By Juliet Martinez
At the June 14 community meeting, non-profit developer Community Builders gave Hazelwood a look at evolving designs for a four-story mixed-use building planned for the east side of the 4800 block of the Second Avenue business district.
The developer highlighted a small plaza with space for public art that would create the sense of a gateway into the neighborhood at the corner of Hazelwood and Second avenues. The retail spaces would be concentrated at that end of the building, while the residential entrance and lobby would be at the other end. A common room with a view of Mill 19 is designed for the fourth floor.
Rising construction costs and ongoing work on Second Avenue, including plans to widen it, caused the developer to abandon the small boutique store concept, shifting to two larger retail spaces that could be combined. They also changed the design to a four-story rather than a three-story building that now includes outdoor restaurant seating and space for a bus shelter on the right side of the building.
Even so, the designs were met with decidedly mixed reviews. The community has expressed strong support for the concept of first-floor retail with affordable housing above. However, several community members were critical of the building’s design.
Several meeting participants said they felt the design was not distinctive enough. Hazelwood resident Kris DiPietro said it looked like a parking garage rather than a design that melds the iconic past with the future of the neighborhood. She noted that in 1954, 15-year-old John Minadeo died while saving four children from being hit by a car at that intersection. His classmate Ella Cornelious also died.
Ms. DiPietro said these crucial local distinctions were not coming through. “It doesn't look to me as if [people would say] ‘Oh, wow! This is Hazelwood!’” she said.
As for the inside of the building, 33 of the 40 units will be for low- and moderate-income households, of which 20 to 24 will be supported by Section 8 funds, making the rents affordable to very low-income tenants. The remainder of the units will be market rate. The building design showed 34 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units. Meeting participants asked why there were no three-bedroom units for families.
“Why does it seem like they’re leaning towards moving families elsewhere than the neighborhood where they belong, and where they want to be?” Hazelwood native, Teaira Collins, asked. “I don't feel like you're looking out for the best interests of the families of Hazelwood.”
Senior project manager Vanessa Murphy answered that the developer did not think living on a busy street was the best location for families with young children.
“We believe this lot, given its context, really isn't best suited for young children in terms of needing to go outside and let off energy,” Ms. Murphy said.
Ms. Collins replied that she raised eight children on Hazelwood Avenue. “They were raised from birth, and there were no issues with green space or taking them somewhere to play or whatever, so I really don't think that's a good answer.”
Industrial Arts Workshop
Tim Kaulen, founder of the Industrial Arts Workshop, 5434 Herbert Way, spoke to the community meeting about the IAW metalworking summer program for high school students. Each summer, the students create a piece of public art through a process that begins with listening to the community where the piece will be installed. These conversations lead to developing concepts and prototypes, and finally the presentation of a finished piece to the community.
Mr. Kaulen said getting 15- to 18-year-olds involved in inventing and team building is a powerful thing to be part of.
“Especially coming out of the pandemic,” he said, “to get these kids together thinking and building is just, it's just a transformative moment at every point.”
Dana Wall, Hazelwood Local project manager, shared the event initiative’s news and summer lineup with the community meeting.
The summer movie series started with “Spiderman: No Way Home” in June, with food vendors, complimentary popcorn and free face painting. In July, catch “Encanto” and in August the original “Space Jam.”
The summer music series, with partner Weather Permitting, will bring different bands to Hazelwood Green Plaza, along with food and beverage vendors, and free activities for kids. Visit https://hazelwoodlocal.eventbrite.com for details on all future events.
A free shuttle will transport Hazelwood residents to the Plaza for the summer events. Sign up to reserve your spot on the shuttle at https://tinyurl.com/HazelwoodGreen-shuttle-signup. To hold an event on Hazelwood Green, go to https://tinyurl.com/HazelwoodGreenPermit-ShortForm to request a permit.
Hazelwood Initiative, Inc., publisher of The Homepage, is a community development corporation and a registered community organization. Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. does not profit by or receive compensation from contributors or organizations for mentions or links in Homepage articles.