It was just a few short years ago that the southwest corner of 24th & Wharton looked terrible. The collection of buildings there had some terrific history, having been home to a doctor’s office, a rooming house/apartment building, a beer distributor, a restaurant called Reno’s Café, a community center, and an education non-profit over the years. But time had been cruel to these buildings and we can’t imagine anybody was sad when a developer bought them and tore them down.
In early 2016, shortly after the demolition was done, we would have expected a townhome development with six units, especially considering the fact that the parcel is zoned for single family use. Instead, the developer threw us a curveball and went to the ZBA with a plan to build a mixed-use building here, with retail on the first floor and a dozen apartments. When we told you about the plan, it had yet to go before the community, and we were skeptical about its chances for a variance. But somehow, the ZBA gave the thumbs up! We figured it wouldn’t be long before we saw this new building on the scene.
The bad news is that it took a few years longer than we would have expected. The good news is that it’s happening right now. The building will only rise three stories, which is probably part of the reason they got the variance in the first place, so framing is now more than half finished. Of course, there’s still plenty of work yet to come, but we now that construction is moving, we expect the building will be done in the first half of 2021. As for the retail space on the first floor, that might take more time to fill than the apartments given the stress on small business from COVID, but whatever eventually opens there will at least have the benefit of views of Wharton Square Park right across the street.
We last visited this green space about a year and a half ago, as it was undergoing a massive storm water management project. That seems to have wrapped up, and the park is looking and draining better than ever. Check it out the next time you’re in the area- it’s a great place to cool off in the shade on a hot summer day- and a fine place to live across from as well.