2nd Street Trading a Body Shop For An Apartment Building

Back in March, we visited N. 2nd St. just below Cecil B. Moore Avenue, providing updates on a couple of projects on the west side of the block. At 1638 and 1640 N. 2nd St., developers were initially building a pair of mixed-use buildings, but decided to pivot during the construction process. Realizing that a small ground floor retail space didn’t make much sense that this location, they went to the ZBA for permission to convert the buildings into triplexes and got approval soon after we wrote our story. Just to the north, we noted that construction was just getting started on a separate project consisting of three single family homes.

Checking in now, the triplexes look like they’re nearly finished and there’s been considerable progress on the new homes.

New construction on the west side of the street

But we’re not here today to provide this minor construction update- there’s something much more interesting brewing across the street. Jonny Bravo Auto Body Detail has made its home at 1633 N. 2nd St. for over a decade, but that run came to a close earlier this year when the property was listed for sale for $800K. It’s now under agreement with a developer, who isn’t, as you might guess, looking to maintain an auto body shop at this location. Instead, the plan calls for demolition and the construction of a mixed-use 6-story building. The building will have retail on the first floor, along with 13 parking spots which we have to think would be accessed via Palethorp Street in the rear. Two dozen apartments are planned for the upper floors.

Current view

The project still needs approval from the ZBA so it’s no sure thing that it’ll happen, but we’re optimistic about its odds for success. Strangely, the parcel is zoned ICMX, which means that the height is permitted but the residential use is not. We don’t know that anyone could argue that an apartment building would be a dramatic improvement over the one-story building that’s been here for so long, especially in light of the residential projects across the street. And if you happen to have a problem with the height even though it’s permitted, we’d note that the recently repaired Putnam building next door provides an example that the height will fit right in on this block.

For those lamenting the loss of a local business offering an important service, we’d like to direct your attention to the surrounding blocks, where we think there’s at least half a dozen other auto body shops. Then again, if this project proves to be a success, we can see a world in which some other auto shops close or move away, opting to sell their real estate to developers looking to build similar projects.