There’s a triangular parcel that’s bordered by Mantua Avenue, Fairmount Avenue, and 34th Street that’s been sitting vacant for as long as we can remember. Google Street View confirms it’s been vacant for at least a decade. We know that at one point there were roughly a dozen homes and apartments buildings on this property, which we’ll call 3300 Mantua Ave., but years of disinvestment in the neighborhood likely resulted in the buildings falling into disrepair. And whatever buildings remained by the time the Street administration took over were surely demoed by NTI efforts. An anti-violence sign at the property indicates a public garden, but we don’t see any evidence on that front. Thinking about it, that wouldn’t have been the worst thing, over the last decade plus.
You can see, there’s a zoning notice posted at the corner of 34th Street & Mantua Avenue, suggesting that this parcel should soon see some development activity. With the City owning the lot for a really long time, this comes as a bit of a surprise, but we see that the property was sold to a company called Westview Development Partners back in 2016 through the Land Bank. Westview will be taking a measured approach to developing the property, as the zoning notice indicates plans to divide the property into three lots and build an 8-unit structure with 5 parking spaces on one of those new lots. The other lots will remain vacant for the time being, as the developer either figures out a game plan or puts together financing.
This developer came before the Vacant Property Review Committee last year for a different property and described their somewhat unique business model. For a different project, they are constructing duplexes and triplexes and selling the units as condos in a part of Mantua where condos simply aren’t being built. The thought behind this approach is that they are essentially offering workforce housing for sale, but without any government subsidies. Their target market is a lower income individual, maybe a senior citizen, that wants to own their property but doesn’t need a three or even a two story home. The price points, as described to the VPRC, start at around $150K. We confess, we can’t think of many new construction properties selling at such low prices. That being said, the projects don’t come with a deed restriction, so there’s a world in which the units will sell for more than expected. It’ll just depend on demand.
And there’s a chance there will be demand, at least at this location. Sure, this isn’t exactly the most desirable spot in town, but it’s also got a lot of things going for it. There’s an Indego station right across the street. The 34th Street bridge is located directly to the north, with the Zoo right on the other side. And student housing has been creeping north, with some projects just a couple blocks away.
This developer seems to have all the right intentions, as far as giving long term Mantua residents some new housing options. And when these units get built, we suspect the first round of buyers will fit that description. As for the second round of property owners, it remains to be seen. And it’s quite possible that, a decade from now, maybe less, this property will be student housing, like so many other properties in this area.