Van Leeuwen Ice Cream's Fishtown store opening in new development The Skylar – Philadelphia Business Journal – Philadelphia Business Journal

Brooklyn, New York-based Van Leeuwen Ice Cream will open its Fishtown outpost at 1601 Frankford Ave. as part of a new mixed-use development called The Skylar. 
The property, being developed by Stamm Development Group and JSC Real Estate LLC, will include three luxury condominiums above the retail space, said MSC Retail Partner and Managing Director Jacob Cooper, who is representing the commercial space. 
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream has leased 635 square feet on the ground floor of the forthcoming property, while a second retail space spanning 1,148 square feet is still available, according to property plans. The latter includes a 665-square-foot outdoor seating area and a 1,000-square-foot full commercial storage basement. 
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream made its debut in the Philadelphia market in August with the launch of a 1,300-square-foot shop in Midtown Village at 119 S. 13th St., the site of a former Capogiro gelato store. The company is also building out a 200-square-foot outpost in Rittenhouse Square at 115 S. 18th St.
Its targeting a summer launch of the Fishtown store, and the Rittenhouse Square shop is anticipated to open earlier, said Founder Ben Van Leeuwen. The Fishtown location will employ between 10 and 15 people while the smaller Center City outpost will employ up to a dozen.
The Skylar’s moniker comes with a very Fishtown origin story. For years, a poster of actor Matt Damon hung in the window of the former 1601 Frankford Ave. building, gaining a reputation over the years as a sort of “Fishtown relic,” Cooper said. The Skylar nods to the fictional character named Skylar in the movie “Good Will Hunting,” which Damon starred in. 
The new Frankford Avenue development will span 5,910 square feet and is targeting a spring 2022 completion date, according to Stamm Development Group’s website. 
Philadelphia-based Ambit Architecture is working on The Skylar, according to city zoning permits. Roof decks are included in the building design. 
Many hospitality concepts are flocking to the Frankford Avenue corridor including fellow ice cream shop Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at 1322 Frankford Ave.; an upcoming Bagels & Co. outpost at 1317 Frankford Ave.; and Burgers and Seltzers, the inaugural restaurant concept from Philadelphia hard seltzer company Two Robbers that is headed to 1221 Frankford Ave. 
There’s clear “enthusiasm and momentum” for the lower portion of Frankford Avenue among hospitality and retail companies, Cooper said. That interest builds on the continued success seen in neighboring Northern Liberties throughout the pandemic, he added, noting that people working remotely from home during Covid-19 has “rekindled” interest in those lower northeastern neighborhoods. 
Fishtown, in particular, has caught the attention of high-quality food and beverage operators and boutique retail companies, Cooper added. 
“They look at Fishtown as similar to emerging markets like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where there’s an eclectic mix of retail, hospitality and historic buildings,” he said. “I think all of that is converging to something really exciting.”
Van Leeuwen said that Fishtown specifically reminds him of the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, where Van Leeuwen Ice Cream was born in 2007. Initial batches were made in his apartment out of a $30 Cuisinart ice cream maker and sold out of an ice cream truck that was reconverted from an old post office truck found for $2,500 on eBay, he noted.
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, which specializes in using quality-sourced ingredients like Oregon strawberries and Italian pistachios, was also attracted to Fishtown because of its bustling restaurant and bar scene, Van Leeuwen said.
“Ice cream is not a utility, it’s not functional, it’s just generally going to be consumed by people who are relaxing and having fun,” he added. “Where there’s lots of restaurants and street life we usually do well and we saw that in Fishtown.”
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