The historic Harbison’s dairy plant in Kensington is slated for conversion into apartments, offices, and other commercial uses as part of a plan that keeps the industrial complex’s landmark milk-bottle-shaped water tower in place.
Plans call for constructing three new stories of residential units atop the existing complex of buildings, nearly reaching the bottom of the water tower, which is held aloft on metal supports, according to documents posted this week to the website of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.
The proposal is scheduled to be reviewed by the commission’s architectural committee on Tuesday. According to the documents, it would repaint the water tower with Harbison’s original logo and restore the facade of the 2041-55 Coral St. plant complex, which was built in phases beginning in 1895.
The documents do not specify how many residential units the project will have or what commercial uses other than offices are to be housed at the property.
A proposal last June had called for the demolition of the center portion of the former plant to form a courtyard into which the water tower would have been lowered, the website Curbed Philly reported at the time. That plan was withdrawn from the architectural committee’s agenda before the panel could consider those plans.
The Historical Commission’s staff has recommended the approval of the proposal that’s to come before the committee this month. The plant is on the city’s Register of Historic Places, meaning it cannot be knocked down or significantly changed without the commission’s green light.
The plant’s founder, Robert Harbison, was an Irish immigrant who moved from Gwynedd Township to Kensington to open the plant at a time when people living in cities didn’t have refrigeration or dairy cows. Harbison’s delivered glass bottles twice daily across the city.