Several years ago, plans came together to renovate 2101 Washington Ave., the former Frankford Chocolate Factory. In 2012, after a host of changes, the ZBA approved plans for a Campbell Thomas designed mixed-use redevelopment on the site. Since then, the owner of the site (who apparently wasn't such a great dude) passed away, and the property has sat vacant. Sporadic interior demolition work has inspired nearby residents to continue to hope for the renovation of this property, which at 100,000 sqft takes up an entire city block.
This week, several readers have informed us that a new sign has appeared on the property. CBRE is actively marketing the building for sale. The current owners bought it less than a decade ago for $5.75M, and a Business Journal article suggests that the expected sale price is between ten and fifteen million. The sale is precipitated by a court order to liquidate Truong's assets, as he died without a will.
Our last Royal Theater update came in September, when we told you that Dranoff Properties was partnering with Universal to redevelop this longstanding blight on the 1500 block of South Street. The plan, designed by JDavis Architects, would mean the demolition of the historic building but the preservation of its facade. Incorporating the vacant lots on either side, the new building would have 45 luxury rental units, 7,600 sqft of retail space, and 20 parking spots underground. Last night, the developers presented the project again at a special SOSNA community meeting. The special meeting was necessary because the project is being introduced through an ordinance in City Council, and not the through the typical ZBA process.
The project has gone through some changes over the last few months thanks to meetings with near neighbors and the SOSNA Architectural Review Committee, but the main details remain the same. Some materials have changed on the facade, some planters have been added on Kater Street, and some of the one-bedroom units have become two-bedroom units. Also trash loading will happen on South Street.
Immediately to the east of the Saint Anthony's Senior Center on the 1900 block of Christian Street, a row of buildings have uglied up the block for quite some time. 1929-33 Christian St. were home to the Christian Medical Center several years ago, but the buildings got some work done maybe five years back, with a fresh coat of stucco on the first floor. We kind of thought they were converted to apartments at that time, but the property has seemingly been sitting vacant instead. Update: A commenter says that they were, in fact, apartments.
In the past, through the trees
We can't find a great image of the buildings' look thanks to the large trees out front, but you can see two boring glass doors, a bunch of stucco, tiny windows, two floors of vinyl siding, and an unexpectedly lovely cornice. Pass by these properties today and you'll see something entirely different.
Big difference, right? As you can see, the stucco is stripped, the vinyl is gone, and the cornices are thankfully still there. Taking a closer look, you get a really good appreciation for just how mangled these buildings have been in recent memory.
Back in the springtime, we told you about plans to convert the former Baja Room at 15th & South into a new neighborhood cafe. And the other day, Little Spoon Cafe opened their doors for the first time. We stopped by a day or two after they opened, and discovered a wonderful new addition to the South Street West corridor. Inside and out, this place is on point.
In the past
View of the storefront
A peek inside
The exterior has been totally redone, with a spoon theme dominating the storefront (makes sense). Inside, mismatched chairs are complemented by little terrariums (terraria?) on every table. The menu is a nice mix of breakfast and lunch foods and they're making a bunch of pastries in-house. From what we understand it was a gangbusters first weekend, and we imagine that as more people discover the place it will get even busier. We had lunch there late last week and highly recommend the banh mi. If that's not your thing, we suspect you'll find something on the menu that's to your liking.