A reader reached out the other day, noting some ongoing demolition activity on N. 2nd Street in Northern Liberties, just south of Poplar Street. It turns out, we told you that this was on the horizon a little over a year ago, when we shared the news that 814-826 N. 2nd St. would be redeveloped. As we told you previously, this property was used as an electric supply house for a number of years, with the business occupying a portion of the property and a surface parking lot covering the rest. We also commented that this type of business surely made sense a couple decades ago, but no longer really fit in the current environment in the neighborhood.

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In the past
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In the past

Said environment, of course, is one that relates to a growing neighborhood population, with the pedestrian friendly 2nd Street commercial corridor one of the main drivers for activity in the area. With an eye toward adding to the mix in both regards, we told you that an apartment building was planned for this site, with retail on the first floor. Looking at a permit from a little after we wrote about the property, the plans call for 78 apartments and a 5,000 sqft fresh food store on the first floor. You may recall, the fresh food market provides a zoning bonus for these sorts of projects, allowing extra height and density as a matter of right. That being said, we don’t know whether the plan will remain the same as it was planned a decade ago back in January of 2020. Nevertheless, here’s an old rendering which is surely out of date:

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Old rendering

While we’re here, please take a look just a few doors to the south and note the new mixed-use building nearby. We told you back in 2018 that developers were building a five-story building here with 6 units and retail on the first floor, and now that building appears to be complete. The retail space is available for rent and we suspect the apartments are rentals and not condos, but we’re not certain. Interestingly, this property is about 1/7 the size of the proposal next door but here the developers opted for much less density, at 400 sqft/unit, compared to about 180/sqft per unit nearby. Again, this assumes that the plans still call for 78 units.

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New building down the street
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Looking south on 2nd Street

We wonder whether the neighborhood will be pleased about the fresh food store or whether people would have preferred something different. Make no mistake, just about any new retail business is a positive step for the 2nd Street corridor, especially since it will replace a business that targeted a very specific segment of the population. Off the cuff though, we can’t think of what might be a better use of 5,000 sqft at this location – a laser tag spot perhaps?