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VOL. 116 | NO. 100 | Thursday, May 23, 2002

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By JENNIFER MURLEY Retail buildings expand Midtown market By JENNIFER MURLEY The Daily News An outdated, deteriorating commercial strip at the intersection of Peabody Avenue and Cooper Street is undergoing a summer-long redevelopment bringing new retail services to Midtown residents. Last month, property owners and developers James Rasberry and Jimmy Lewis razed the buildings at 242-246 S. Cooper St., home of longtime Midtown bar Charlottes Place. Rising from the empty lot is a 3,200-square-foot commercial building expected to be complete by August. Storefronts at 248 and 250 S. Cooper were left standing, and are being renovated into one 1,600-square-foot retail space expected to be ready next month. The entire redevelopment, including the recent renovation of the Midtown Yoga building at 526 S. Cooper, also owned by Rasberry and Lewis, is expected to cost about $500,000, Rasberry said. T.A. Brown Construction Co. is the general contractor on the project. Archimania is the project designer. "Its a great little retail corner," Rasberry said. "Traffic has jumped dramatically with the (trolley line) construction on Madison. Peabody has become a big east-west thoroughfare." Describing the finished look as a "clean and simple design," Rasberry said the new storefronts would easily blend with existing buildings in the area. "I want to keep the same architectural integrity and feel for the neighborhood, yet at the same time, lets get a building that works a little better and cleans this whole corner up," he said. Although the foundation has yet to be poured for the new building, developers already have their first tenant. The Eclectic Eye, a new optometry group owned by Dr. Michael Weinberg and his wife, Robbie, will open next month in the renovated storefront at 248 S. Cooper. Upon completion of the new structure in August, Weinberg will move his business there, leaving the renovated storefront available for leasing. "Midtown is in sore need of services, so were trying to bring some of that back," Weinberg said. Dr. Jason Duncan will practice with Weinberg. The new office will be Weinbergs first business, after practicing for years with his fathers optometry group, Optical Outlet. In addition to traditional optometry services, Weinberg said The Eclectic Eye will specialize in offering a unique selection of eyewear, unlike any other shop in the city. "Its going to be oriented towards Midtown," he said. "Were going to have all kinds of funky, groovy eyewear, along with nice-looking classical eyewear and high fashion frames well have something for everybody." Nearby businessman Terry Garner, Blue Light Studios owner, recently made a move similar to Weinberg. After relocating his Downtown photo studio into the building at 247 S. Cooper, Garner said his client base has noticeably increased. "We are the only photography studio (in Midtown). People were having to go way out East to go to a photography studio," Garner said. "The Midtown area, I just cannot say enough about how theyre supporting us. Its wonderful." Garner purchased the corner building, formerly Ruby Begonias pet store, in March 2001 spending a total of $275,000 to redevelop two of the three storefronts into studio space. He recently leased the remaining storefront at 243 S. Cooper, next door to Barksdale Restaurant, to restaurateur Glenn Hays, owner of La Tourelle restaurant. By September, Hays plans to open a small French/Italian bistro, called Cafe 1912. The cafe will open only in the evenings, serving affordable items including muffaletta and Panini sandwiches along with wide wine and beer selection. Although a number of business owners inquired about the space, many of which were tattoo parlors, Garner said he waited for a business that would complement the neighborhood. Both Garner and Rasberry said overall reactions among neighborhood residents and businesses to the redevelopment have been positive. And, in light of other businesses that have recently moved within a block of the Peabody/Cooper intersection such as Harrys Detour and the InsideOut Life Gym, Rasberry predicts hell have no problem leasing the renovated storefront left vacant after Weinberg moves into the new building. "I think Midtown, just that whole corridor from Cooper-Young to (Overton) Square is an attractive area that should be redone," he said.
PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225