While the commercial area of University Avenue on both sides of 30th Street has prospered over the past several years, the west end of North Park has not. University Avenue from Florida Street to Arizona Avenue in North Park has long been sketchy.
Until it was finally sold, F Street adult video at the corner of University and Florida reigned as the street’s king of sleaze. That building at 2004 University later became the General Store North Park plus offices and apartments. That store closed for renovations, and the building underwent a rainbow-like paint job by an internationally established street artist named RISK.
While the store will still sell consumer clothes including Levis, it will concentrate now on chef wear and work wear and plans to offer cooking classes using its newly built kitchen. Owner Kenneth Yufe said in a statement that “we know retail is changing.”
Several old houses are used as small businesses along this corridor, and might be considered ripe for a tear-down: Jack's Mufflers on University between Mississippi and Alabama and A to Z Handyman next door on University.
Another house on University between Mississippi and Louisiana, which Pleasures & Treasures once occupied, had reverted to being a residential house. Pleasures & Treasures moved to a larger space at 2525 University Avenue between Arizona and Arnold. But this May, the dated wooden house again became a business, a MetroPCS phone store. With minimal parking, it seems an iffy location for that sort of business. Just east of that house, a palm-reading business located in a house at on University Avenue (across from Jack's Mufflers) for the past 40 years, continues to cater to a niche clientele.
Louisiana Purchase, a bar/restaurant from Grind and Prosper Hospitality, will soon open on the ground floor of The Louisiana apartments at University and Louisiana Street. As a gourmet himself, Thomas Jefferson might have approved of this second Louisiana Purchase. The restaurant will offer New Orleans cuisine and a full bar, in a woodsy and plants environment.
Architect Jeff Svitak said the eatery “should be ready end of August/September, I believe.” Svitak added that the Louisiana lofts “are all leased.” Existing ground floor businesses there are The Wineding Shoe- a Salon & Lounge, and Fivespace, which offers old vinyl records/cassettes and vintage clothing.
Rachel Cohen, co-owner with husband of Fivespace, said that their “move down the block [from near Carnitas Snack Shack] has helped us reach a more diverse group of customers.” She added: “We are excited for the improvements that are taking place on our block, and we look forward to seeing the corridor that connects North Park and Hillcrest thrive.”
Angela Landsberg, executive director of North Park Main Street, a business improvement district, is bullish, “Within the next six to eight months, there’s going to be a lot happening there.”
Landsberg said the former dive bar Tobacco Rhoda’s space will become a restaurant. At the corner of Villa Terrace and University, the infamous bar was closed in June 2016, pleasing local businesses who were fed up with crime there.
Landsberg stated there’s considerable interest, but property owners are demanding “top dollar” to sell out, she said.