Bella Vista

Will it get redeveloped, or will sushi continue to reign?

Around the residential neighborhoods, we generally see buildings that are either two or three stories tall. Then we'll also see some four-story buildings, homes that generally arrived on the scene either a hundred years ago or in the last twenty years. One story buildings, we confess, we don't see so often. We can only think of a handful around town, notably the Twilight Lounge at 20th & Bainbridge and Big Eyes Sushi at 7th & Bainbridge. Surely there are others that aren't coming to mind at the moment.

Big Eyes Sushi in its one-story glory

How did this property come to be? Honestly we have no idea, though we'd imagine that it was once a corner tavern like the Twilight. Or maybe it once had upper floors but they were removed, a la the Snellenberg's building at Market East. We seem to recall, before it was a sushi place, it was a thrift shop. Does anyone else remember this?

Boy, that alliteration petered out quickly

Some days we're just amazed at how long we've been doing this. Today is such a day. Waaaaay back in November of 2011, we first told you about plans for four homes at 808 Carpenter St., a green project called The Olive Townhomes. This was exciting at the time, as we were pleased to see this curiously vacant lot near the Italian Market get redeveloped. But it's a good thing we weren't too excited, because sometimes the waiting is the hardest part.

See, it wasn't until the spring of 2013 that construction actually got going for this project, when framing took place for two of the homes. From what we can tell, those homes are now finished and one sold last summer for shy of $700K. And you know what, they look pretty good.

The first two homes

Of course, you can't see those homes right now, as construction is underway for the other two homes, the ones that actually front Carpenter Street. Before the snow fell, we snagged some images, just to prove we're not yanking your collective chains.

Homes will replace it, like we told ya

Over the summer, we shared the news that Lily Development was planning seven new homes over the 700 blocks of Bainbridge and Kater Streets. Some kind of residential development on these parcels makes perfect sense. 739-41 Bainbridge St. was an unattractive garage for many years that's now been demolished. 734-38 Bainbridge St. had been home to Klinghoffer Carpet for quite awhile, but we'd posit that homes are more appropriate for this location than a big carpet store. We know there was some community opposition to the project, but that was due to the details of the homes like front loading garages for some and bulk for others. Despite this, the project was approved by the ZBA and now seems to be moving forward. Recently, demolition signs appeared on the former carpet store.

Demolition coming soon

Signs advertising the project, which is being called Bella Vista Strada, have appeared on both sides of the street. A reminder, the project includes three homes on the south side of Bainbridge, two homes on the north side of Bainbridge, and two more homes on Katers Street. Ah, what developer doesn't love a good street-to-street lot?

End of an era

For at least the last decade, a building near the corner of 8th & Washington has stuck out like a delightfully sore thumb. The squat building that was home to the New Golden Palace Restaurant would have probably fit in much better in Las Vegas than a block from the Italian Market, but there it sat in all its glory. Cheesy pillars, golden cornice details on two floors, and a crown above the entrance all gave the building a certain je ne sais quoi that at least made you stop for a second to stare while getting a delicious soft pretzel across the street.

In the past
Another view from further back

We passed this building yesterday and discovered that the restaurant is gone. According to its Yelp reviews, this is no big loss. More distressing to us is that the building has been stripped of all the details that made it so hilarious and interesting. It's now just a stucco box.

Twould be a shame

A few years ago, James closed after five successful years at 824 S. 8th St. when their lease ended. And we wondered what would replace this popular restaurant, located just a block from the Italian Market. In September of 2012, The Mildred took over the former James space, only to close this summer. A reader recently reached out, concerned that the former restaurant space would be converted into offices. These fears stemmed from a sign on the building from Phillyofficeretail.com.

Former home of The Mildred
Sign on the building

With a name like that for a leasing company, we can certainly understand the confusion. But we're here today to calm everybody down. We popped over to their website and the 3,600 sqft space is indeed available for rent as a turnkey restaurant. The space comes with a full commercial kitchen, but the liquor license costs extra. They're looking for a monthly rent of $6,200.

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