In its heyday, Point Breeze Avenue was a paragon of a neighborhood commercial corridor. According to articles we’ve read and longtime residents we’ve spoken with, Point Breeze Avenue had such a diverse array of retail options that people hardly ever had to leave the neighborhood to do their shopping. In today’s Age of Amazon (TM), this kind of neighborhood commercial corridor has gone extinct outside of the very center of town and even still looks very different than it did before. But Point Breeze Avenue’s decline began decades before Amazon was a thing, and the corridor still hasn’t come close to recovering, even as residential development has dramatically accelerated in the surrounding neighborhood.
The northern end of the corridor, let’s say from Federal to Dickinson, is no great shakes, but we can at least say that many of the storefronts are occupied by active businesses. Further, we’ve seen and handful of new businesses open along this section of the corridor over the last several years. Once you get south of Dickinson, things get pretty awful, with numerous vacant buildings, tons of vacant land, and only a smattering of businesses along the way. By the last couple blocks of Point Breeze Avenue, the neighborhood commercial corridor turns almost entirely residential.
The 1600 block of Point Breeze Avenue is a microcosm of a corridor that’s suffered from severe disinvestment, with a mix of vacancy and blight. But things are on the upswing for this block, as a few projects are in various stages of construction at present.
About a year and a half ago, we told you about plans for a 1606 Point Breeze Ave. that called for a four-story building with ground-floor retail and three apartments on the upper floors. That project got approved by the ZBA and within a year, the developers that got those approvals flipped the lot to someone else. The project has broken ground, but the site looks like it might be stalled at the moment. At the southern end of the block, the same developers got approval for a similar project at 1650 Point Breeze Ave. and also flipped the lot, and that building is much further along.
Across the street, meanwhile, we see a couple other projects. The duplex at 1619 Point Breeze Ave. looks like new construction, but it’s actually a rehab of an existing two-story building. We have to think that there’s very little that remains of the original building here, which seemed like it was in pretty rough shape. The units in the building are listed for rent, for $1,800/mo and $2,500/mo. What we have to think is another rental play is maybe six months away, just a few steps down the street. While the building at 1625 Point Breeze Ave. may look like a mixed-use building at first glance, don’t be fooled- it’s actually a five-unit apartment building. Both of these projects have happened by-right, because for some reason this entire block is zoned for multi-family use, not mixed-use commercial.
Additional development is surely in the cards for the block, with three properties at 1631-35 Point Breeze Ave. currently listed for sale. More prominently, the former Point Breeze Pop-Up beer garden is also on this block and would make for a sizable apartment project as well. The large property was listed for sale a couple years ago, but came off the market and has been sitting empty. Like we said though, the block isn’t even commercial, so future developments on these properties are likely to be purely residential in nature, unless the owners go to the ZBA. This seems less than likely, which tells us that retail probably won’t extend much past Dickinson Street in the future, as is the case today. If the zoning on the entire corridor were updated to CMX-2.5, we’d expect considerable redevelopment and major growth along Point Breeze Avenue. Alas, we don’t expect that to happen, so look for incremental change moving forward on the commercial blocks and lots of apartments on the 1600 block of Point Breeze and to the south.