On Baltimore Avenue, we’re still waiting for a number of projects we wrote about over the summer to start moving. At 5021-23 Baltimore Ave., the complex legal process for acquiring a liquor license is slowing the opening of the planned Babylon Bistro. If a liquor license cannot be procured, it will drastically change the plans for the restaurant and cause the owners to scale back their investment.
Meanwhile, Pound Cake Heaven recently opened at 5029 Baltimore Ave., and plans for a jazz club at 5027 Baltimore Ave. are also still in place, but moving slowly.
At the future site of Babylon Bistro, owner Saba Tedla, who also owns Aksum, the popular Mediterranean eatery at 47th & Baltimore, purchased the properties a year ago, with plans to open a ground-floor restaurant and gut and renovate the apartments above. Six one-bedroom units with hardwood floors and granite countertops, starting at $750/month, were completed in October.
But before Tedla will move forward with her restaurant plan, she will have to go through an involved community process that requires eight different organizations to sign-off on the project, like Cedar Park Neighbors and the People's Baptist Church further down the block. That also includes some, according to Tedla, who are not part of the immediate neighborhood.
“There are people not in this immediate neighborhood making the decisions how we try to do business in our neighborhood,” said Tedla.
If Tedla cannot get the license, she will still open a business here, but it will not be with the same vision she had of the restaurant as a large neighborhood destination, one that would have meant an investment of over $100K. Without the liquor license, it will much more difficult to generate the revenue needed to justify such a large outlay. Before Tedla appears at a January hearing for the license, she wants to be sure all the details are covered. That means Babylon Bistro could open by late winter or early spring if all goes well.
So while it will still be a few months before any more changes continue on the ground-floor along this block, it's interesting to note that the apartments in this building were going for around $200 less per month before the improvements. With the influx of new retail and continued improvements of buildings in Cedar Park, this is consistent with other rising rent stories we've heard before. And we would bet that the rents will continue to rise here in the years to come.