A long vacant building at 1654 Ridge Ave. changed hands a few months ago, and the developers will soon go to the ZBA for permission to build an addition on the existing structure, with plans for ground-floor retail and seven apartments above. This building once contained a pharmacy and a doctor's office, according to an old listing, but if you live nearby you probably know it as the building with a bunch of murals, including a memorial mural for someone named Wee. We're pretty sure it's all DIY, with no association with Mural Arts, and if that's indeed the case it's one of the best community murals we've ever seen. That being said, we imagine the new owners will remove it once they start construction.
Next door, the former home of Gilbert Shoes also continues to sit vacant, though some long dormant permits were modified over the summer. Perhaps this building will also get renovated in the coming months, though it's unfortunate that such a renovation would likely mean the elimination of the wonderful sign that looks like it's been there for decades.
This activity fits right in with what we've seen in recent years on Ridge Avenue. It wasn't too long ago that this corridor was pretty much a burned-out husk, overflowing with vacant buildings and lots. But we've seen a major uptick in construction and renovation on Ridge which is incrementally improving. On the 1600 block alone, there are multiple projects ongoing which we last covered back in June.
It's excellent that all these buildings are under construction, and it's particularly great that all of them include a commercial aspect. After all, Ridge Avenue was once a major commercial corridor and the hope is that it will fill that role again in the future. We're pretty plugged in, but haven't heard much of anything about potential new businesses coming to Ridge. Maybe some neighbors have some insight? As more apartments get built and more residents move in, the area becomes more and more attractive to businesses, but it's still tough to be a pioneer. But eventually, you have to think that they'll come. What types of businesses would people like to see populate this corridor?
Update: Per a commenter, the Gilbert Shoes building actually houses a community center. Check out their page here.