Former Microscope Store on 2nd Street Getting New Life

We've gone past 35 N. 2nd St. a number of times over the last month, each time meaning to pause for a minute to peer at the zoning notice posted on the front, but always in too much of a hurry. Finally, we took a minute yesterday to look at the zoning notice on this vacant building, which was previously home to I. Miller Microscopes for a very long stretch. Developers bought the building about a year ago, paying $800K for the property.

View from the north

Looking at the zoning notice, we see that those developers have plans to build an addition on the building and intend to maintain the ground floor commercial space while creating ten apartments on the upper floors. The minutes from their presentation to the Historical Commission provide additional detail, indicating that they'll build out the rest of the third floor and construct a fourth floor as well, leaving a 25' break in the middle of the building on the fourth floor, ostensibly to accommodate deck space and to provide additional light to the upper units. According to the zoning application, which got approval last month from the ZBA, they don't yet have a tenant in place for the retail space. It's a safe bet that the microscope store, which has moved to the 'burbs, won't be making a comeback here.

Really deep building

It feels a little odd to be reporting on this kind of development in this neighborhood, since most of our Old City coverage of late has related to the construction of mansions. With a location just a few steps away from the El and an incredibly deep property, this project makes all kinds of sense and mansions simply wouldn't be practical for this 20' x 200' property. The parking lot next door, on the other hand, might be a different story. And given the number of surface lots that have gone high end residential around here in the last few years, we can't say we'd be shocked to see that outcome at some point. We'd prefer another mixed-use building here, but the market will do what it wants, assuming the zoning cooperates.