In 2011, the Redevelopment Authority was going to buy the land to create a permanent park, but then decided against it because of possible soil contamination. In 2012, the owners fenced in the lot and in 2013 they tore out most of the plantings. The property has been on and off the market, and was most recently listed for $250K. It's unclear whether developers have stayed away because of the price, because of potential soil issues, or because they don't want to be known as the company that took over a lot that many people want to see as green space.
When we passed by this lot earlier today, we were shocked to see what appears to be the beginning of a new project. It looked like a hole was being dug, ostensibly for new foundations. Given what we know about the soil, we'd have bet the farm that any construction here would involve a slab and little to no digging.
We last visited the Nebinger School at 6th & Carpenter two summers back, when construction was taking place to dramatically improve the school's stormwater management. That project included a rain garden and the addition of an underground water basin, and was completed for the 2013-14 school year. Currently, those improvements are mostly covered in snow, as will happen this time of year.
View of the school from 6th Street
Of course, a schoolyard can always be improved further. Now, the Friends of Nebinger and the school are collaborating on a new gateway into the schoolyard on 6th Street. In December, a meeting with designers from BLT Architects resulted in a scheme for an "open pavilion" that includes a green-covered trellis and ceramic tile details that echo the school's main entrance on Carpenter Street. A reader was kind enough to share the drawings, which still have a very rough look to them. As the process progresses, we'd wager someone will punch this stuff into CAD.
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?
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.
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?