For a corner that currently consists of an unremarkable warehouse that’s no longer in active use, we sure have spent a lot of time talking about the southwest corner of 2nd & Poplar over the years. In the past, the corner consisted of a handsome-but-seemingly-vacant three-story building that came down in 2014. Murals popped up on the party walls later that year, and once the self-storage facility in the remaining two-story structure closed in late 2014, we had a feeling development was imminent.

View of the site today, looking southwest from Poplar
The full site back in early 2014
Close up of the rough but handsome building that used to grace the corner of N. 2nd & Poplar
Some of the early art that sprung up after the corner building was demolished
More views of the art in the past

To quote ourselves: “Or maybe it will just sit vacant for the foreseeable future”, which is sort of what happened. From what we understand, the owner of the building has been using it as a personal storage facility for the last half dozen years. In spite of the massive amounts of development in all directions, this parcel has stubbornly remained the same, though it’s been quietly marketed from time to time. It’s not exactly the most appealing building aesthetically, though we are still fans of the rotating gallery of street art.

Close-up of the ever-evolving murals

But recent news gives us a better idea of what we can expect for this long vacant site. Catalyst City Development purchased the property for $5M and is teaming up with Southwood Properties to transform this corner. Plans call for the demolition of the existing structure, with a new mixed-use, five-story building consisting of 63 rental units and over 9,000 sqft of retail. We’ll be sure to update you with renderings if we see them prior to their planned start this summer.

In other news from the block, we’d be remiss if we didn’t provide a quick update on the adjacent property just to the south of the site. A little over a year ago, we noted that another old industrial building was being demoed at 824 N. 2nd St., and told you to expect a new building with 78 apartments over a fresh food store. We’re a little hazy on what happened since then, but it appears the developers decided to eliminate the fresh food aspect of the project and add underground parking, which triggered a zoning refusal. They brought this proposal to the community last year and didn’t get support. Then they went to the ZBA and got approval, but it appears they agreed to keep the fresh food store. So now we’re expecting a 78 unit building over a fresh food store again, but with a couple dozen parking spots in the basement. It looks like site work is ongoing, so figure this project should start moving forward in earnest in the coming months.

Lots of digging going on at 824 N. 2nd St.
On-site elevations provide a look at what's in store
Another idea of what's potentially in store

The rendering above is old, but the elevation drawing at the site looks somewhat similar, at least in terms of size and massing. Combined, these two projects will add some needed height, density, and commercial presence to the 2nd Street corridor, replacing two largely dormant former industrial sites. In many ways, these two projects are a microcosm of what we’ve seen in Northern Liberties over the last couple decades as the neighborhood has shifted from a rugged, post industrial area to a quieter, largely residential community. Thankfully, 2nd Street has maintained its commercial character, and the two new retail spaces will add to the mix on the corridor.