As Northern Liberties has continued to gentrify, new construction has pushed farther and farther west, into the East Poplar neighborhood. This new construction has certainly changed the character of this part of town, where we see privately owned lower income housing that’s been there for decades sitting alongside newer residential buildings, with a sprinkling of Eastern European churches mixed in for good measure. One day we’ll order some pierogis from the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, we swear.
The commercial strip on Fairmount Avenue between N. Marshall and 7th Street provides a fairly apt illustration of the changes to the area. A pizza place and a convenience store have both been around for a very long time, but a day care and the Federal Donuts location are both relatively new additions to the mix. Meanwhile, the commercial building at 700 N. Marshall St. has seemingly been sitting vacant and has definitely looked awful for at least a decade, with a Fairmount Laundromat sign slowly fading over the years.
You can guess where this is going. The commercial building is now gone, having been bought by developers for $2.2M back in 2018. Given that purchase price, we would have expected some height and some density, but the developers are merely pursuing a three-story mixed-use building at the site, with plans for two commercial spaces and 7 apartments. Please note, this plan is completely by right. While we would have liked to see a little more density here, we are at least pleased to at least swap no residential uses for some residential uses. And we’re also glad that the new project will maintain the historic commercial uses at this property, even going so far as to offer two retail spaces, like the former building.
As for what businesses will ultimately open in these spaces, we couldn’t tell you. At this point, it’s probably safe to assume that it won’t be a donut shop or a pizza place, but anything else is within the realm of possibility. Given the mixed-income nature of this area, we’re just hoping that whatever businesses eventually come to this location are able to appeal to old and new residents alike. Forgive us if we don’t hold our breath that this will indeed be the case.