Turn back the clock a little more than decade, and the 1000 block of S. 17th Street was an urban wasteland. On both sides of the street, almost every property was either a vacant lot or a blighted building. As the Graduate Hospital neighborhood was gentrifying, these properties were sitting empty, owned by the City and awarded a couple of times via RFP but never developed. Finally, in late 2011, the City awarded the properties on the east side of the block to a development partnership between the Goldenberg Group and neighborhood residents.

From that partnership came Carpenter Square, a project that includes 11 townhomes and a mixed-use condo building at the corner of 17th & Carpenter. To give you a sense of how the market has changed in the neighborhood, when the project was first presented, the developers expected the homes to sell in the mid to high $500K range. The homes eventually sold in 2014-15 at prices between $635K and $785K. One of the homes sold for a second time just this month for $850K. So we’d say this development has worked out pretty well.

Carpenter Square

Except… you’ll notice in the photo above that there’s no business operating out of the retail space on the first floor of the building at the corner. It turns out, even with high priced homes next door and half a dozen condos above, it’s been a tricky business to sell a commercial condo at 17th & Carpenter. In addition, the developers have been extremely picky in terms of buyers for this space; as we mentioned, several neighborhood residents are on the development team and they’ve tried to ensure that the right operator takes over the retail space.

Though it’s probably taken longer than they would have hoped, they’ve finally found a buyer. We officially got the word yesterday that Rosemarie Tran and Gianluca Demontis, owners of Melograno, will be opening a new byob in this space. Though this won’t be a clone of the popular Melograno, it will still be an Italian restaurant, and a fine addition to the restaurant mix in the neighborhood.

Duplexes finished on the west side

When we last checked in on the west side of this block a little over a year ago, developers were framing out eight duplexes. Those duplexes are now finished and the units are listed for sale, with lower units offered around $550K and upper units going for roughly $600K. The larger condo units at Carpenter Square, though still smaller, sold in the mid-$400K range, so this further illustrates the rising price points in the neighborhood. And for the restaurateurs working on the space across the street, the timing couldn’t be better in terms of building a local customer base. It’s certainly better than opening a restaurant across the street from a big empty lot.