From roughly 1980 until the middle of 2018, a 7-11 held down the southeast corner of 22nd & Lombard. That is a very long run for any business at any location, and we tipped our proverbial caps when we covered the business closing a couple years back. At the time, we noted that the opening of a Wawa just a block to the south was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for the 7-11, and we likewise wondered what business might replace the shuttered convenience store, and how long the space might sit vacant.

View of the building

Recently, a reader reached out to us and mentioned that they had seen some work at the property. We were intrigued and set out to take a look for ourselves. We confess, we were surprised by just how much work was happening at the property. Check it out:

Front facade
Back is opened up

We told you before that this property was not only home to a 7-11, but also three apartments located atop the commercial space. For reasons we will never understand, the developers that constructed the building opted against providing windows on its western face, effectively hiding the presence of the units above for someone that didn’t walk around the corner of Lombard Street. This also robbed the corner unit of extra natural light, incidentally. Again, we couldn’t tell you why the builders thought this was the right idea.

You can see in the photos above that the apartments above the commercial space are getting completely renovated. We don’t know what kind of shape those units were in, but it makes enough sense to perform this kind of renovation work during a time that the retail space is vacant. We should mention, though the apartments are getting work done, it doesn’t appear that the commercial space is seeing any construction activity at this time. We don’t see any permits on the property for a new retail tenant, and the ‘Available’ sign on the front would seem to suggest that the space is still… uh… available.

While we hope that this 2,700 sqft space finds a new tenant soon, we wonder whether this project will ultimately represent a missed opportunity for the property owners. The zoning for the parcel allows commercial use, but doesn’t require it – so the owners could have theoretically demoed the building and replaced it with something new, like high end townhomes or a small apartment building. Homes at this location, done right, would sell for over $2M, or as an alternative, an 8-unit building could also be built here by right, with higher density with the use of bonuses. Alternately, we would be totally cool with keeping the existing building and just punching some holes in the facade to add some more windows. Even a couple windows on that western wall would both improve the look of the building and the livability of the unit at the corner.