Grain is coming back to the historic granary building near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
But this time, it’s of the fermented variety.
Shawn Kelly, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, said his agency has signed a lease for a 15,000-foot wine and liquor store on the lower level of the towering cement landmark at 20th Street, north of Callowhill.
The Fine Wine & Good Spirits store, which will be among the state’s largest, is part of developer Alterra Property Group’s renovation plan for the Reading Co. Grain Elevator building that also will include 24 apartments on its upper three floors.
The state-run liquor shop at the grain tower would be “a new, unique Fine Wine & Good Spirits ‘premium collection’ store ... to better serve customers in the heart of Philadelphia,” Kelly said.
Alterra’s plan, on which work has already begun, marks the start of a new phase of use for the 94-year-old structure, which has been occupied only intermittently since the 1950s, when use ended as a grain silo serving an adjacent freight rail line.
When developer Pearl Properties bought the building and an adjacent parcel in the mid-2000s, it had spent years as the home and offices of interior architect Kenneth Parker and was in use as the offices of another architecture firm.
Pearl at one point floated plans to build 12 new floors of apartments above the 142-foot tower’s roof but abandoned that proposal amid community criticism. Instead, it built what are now known as the Granary apartments on the adjacent land.
Pearl retained the grain tower in 2013 when it sold the newly built Granary complex to Lowe Enterprises Investors of Los Angeles (which last year resold them as part of a larger property portfolio to Chicago-based LaSalle Investment Management).
Alterra bought the silo building in December for $7.6 million, according to records filed with the city. Alterra managing partner Leo Addimando said in an email that his group hopes to finish work at the building in about a year.
Alterra’s plans involve renovations to the historically protected building’s upper and lower sections, which have previously housed offices and living space, Addimando said. But its windowless midsection, which accommodates the long vertical bins once used for grain storage, will be left alone, he said.