Large and Small Projects Progressing Near 8th & Poplar

We were heading from one side of town to the other recently, and some ongoing construction on 8th Street just south of Girard caught our eye. Walking down the 900 block of N. 8th St. we felt a vague sense of recollection of having written a story about the block in the past, but couldn’t quite put a finger on it. Thinking some more, we realized that we wrote about this block almost two years ago, back when 962-980 N. 8th St. was occupied by an old garage and a surface parking lot. At the time, we told you to expect 24 units here, and that’s exactly what’s happening now. Check it out:

In the past
Current view

On its face, this feels like a bit of an odd development site. After all, Girard Avenue is just a few steps away and the 700 and 800 blocks aren’t among the finest that Girard has to offer. The elevated Septa rail tracks half a block away don’t help. Also, this area is a bit of a no man’s land, not in Northern Liberties or South Kensington, but in East Poplar, a neighborhood that has seen very little development despite all the activity in every surrounding direction. But that’s changing and will continue to change in the coming years.

Less than two blocks away, at 9th & Poplar, is the former Quaker Storage building. We first brought this building to your attention back in 2015, noting that the former Strawbridge & Clothier warehouse had been sitting vacant and blighted for over a decade. While the location of the building isn’t top notch, it happens to have some great bones, and that attracted the attention of Post Brothers. In 2017, we told you about plans for Post Brothers to renovate the Quaker storage building into a mixed-use project with 350 units, with the project stretching all the way to Girard. For reasons we may never understand, the ZBA denied this variance request, but that ruling was reversed by the courts in 2018. You can see in the photo below, construction work has been ongoing over the last several months, though there’s clearly still plenty of work yet to come.

Stuff happening and Quaker storage building!

There’s even more stuff coming here- as we told you a little less than one year ago, the vacant lots just to the east of the Quaker storage building are on track for redevelopment. There’s a 112-unit building that got zoning at the end of last year in store for the northwest corner of 8th & Poplar. At the same time, a 276-unit building got approved for the larger lot next door. Here’s a rendering of the two buildings, as we shared last year:

More to come

So yeah, that 24-unit project feels a little random as we sit here in January of 2020. But just a few years from now, when all the projects on Poplar are finished and occupied, that little project will make all kinds of sense. And we have to think that this will spur additional development along Girard Avenue, perhaps connecting to some upcoming projects on the 600 block. And who knows, maybe we’ll see some other projects pop up in other parts of East Poplar, too.