East Kensington has seen an avalanche of development lately, and to say the area has transformed would be a bit of an understatement. We remember visiting Urban Axes several years ago and it’s safe to say that there wasn’t quite as much going on back then, unless you’re a fan of vacant lots and dilapidated warehouses. But my, how times have changed. Multifamily projects have been springing up as far as the eye can see, and now we have an immediate neighbor to our favorite axe-throwing range joining the fray.

Low-rise structures to be demoed
An expanse of concrete soon to be gone

2000-20 E. Hagert St. is currently a vacant auto body repair shop and an empty parking lot in the middle of a sea of construction. While an auto repair in this location may have made sense in the past, or at least was largely harmless, it’s no longer an appropriate use here. T + Associates has provided us with some renderings of Emerald Lofts, as the developers are calling it, to give us a preview of the upcoming Civic Design Review presentation.

View from Emerald & E. Hagert
View from Emerald & E. Boston
Bird’s eye view of E. Hagert Street
Bird’s eye view of E. Boston Street
Bird’s eye view looking east
One last bird’s eye view, this time looking west

A contemporary take on the area’s industrial past, this six story building will contain 108 units along with 13 artist studios fronting Emerald Street. The residential lobby will be accessed from E. Hagert Street, with a curb cut for the 19-space basement garage coming from E. Boston Street. A narrow, landscaped courtyard will provide some lushness for the residents, while some much needed greenery and trees freshen up the street presence. And a green roof will pretty up the rooftop area while also helping manage some of the site’s storm water runoff. In case you’re wondering, the underground parking and the artist studios are included to make this a by-right development, given this property’s IRMX zoning designation.

We’ve written about this area many times before, starting almost a decade ago when we first told you about the plans for the senior housing that stands catty corner to this project. Coverage has continued over the years, as we’ve seen numerous vacant lots filled in with different projects. More recently, we covered the redevelopment of the Comly Auctioneers building a couple blocks west of here, and you can see development proposed or in progress in all directions.

An aerial of the rapid growth and new density in the immediate area
Another project going up immediately across Emerald Street
Looking toward the El
Seriously, construction is everywhere

While we won’t be sorry to see the auto repair building go, we will be sad to see the street art on the building disappear. Obviously, between demolition and new construction, this art will either end up in the junkyard or it’ll get covered by a building. This might be the only downside we can think of to this project.

Sayonara, sock snake

Perhaps a few of the folks in the upcoming artist studios in Emerald Lofts can take up the mantle of providing a pop of color to the neighborhood. Ooh, and the new building could even provide a section of its facade as a canvas. You’re welcome for the great idea, CDR committee!