If you follow real estate even a little bit, it comes as no surprise that living habits and preferences have changed greatly over the last several years. With technology and work-from-home shifts providing folks with more flexibility to be where they prefer, the increase in short-term rentals we’ve seen in the city is understandable. So it’s no shock that an apartment project from the past at 701 S. Broad St. is making a switch from apartments to short term units. We have covered this property going back to 2015, when it was then a KFC, before getting new life as colorful street art, and then eventually being demoed back at our last visit in 2020.

Looking east across Broad St. at the nearly finished project
An aerial shows the property highlighted on the southeast corner of S. Broad & Bainbridge
Back in its mural era

We had a pretty good idea of what to expect when we last checked in, with plans for 50 apartment units and four “hotel rooms” from floors two through seven, with vacant commercial space on the ground floor which previously was to be a fresh food market. Hightop Development worked with PZS Architects to design a contemporary mid-rise project, which rises taller than the nearby 777 South Broad apartments, albeit on a much smaller piece of land. But as we mentioned, a recent zoning document tipped us off to the fact that all of the units will now be offered as visitor accommodations – suggesting this will either be a hotel or short-term rental. The name of the building has also changed, and will now be called “Ovation.” As you can see, things are getting very close to completion and look quite similar to the original plans, though with a slightly altered color scheme. Let’s give the developers the “ovation” they deserve for actually building something that looks like the renderings!

A rendering of the project, looking southeast
Similar view shows that plans remained the same, with some slight color variations
The recently cleared site at our last visit in 2020
Silhouette rises above existing buildings and trees when viewed from the south
A closer look at the building shows the multiple materials used
View at the ground level of the vacant commercial space

While not active quite yet, this seems like a strong location for this type of project. With the success of other similar spots around town, the fact that this sits just a block from the Lombard-South BSL station along a key transportation corridor seems like a recipe for success. The addition of commercial space here will also help activate the block, which can feel a bit barren at times due to the current uses on the east side of Broad. And speaking of the east side of the street, we couldn’t help but notice two other parcels that could be appealing for future development.

Just north of Bainbridge at 615 S. Broad St., an Exxon station sits low and auto-oriented compared to its near neighbors. We don’t see any signs of action for that parcel as of late, but we sure would love to see something else at this location. Meanwhile, a building to the south at 725 S. Broad St. has more definitive plans ahead. Formerly a parking garage affiliated with the Peace Mission, plans were afoot back in 2019 for an addition to the structure. The project called for a two-story addition from Canno Design, but a more recent building permit states that a larger, office-focused addition may be in the works. No signs of action can be seen right now, so we aren’t entirely sure what to expect here in the future.

Exxon station just north of Bainbridge likely here for the long haul
Current view of the former parking garage at 725 S. Broad
Could we see this two-story addition in the future?

The south side of Broad Street sure is continuing its forward momentum. The urban canyon effect along this stretch is getting more noticeable by the day between City Hall and Washington Ave., and that’s without other future projects along this stretch yet to make their mark along the skyline. Until then, let’s hope that these projects keep coming along to make the Avenue of the Arts as busy and beautiful as possible.