We’ve always been intrigued by the 900 block of Carpenter Street, as it’s one of the more unusual blocks in Bella Vista. One end of the block ends in the heart of the Italian Market, while the other end features a sweet local cafe, along with Bardascino Park and its legendary bocce courts. The north side of the block is a mix of older homes, newish homes, and some old warehouses and garages. The south side of the block includes some more warehouses and garages, but is dominated by surface parking lot which gets plenty of use from people visiting the Italian Market. Today we turn our attention to two of those garages on the south side of the street, buildings which have been sitting empty for a number of years.

The buildings

Amazingly, we covered 942-944 Carpenter St. way back in 2012, noting that they seemed like a prime redevelopment opportunity and wondering if and when a developer would take advantage. The buildings look pretty much the same today as they did back then, with one notable change. There’s an L&I notice on one of the buildings, indicating there’s some work in progress. We see that developers bought the garages about a year ago and pulled by-right permits to build additions on top of the existing garages, for use as single family homes. As the lots are zoned for single-family use, this certainly makes sense.

Wonderful cafe next door
Bardascino Park, down the street

This project reminds us of another addition we covered previously, on the 800 block of Carpenter. For that project, a developer took a much wider garage and converted it into a very unique residential property. Here, we believe that the developers will build something that’s relatively normal, and they might even demolish most of the existing buildings to produce homes that look less like converted warehouses and more like traditional new construction. It’s actually fairly common for developers to characterize new construction as building an addition in order to preserve something about the existing building. In this case, it would be the garage parking, which would otherwise require a zoning variance. Figure that the inclusion of parking will push up the sale prices for the new homes by a considerable amount, so we can hardly blame them for taking this approach.