We’ve watched with great interest, over the last few years, as Ridge Avenue in Francisville has experienced a slow rebirth. Off the cuff, we can think of roughly a dozen new mixed-use buildings either under construction or recently completed on this corridor, which should collectively provide the neighborhood with an exciting commercial future. If we turn back the clock several decades, Ridge Avenue was previously a thriving commercial corridor and the Ridge Avenue Farmers Market was in the middle of it all.
As we’ve told you previously, the handsome building fell out of use in the 1960s, got designated historic in the 1980s, and ultimately got torn down in the late 1990s following a roof collapse after a snow storm. Feels appropriate to remember this building on a day like this, eh? The site of the building sat vacant for many years, though a couple of projects have filled in parts of the parcel of late, with another one on the horizon which should fill in the remaining vacancy.
Next door at 1800 Ridge Ave. stands a building with wonderful bones that’s been on and off the market for many years. This structure was originally built as a small hotel for the vendors at the adjacent market, and must have been really impressive back in the day. More recently, the building was used as a rooming house, and in the last few years it was sitting empty. The facade was in poor condition and the original brickwork on the first floor was clumsily covered by a newer brick facade.
About a year ago though, we told you that developers had purchased the building and were planning to renovate the building into 13 rental apartments with a retail space on the first floor. This kind of renovation is a dicey proposition, and we’ve seen countless buildings with nice bones get utterly ruined by developers that cheap out on materials and craftsmanship. We’re pleased to say, as we check in on the project today, that’s not at all what happened with this property. It looks fantastic!
This newly renovated building will surely be a feather in the cap for this reinvigorated commercial corridor, and the retail space should be very attractive for a business that wants to open in Francisville. But what kind of business will eventually open here? As we’ve said many times before, Ridge Avenue is bursting with potential and has many commercial spaces available. Once a couple businesses open up on the corridor, we believe it’ll open the floodgates for other retail operations. But what businesses will take those brave first steps? And where?