Earlier this year, Philadelphia developer Liz Solms proposed building a 37-room, $10 million boutique hotel in Bywater. Dubbed the “Sun Yard,” the project would have occupied more than 1.5 times the 10,000 square feet permitted by the neighborhood’s zoning. After community members spoke out against the plan and gathered more than 3,000 signatures on a petition against the development, the City Planning Commission rejected the hotel on the grounds that it was “out of scale with the neighborhood,” according to reporting by nola.com.
That was five months ago. So what’s happening at 3000 St. Claude Avenue now? And what does the future hold for the corner of Bywater that Solms describes as “four Creole cottages, a funky midcentury building ... and a lush lot”?
In August, Solms converted the green space and collection of 19th-century cottages into studios for more than 15 artists. She declined to state the exact cost of the “below market,” sliding-scale rents. Solms recruited tenants quietly, mostly via word of mouth, and the space is now completely leased.
“We reached out to our list of neighbors who were both in support and opposed to the Sun Yard,” Solms said. “A lot of folks sent people my way. A lot of people didn’t write back, but just as many opponents as proponents wrote me back.”
Tenants include Jason Christopher Childers, Brian St. Cyr, Sean Fader, Ana Hernandez, Marta Maleck, Christopher Saucedo, Patch Somerville, Dan Tague, Ashley Teamer. Theater company Goat in the Road Productions, art collective Level and gallery The Jungle Lounge also lease offices there.
“All their art ranges in medium—I think it’s cool that different types of art are being made out of those spaces,” Solms said.
Tenants moved into the buildings in July, August, and September, signing two-year leases.
“We are unsure of the permanent future of the land and building,” Solms said. “We wanted to offer the two-year leases so we could continue to explore more permanent options.”
What might those permanent options look like?
“We don’t have anything concrete to share,” Solms said. “There are a lot of ideas swirling. Right now, we’re happy and feel copacetic. It makes me feel good that there’s a hive of productivity coming out of these spaces.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with correct information. A previous version incorrectly stated that the project would have occupied more than four times the 10,000 square feet permitted by the neighborhood’s zoning. Curbed regrets the error.