For the past couple of years, we've been aggressive cheerleaders for Washington Avenue, west of Broad Street. We touted the opening of Kermit's Bake Shoppe as new retail option. We've told you about a still-new crossfit place that replaced a tool store. And when NextFab Studios opened a year ago, we were hopeful that the high-tech workshop would bring additional foot traffic to an often-barren stretch. One feature at NextFab that we particularly appreciated was the inclusion of a Cafe L'Aube location, which we hoped would draw even more folks to Washington Avenue.
Unfortunately, things didn't work for the cafe at this location. But yesterday, we learned from Michael Klein that a new business will soon be taking over the space, from people who already have a working knowledge of the area. According to Klein, Cafe Ynez is a Mexican diner and cafe that will soon be serving the artists, artisans, contractors and neighbors along Washington Avenue. The owners of this establishment already own two spots nearby, Jet Wine Bar and Rex 1516, but it goes without saying that South Street West and Washington Ave. are two very different animals. Still, we're optimistic that the new concept will find a way as Washington Ave. continues to improve.
And speaking of things improving, we learned yesterday that the project proposed for 1601 Washington Ave. was approved by the ZBA! We first told you about the project back in May, and last checked in on it a month and a half ago after the developers presented to the Planning Commission. In case you've forgotten the sordid details, this will involved the construction of a five-story mixed-use building on land that's currently used as a surface parking lot. It will include 35 apartments and a good chunk of commercial space that will hopefully contain retail that's friendly to residents (and not contractors per se).
Just think, when people are hopefully moving here in a year, they'll just have to walk a few blocks west to visit a Mexican byob. Another two blocks, they'll be at a pizza-place/bakery. And if anything ever comes to pass at either vacant corner of Broad & Washington, just imagine how much cool stuff these people will have nearby. Washington Avenue may not be there yet folks, but you can't deny it's moving in the right direction. Hold on tight, it might just be getting ready to take off.