sucked that tear right back up through my eye. Keeping the original structure intact is something more developers need to do. If this wasn’t a site with some value to the city’s artistic history, I’m sure it would’ve been bulldozed.
Regardless of new construction incentives in the city, it’s clear the developers here have at least some integrity. That’s not something many others in Philly can say, especially regarding their dealings in Kensington.
How excited should Kensington residents be?
At the same time, however, I have some caveats to consider. First, while the original structure will remain, the developers also have a license to replace the exterior and redo the trimming.
I swear to god, if they replace the classic facade with that mismatched, plastic panel bullshit you see everywhere these days, I’m going to lose my mind. Just look how dogshit some of these new exteriors are:
Those buildings exist in Philadelphia right now. How depressing. But design is really only part of the problem.
My second concern with this property is the price of the residential units. High-density, affordable housing is in short supply these days. I understand that there’s only so much room in such a small building, and the original structure combined with its proximity to the El prohibit building vertically.
Still, I hope these units end up being close to the market rate. Suppose they are, and the business that takes over the commercial space is relevant and valuable to the surrounding community. In that case, it’ll be one vital step in the right direction for development in Kensington.
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