Last week, we excitedly told you about the official opening of the new Hawthorne Park, at 12th & Catharine. On the blocks surrounding this park, as we told you before, are 245 homes that have been built by PHA in the last ten years. A mixture of rentals and owner occupied properties, these new homes replaced the blighted and dangerous towers that stood here until 1999. The transformation in the neighborhood has been impressive, and there is clearly still room to grow.
One of the major things we look for in developing neighborhoods is the presence of some local businesses, existing mainly to serve people who live within a few blocks of their location. A few years back, when the last phase of homes were built, Wazobia Cafe and an Everything is $1 store opened at 13th and Catharine Sts.
In the past
In the past year or so, both businesses have shut down. We spoke to the proprietors of the cafe, who explained that they simply didn’t do enough volume to remain open. We weren’t able to speak to the owners of the dollar store, who were open one day (they sold bagged ice for a buck so we went there from time to time) and gone the next.
The other day, we noticed a new sign on the front door of the former cafe space.
While it’s encouraging that someone has decided to take over the vacant commercial space, and we imagine that the new tenants will provide a certain spiritual benefit to people who walk through the doors, it’s a bummer to see a retail space change into a non-retail space. With the dollar store space still vacant, people in the neighborhood have to walk a number of blocks before encountering retail businesses (yeah, we’re not counting the convenience store at the gas station on Broad Street). Can this area support more retail in the future? Or will this area be a largely residential community, where people need to leave the neighborhood for their commercial needs?
Then again, all that being said, we noticed what looked like a restaurant in the works on the 1200 block of Fitzwater Street the other day. So maybe with a little patience, we’ll see some retail locations make it in Hawthorne, after all.