The large blighted building at 9th & Poplar has been bugging us for years. It was constructed as a warehouse for Strawbridge & Clothier in 1918, according to Old Images of Philadelphia. In its day, it was a pretty awesome building.
We did some poking around and surprisingly we can't seem to find any articles out there covering the history of this massive structure. We're willing to bet that Strawbridge's stopped using the building long before they closed forever in 2006. Some signage on the first floor suggests that a company called Quaker used the building, and old records indicate that they were a warehousing and storage company. Makes sense.
Philadelphia Suburban Development Corporation bought the building back in 1998 and since at least 2007 there have been signs up on the building indicated that it's available. And it's looked pretty awful in the meantime.
So why do we bring this building to your attention? Well, we've gotten half a dozen emails about it over the last week from people wondering what's going on with it. Passing by the other day, we saw that many of the windows have been removed.
This made us think many thoughts. We wondered, did the building sell? Is it getting redeveloped? What could happen here? Could a residential conversion be feasible? Who's behind this work? Wow, isn't it great the building isn't getting demolished? Could the redevelopment of this building spur additional construction to the east?
And so on.
We reached out to PSDC to get the scoop. And from what they told us, there's actually not very much to report. The company is removing the existing windows, boarding up the openings, and eventually installing new custom windows. They certainly haven't sold the building and it doesn't sound like they've found a tenant either. But we'd wager that with new windows the building will be much easier to lease in the future. As for what kinds of businesses will take over the building, we have no idea.
What do you think would be a good fit for this kind of space at this location?