Owner: Blue Dog Investments, LLC
Design: MLD Architects | H2 Engineering | Moore Bass Consultants | Runkle Engineering
Value of Improvements: TBD
ETA: Summer 2018
Description: Proposed for a 1.5 acre parcel bordered by All Saints Street, Railroad Avenue, St. Francis Street and S. Macomb Street is a unique mixed-use development made from repurposed shipping containers. The project will feature 28 apartments staggered in a three-story configuration situated around a central garden above ground floor retail space. The property is currently home to Bread and Roses Kitchen and Food Cooperative, Side Bar Lounge, Merv's and All Saints Cafe. Owner's are said to be in negotiations with current tenants for them to remain in place as the future occupants of the newly developed street-level retail space. Phase I will include 12-apartments and parking. Units will be approximately 700 SF each. Another notable component of the project will be the 230 solar panels on the roofs of the buildings.
Sure, some may argue that the city could have rehabilitated the building to a point where it was safe and suitable to lease out where all floors were open plans for building-out. Hindsight, I'd tend to agree with this notion but in my mind, I don't see an interior that maintains the same character as what we see today. I believe, the vast majority of the funds spent on that building were on windows and structural support and not on the actual tenant space itself... but this is not what has been reported by our great investigative local media teams, unfortunately.
That said, I think the city did not operate in the sunshine (so-to-speak) when it came to the selection of the tenant. That is what continues to haunt the city and to some degree the selected tenant to this day. I understand the concept of low rent to entice a tenant for the first term of a lease... that's normal when space is experimental... I just don't like that the terms of the deal were not made more public/widely advertised for other groups to submit their qualifications.
I do see the Ballard building as a significant improvement for Monroe Street but it's not a project I would easily have waived impact fees for. I know the CRA did something similar with the renovation of the DoubleTree, not sure if that was also the case for the renovation of Hotel Duval and the Sheraton 4 Points (just other hotel projects that have undergone similar significant renos in recent years). Waiving impact fees is a tool I feel they should use for companies looking to relocate a significant amount of their workforce to our community. This would have the impact of introducing significant spending to the community in the form of homes purchased, rentals occupied, shopping, utility customers, tax payers etc. The money would come back. In the case of a brand new structure as an improvement over something already in place with no other measurable addition to the community, its tough to understand why its in the community's best interest to subsidize. That's like asking for a waiver of fees to build our homes. It doesn't happen...