Broad Street just south of Washington Avenue has a few different projects under construction at the moment. At Broad & Alter, work has proceeded on a 53-unit mixed-use building which suffered a delay of a couple years between presentation and groundbreaking. A 62-unit building at Broad & Ellsworth has moved at blazing speed since it broke ground a little less than a year ago, but this project also suffered a lengthy delay between initial plans and the start of construction. Another project, ostensibly coming soon just down the block, is surely hoping to avoid a similar fate.
We did a story about 1212 S. Broad St. a few years back, noting that JNA Institute of Culinary Arts had made its home there since the late 1980s. As you can possibly tell from looking at the building, it was originally built as a theatre. The Dante opened here in 1937, boasting a sweet Art Moderne facade, closing its doors for good in 1962. Somewhere along the line, the facade got covered up or was otherwise removed from the building, leaving us with the blah front that we have today. We are grateful, at least, that the marquee was preserved in some fashion, as its remaining presence was what inspired us to look into the building’s history in the first place.
It came to our attention today that the building is soon going to undergo another transition, at least in theory. In April, the City issued a zoning permit for a vacant commercial space on the first floor of the building and 17 apartments in the rest. In its current state, that would seem to be impossible, so there’s obviously more to it than the permit indicates. Lo, there was a zoning appeal filed in June which indicates a partial demolition of the building and an addition to the existing structure.
The refusal likely stems from some sort of dimensional variance being triggered, since the new use is already approved in the permit from April. The project will go to the South Broad Street Neighborhood Association next week, at which the community will have a chance to vote on how they like the idea of an addition at this location. From where we sit, it makes all kinds of sense, with additional density extremely appropriate for this property, with its proximity to public transportation. As for what this project will mean for the culinary school, we couldn’t tell you- but given that the applications indicate a vacant commercial space, we have a feeling that they won’t be around much longer.