Remember the old American Ice and Coal warehouse at 9th & Washington? For years, we dreamed about someone turning this vacant monstrosity into some kind of mixed-use gem, lifting up the southern section of the Italian Market. Instead, it got demolished back in 2008 and we've had a vacant lot monstrosity ever since. Three years back, Midwood Investments presented a plan to redevelop this parcel with a one-story building with three commercial spaces and 70 underground parking spots and called it the Italian Marketplace. We panned the project, which looked like it was cribbed architecturally from Xfinity Live, mostly for lacking a residential component.
Thankfully, this project didn't get built and the intersection still looks like this:
Last night, the developers came before the community to give this corner another try. The meeting was pretty well attended.
This time, we have a much easier time getting behind the plan for the 32K sqft parcel. The developers are now planning a mixed-use building with 18K sqft of retail along 9th Street and Washington Avenue. Above the commercial, look for four floors of residential, with a total of about seventy apartments. On the Darien Street side, the developers decribed eight "trinity" homes, but we can't imagine they'll actually have trinity stairs. They also described two levels of underground parking with about 150 spots, accessed on 9th Street. Some of the spots will be reserved for residents, but most will be available for public use. Check out our grainy rendering!
The developers said on numerous occasions that they want to build something that the community wants, so it's possible that the plans will change some once the neighborhood has its say. In general, it looks like a sharp project to us, with our only possible complaint being the parking access on 9th Street. But we're honestly not sure that Darien Street or Washington Avenue would be any better. But even if the project sees some minor changes, it's a huge improvement over the previous iteration and we'd be happy to see it built. As for what kind of tenants we can expect, the developers were very clear that this is the "anti-Cheesecake Factory project," (they recently finished the Cheesecake Factory building at 15th & Walnut), so our hope is for local small businesses rather than national chains.
Do you like the project, or would you like some changes? What kind of stores would you like to see here? Do you think that this will change the character of the Italian Market for the better, or do you like it the way it is today?