Demolition Underway For East Town Apartments
Contractor making quick work of former restaurant.
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.
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.
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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