The Milk Depot is a thirteen-unit, adaptive reuse project at the former Harbison’s Dairy complex in Lower Kensington. Totaling 25,000 square feet, The Milk Depot structure is comprised of two existing buildings, with a common gated entry and landscaped courtyard. The project is being developed in two phases. Phase 1 consists of four tenant-occupied units; nine additional units, Phase 2, were completed in 2011. The units at the Milk Depot highlight the industrial character of the building with open floor plans, exposed brick walls, high ceilings, wood trusses, and large windows with abundant natural light. Spaces have views of the Center City skyline and Ben Franklin Bridge. Duplex units feature custom steel stairs. The Milk Depot is located within a five-minute walk from the Berks Street station of the Market Frankford El. The impact of the Milk Depot is already being felt by the community, which has noticed the revitalization of the building complex, as well as the addition of commercial and residential tenants creating a sense of activity and energy in the Milk Depot area.
From its inception, The Milk Depot project has focused on energy conservation, utilizing existing materials, maximizing energy efficiency, recycling. The vision for green technologies include the installation of a green roof (proposed), high efficiency heating and cooling systems and wherever possible restoring and reusing existing materials in construction. The complete Milk Depot renovation of this abandoned building shell will contribute to and support the planned development scheme of the neighborhood CDC. As a fulfilled concentrated housing site, Milk Depot occupants will enhance the areas social and cultural fabric. The Milk Depot with its long history will once again be a hub and a well known presence in this transformational neighborhood. Rethinking the industrial space, the layout of the units incorporates much of the buildings history and remaining physical elements. Built during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as Harbisons Dairy, the Milk Depot building was expanded until it encompassed the entire block between Amber and Coral Streets. 2042-46 Amber Street was sub-divided from the rest of the complex in 1950 and last used as a storage facility before being abandoned in 1993. By 2003, Amber Street had become a forgotten shell with extensive structural damage and waterlogged mountains of debris. The dairy buildings are attributed to the architectural rm of Stearns and Castor who were responsible for many industrial buildings and churches in North Philadelphia as well as a number of theaters in Center City. The Harbisons Dairy complex, with its milk bottle-shaped steel water tower is a landmark in Lower Kensington. The milk bottle, visible from Interstate 95, towers 100 above street level. The milk depot at 2046 Amber Street is the oldest portion of the complex and is located at the south-eastern edge of the complex adjacent to the milk bottle. The name Milk Depot comes from the caption in the 1898 photo.
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