Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

Demolition Underway For East Town Apartments

Contractor making quick work of former restaurant.

By - Sep 10th, 2021 05:19 pm
Demolition of 1237 N. Van Buren St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Demolition of 1237 N. Van Buren St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Nova‘s rise is spelling Buca’s demise.

Western Contractors, on behalf of New Land Enterprises, is demolishing the 37,552-square-foot building at 1237 N. Van Buren St. that long-held a Buca di Beppo restaurant and a Bally Total Fitness gym. The restaurant closed in 2017, the final tenant in the building to depart. Built in 1978, the structure occupied the northern edge of an L-shaped, 1.3-acre lot that runs from N. Van Buren St. to N. Jackson St.

Little remains of the restaurant portion of the building after less than a month of demolition, unless you count the sorted piles of material atop the property’s surface parking lot. In the coming weeks, Western will finish off the gym portion of the structure. A raze permit on file with the city estimates the cost of the job at $280,000.

Catalyst Construction will then take over, building the 251-unit, nine-story Nova apartment building.

The L-shaped building will run from N. Jackson St. to N. Van Buren St. with a two-story commercial space designed for a cafe at the corner of N. Van Buren St. and E. Juneau Ave. Parking would be included in the building’s lower levels. An outdoor pool will be included atop the 321-stall parking pedestal.

Given that the western end of the property slopes downward toward N. Jackson St. and the adjacent hop station, from that vantage point the building will appear as nine stories. From the corner of N. Van Buren St. and E. Juneau Ave. it will appear as an eight-story building.

The building’s design, led by Korb + Associates Architects, will include a number of New Land trademarks. The club room will be merged with the lobby, creating a space that isn’t just a place to pass through. An emphasis will be placed on biophilia, the integration of nature, as well as the concept of play. The firm’s KinetiK building in Bay View has swings in the lobby, as well as different little nooks for people to use laptops or hang out with friends.

Nova is not designed to compete with the tower New Land is building two blocks south called Ascent. It will be the tallest mass-timber building in the world and is aimed at the high end of the rental marketplace. Nova is intended to use economies of scale to deliver a desirable number of amenities, including the pool, while keeping a low price point.

New Land secured a zoning change for the site in May to enable the building’s construction. A revision was granted in July that reduces the amount of glass at the southeastern corner and makes the third-story, east-facing balconies consistent with the floors above.

Some issues impacting the building’s design are effectively out of New Land’s control. The northern facade would face E. Knapp St. if not for an urban renewal era decision to vacate the street. Instead of townhomes lining a sidewalk, the first two levels of the parking structure will present as a lightly-adorned wall facing a surface parking lot. The southwestern corner of the site will still contain the USPS Juneau Station post office. A small gap will be maintained between the two structures, with the apartment floors of Nova set back allowing installation of balconies and windows.

An affiliate of New Land acquired the property in April from a limited liability company controlled by Johnny Vassallo for $2.3 million. Vassallo had acquired the property in October 2020 for $2.1 million from an affiliate of Elite Sports Club while New Land already had a contract in place to purchase the property in 2021.

The post office property has also changed hands. Mbogo Properties and an affiliate of Location Finders International jointly acquired the 38,193-square-foot, one-story building at 606 E. Juneau Ave. for $3.74 million in August from a firm controlled by the Marcus family.



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3 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Demolition Underway For East Town Apartments”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Little boxes on the hillside
    Little boxes made of ticky tacky
    Little boxes on the hillside
    Little boxes all the same
    There’s a pink one and a green one
    And a blue one and a yellow one
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same
    And the people in the houses
    All went to the university
    Where they were put in boxes
    And they came out all the same
    And there’s doctors and lawyers
    And business executives
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same
    And they all play on the golf course
    And drink their martinis dry
    And they all have pretty children
    And the children go to school
    And the children go to summer camp
    And then to the university
    Where they are put in boxes
    And they come out all the same
    And the boys go into business
    And marry and raise a family
    In boxes made of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same
    There’s a pink one and a green one
    And a blue one and a yellow one
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same

  2. 45 years in the City says:

    One less ugly surface parking lot on Van Buren.

    I believe the original restaurant in the Buca space was “Peppercorns” or similar, followed by Armadillo Grill which had a successful run.

    The health club began (I believe) as an independent business focused on racquetball. It then became part of the Bally empire, branded for a time as “Vic Tanny”. I joined when it was classified as an “executive club” with towel service and other amenities. One could occasionally see pro athletes as well as minor local celebrities. Over the years it became run down and dirty. When Bally spun off their health club division, it got worse. Eventually the company went bankrupt, and the space was operated as a “Blast Fitness” for awhile. Based on DNS requests for service at the time, it was even more rundown.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @45 years in the City

    Yes, it’s great to see this surface parking lot going away. And I look forward to the new neighbors!

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