The 1500 block of S. Bouvier St. has seen tremendous change in the last few years and there's more on the way. We don't have to look back too far into the past to see a block that was littered with blighted properties and vacant land, but if you visit today you'll see a number of new homes have risen on the block. But despite the new development, there's still a large patch of vacant land on the south side of the block.
Looking south on the 1500 block of Bouvier St.
But that's not sticking around for much longer. Affordable housing developer Innova has poured three foundations at 1524-28 S. Bouvier St., and three new homes are forthcoming. You may recall, they have a large affordable project just a block to the north on the 1400 block. What we're not sure about here is whether these three homes will be offered at an "affordable" price, as Innova does do the occasional market rate project, as we've seen.
A reader brought our attention to a new construction fence at 1130 S. 24th St. the other day, and we immediately starting thinking about all the other development that's happening on 24th Street over the last few years. We first wrote about this area about four and a half years ago, a year or two after 3 homes had been built on the 1200 block of S. 24th Street. At that time, developers had just poured foundations for three new homes next door and we were hopeful that the project would inspire additional development nearby. Those homes all sold for under $250K in 2012, btw.
Row of six homes built a few years ago in two phases
We wouldn't suggest that the aforementioned project led to additional development so much as the white hot real estate market in all of Point Breeze, but whatever the cause this area has seen a staggering amount of new construction of late. The most significant example is the huge project at 24th & Manton, where 19 new homes are either under construction or recently completed. Those homes have been selling for as much as $500K. Times have changed indeed.
Point Breeze Avenue has seen some small improvements over the last few years, but it's still a very long way from reaching its potential as a vibrant commercial corridor. As we've pointed out many times in the past, the base zoning on Point Breeze Avenue makes its continued improvement all the more challenging.
Point Breeze Avenue
Allow us to put a very fine point on it: With much of the corridor zoned CMX-2, height, density, and open air requirements pretty much allow for ground-floor retail and two upstairs apartments for a regularly sized parcel. Because retail rents remain very low on the corridor, the performance of any mixed-use development on Point Breeze Avenue relies almost exclusively on residential rents. Unfortunately, with construction costs being what they are, there's virtually no by-right new construction project that makes economic sense. We've argued to upzone Point Breeze Avenue to CMX-2.5 in the past, which would allow for more height and density and would likely expedite improvements along Point Breeze Avenue, but that has not happened.
We visited the 1900 block of Fernon Street a few months ago and discovered a block under heavy construction. Perhaps this redevelopment effort was spurred by the renovation of the adjacent Ralph Brooks Park, or maybe it happened because development is moving ever further south in Point Breeze and this block happened to have a bunch of empty lots. No matter the explanation, there's at least eight homes at various stages of development on the block. And as you might guess, there's been some solid progress since our last visit.
Looking east on the 1900 block of Fernon
The 2000 block of Fernon Street is a very different animal, compared to the 1900 block. While the former possessed over twenty vacant lots as recently as a year ago, the latter block has remained mostly intact over time. Looking west on this block, you can see a few vacant lots, but it's mostly unrenovated two-story homes.