Riverside doesn't get many chances at commercial redevelopment, and when they do come about, there always seems to be some sort of roadblock.
Whether it's St. Mary's swooping in to buy the former PNC Bank and taking it out of play for a larger downtown redevelopment, the inability to assemble parcels at Harlem and Longcommon or Loyola Medicine continuing to sit on an enormously valuable parcel at the corner of Harlem and Ogden, it never seems to come together.
So, it's breath-holding time now at Harlem and Burlington, where two separate parcels, across the street from one another, are about to come on to the market. Bank of America is shedding its branch at 3300 Harlem Ave., and with that move it will also seek to sell the parking lot south of East Burlington Street.
Both are ripe for redevelopment. The parking lot site, perhaps paired with the property immediately to the west, which has sat vacant and deteriorating for the past four years, is an even more inviting redevelopment target.
Of course, there would be some site remediation involved at the parking lot site. There's benzene in the soil, perhaps indicative of a former gas station, and it'll have to be removed if the site is dug up.
But if any sites are perfect for transit-oriented, mixed-use development the parcels at Harlem and Burlington come pretty darn close. Is this Riverside's shot at starting to remake its Harlem Avenue commercial districts?
Only time will tell.