The SE corner of 16th & Washington is one that can get lost in the shuffle amongst all the nearby development. Currently on this property are a pair of one-story, brick buildings without much charm, save for the slight step-ups above the garage doors. But according to some preliminary plans, we may see something that seems better fit for the Washington Avenue of 2024. This would be quite a change from both the distant and recent past, where a much more modest pair of structures have graced this site for more than 100 years.

Current view of the matching buildings on the southeast corner of 16th & Washington Ave.
SE Corner, 16thandWash 1917
The same corner back in 1917, a house of sticks

If things go right, this site will soon be going vertical. This property sold a couple years ago, we believe to the owners of C&R Building Supply across the street. And they are proposing to make a shift from marble to mixed-use, per an email note from the East Point Breeze Neighbors. The three parcels that stand here were just recently consolidated according to a zoning document, meaning the first steps are in place for what sounds like a sizable project: 55 units across seven floors are planned, though the approach here is unlike any we can remember.

The view today looking southeast from the corner of 16th & Washington
View from Alter St., looking north on 16th St.
A look at the previous lot line configuration
The new parcel, now consolidated

Plans call for ground floor commercial, presumably to front Washington Ave., but the residences are slated to take up floors three through seven. Does this mean we will see the sizable parking being offered – 71 car spaces and 40 bicycle spaces – take up the second floor? Or perhaps even the second floor and basement? We’re not sure, but the zoning notice also states that the top floor will consist of two penthouse units, both with private roof deck access – odd indeed.

Could the penthouse and 1.3-to-1 parking-to-unit ratio mean that a for-sale approach is in play as opposed to for-rent? We aren’t sure, but this is all a moot point without some major zoning relief; the developers are proposing a huge change from the current industrial focused zoning, with a trip to the ZBA currently scheduled for late September. We would guess that we’ll see some further details for this proposal and/or some major neighborhood push-back before anything is set in stone here. Also we imagine that the ZBA hearing ends up getting pushed back, as some community negotiations seem likely.

Catty-corner from the site is yet another mixed-use proposal that would dramatically change the make-up of the block. It was last summer when we stopped by the empty lot at the northwest corner of 16th & Washington, where shifting plans called for pickleball and a methadone clinic to go up on the site. Since then, a familiar name came in to scoop up the property, proposing a sizable mixed-use plan to take up the property that is just begging for some love.

The property at the NW corner of 16th & Washington
An aerial of the site shows the full property
Screenshot 2024-05-22 At 9.25.45 PM
Rendering of potential development at 1601 Washington Ave.

This pair of projects would be yet another major step in the reinvention of Washington Ave. as it pivots from industrial to residential uses along its western side. With Lincoln Square and the huge One Thousand One projects just a block away to the east and another mixed-use project well under way a few blocks to the west, the face of this major thoroughfare is changing by the day.

But, as we have opined countless times in the past, this change would be smoother and easier to navigate if the dang zoning was what it should be. Washington Ave. has changed and is continuing to change, and keeping the outdated industrial zoning has done little to help make the corridor a better place for all. The west side of Washington is still ripe with potential, but safer roads and appropriate zoning are essential for it to be a place that can be safe and enjoyable for everyone.