Pictured here are a couple of nice historic brick buildings located at 272 Virginia, that were recently purchased by real estate agent Carmelo Parlato. Originally, Parlato, a young lower West Side enthusiast, was simply going to find a buyer for the buildings, but after taking a closer look, he decided that the forlorn structures could use a motivated owner. By “motivated”, I mean someone who could see the true potential of a number of interior spaces that have been languishing for years.
Already Parlato has been restoring the upper floor of the buildings (inset left). The reason that I say “floor” is that the two buildings are attached. Downstairs it’s the same story, however in this case, the narrow building to the west will be its own entity. “I have someone who wants to put a diner in that narrow space (inset right),” Parlato told me. “It’s going to be small, but it will be very quaint.” I agree with Parlato, that the space would make a very cool diner. Just think back to how Pano got his start on Elmwood, in a tiny little diner across the street from JP Bullfeathers. The Virginia diner is about the same size.
If you’re trying to picture where this building is, it’s just down the street from Betty’s Restaurant, close to Niagara Street. In 2014, Nickel City Crossfit opened across the street. The neighborhood is in a state of transition, and has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over the years, and while there are additional efforts that must be made to lift up this area, tackling this corner building project could be one of the most beneficial ways to do so. Just think back to what Betty’s did for that neighborhood.
With the smaller of the two commercial spaces spoken for, Parlato is now looking to solidify a second business for the larger corner location. At this time there is a sewing operation in that space, which Parlato acknowledges doesn’t require a storefront of this nature. “I would love to get a retailer in here, and restore the windows on this storefront,” said Parlato. “With a diner on one side, and another retailer on the corner, this could be a very attractive and productive building.”
As Parlato pondered the possibilities for the corner, I couldn’t help but get excited about the future of this building, and what it could do for the neighborhood. Of course, only the right type of retail would thrive on this corner – maybe a bike repair shop, a refugee-owned business (West Avenue is home to many Burmese), or some other unique destination shop.
“I’ve even imagined the corner being an old school restaurant,” Parlato added. “One that you might find in NYC, with white table clothes, professional waiters (picture white aprons), a scaled down gourmet menu…. a neighborhood restaurant. I like being able to make your neighborhood… there is so much potential here, and I believe that this building could help to bring about positive change.”
If you have an idea that you feel would work on this corner, click here.