Timbergrove resident Bryan Danna with Revive Development has been aware of the dearth of retail and restaurant options in Oak Forest for some time. He also knows his way around a successful development. He’s been working in the Leader area since 2006 and has an extensive resume with tenants like Hugs & Donuts, KA Sushi, Southern Goods, Lola, the Shepherd Park Draught House and Pink’s Pizza.
So the news that he has purchased three spaces on the southwest corner of 34th and Ella – the 34th Street Stop and Shop, the building which houses the Surfhouse and Houston Panini & Provisions and the tire shop – has created a lot of excitement among residents.
The properties had for a long time been owned by the McClendon family. The Surfhouse has been at their location for more than 40 years. Other tenants back in the day included the Bamboo Lounge, a bakery, Oak Forest Lawn Mower Shop and Leo’s Flowers, long gone now. At the Stop and Shop, Ricardo’s Barbershop, T-Shirt Works and Chris’ Alternations and Dry Cleaning are some of the current businesses.
Danna, who also did the Resource One Credit Union development on 43rd St., said that the rise in real estate prices in the Heights coupled with the needs he saw in Oak Forest, spurred him to acquire the almost 2-acre parcel. His plans for the space are ambitious.
A rendering on Revive’s website shows parking along Ella with buildings along the south and west. Danna said he’s keeping the gas station kiosk near the existing tire shop as a design element and also the L-shaped building that is currently the Stop and Shop although he says he’ll be adding a clerestory to provide additional light.
The building where Surfshop and Houston Panini & Provisions sit will be torn down, but that doesn’t mean that Danna wants to lose them as tenants.
“I’ve been going to the Surfhouse since I was 12,” he said. “We’d love to see them stay.”
David Colby, co-owner and chef, with Houston Panini & Provisions tells The Leader they’d like to make it work to stay in the new complex too and are looking for investors to help make it happen.
“We’re going to ride this spot until the wheels fall off,” he said, acknowledging that the low rent in their existing space was a gift that gave them a low start-up cost and allowed them to build a reputation in the neighborhood. Now they are putting together a business plan for a “bigger and better” future.
Colby’s father Rudolph Colby is an architect who designed Backstreet Café and Hugo’s among other projects. He is going to help with their new location, wherever that may be.
As for other occupants, Danna said that the demographics in the area have changed dramatically and this drives the need for new kinds of tenants in the development. He said he invites contributors to suggest retail tenants that residents feel are missing from the neighborhood.
Danna is going to take his time to find the right mix of tenants, both local and national. One of them will occupy the anchor space in the southwest corner of the center, which will be a restaurant. He says that there will be a 1,300 square foot patio and notes that since the sun sets behind the building, the outdoor space will be a pleasant place to hang out.
He estimates construction to be complete by late 2016. Stay tuned for tenant news.