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May 29, 2024

Timeline for construction of Olmsted remains unknown

By STEFANIE BENCA | May 7, 2007

The developers responsible for the construction of Charles Commons and the Village Lofts have no set start date for their latest project, the Olmsted Condominiums.

Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse (SBER) has not yet established a date for the opening of Cloud 9 Clothing or Cold Stone Creamery, while the University Market, previously known as Uni Mini, is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, May 1, at 6 a.m.

This is a disappointment to the 175 confirmed attendees of an event, publicized through Facebook, titled "The Return of Uni Mini" which pegged the opening hour at midnight May 1.

"I was walking by on Friday and was peeking into the windows to see how far along they were and the guy told me to come in. So I spoke with the owner and we asked when Uni Mini was opening and he said May 1st for sure," said sophomore Caitlin Pizzonia, who publicized the event.

University Market owner Sam Hamiden assured that the store will return to its normal 24-hour service.

"The store is a little larger and will be more of a convenience. Also there will be a new gyro machine that the students will love. I know the students are in love with the chicken parm right now," Hamiden said. Another change is the switch from flat-grilled to charbroiled hamburgers. Hamiden promises that the same employees will return and the prices will be unaffected.

The empty lot across from the Village Lofts is SBER's next project in Charles Village. The Olmsted is slated to be built there, and will house 107 condominium units combined with over 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The project has experienced delays because of the need to be approved by Charles Village and the city.

"The long-term goal is to help realize the vision of the Charles Village community. There is a great desire from the community to have more retail options," said Bob Rubenkonig, vice president and Director of Marketing and Communications at SBER.

A revision had to be made to the previous agreement due to the community's desire to have more retail space. Thus, SBER is still in the planning stage as they look for more retail in a manner that will minimize any negative on the community.

Royal Farms and Shops at Homewood, which were previous retailers on the lot, hold "letters of understanding" that secure a space in the new building if they so desire. Although the names of retailers were not disclosed, it was suggested that a wine bar and a caf?? will likely be included in the new businesses.

"There is no starting date set yet," Rubenkonig said. "However, it will take 22 to 24 months to complete the construction portion of the project. We're shooting to get it going in 2008. It depends on our other current projects as well."

The Olmstead is not targeted toward students.

"The mass appeal is to couples with empty nests, professors and urban professionals. It will not be much different from the Village Lofts in terms of retail and occupancy," Rubenkonig said.

SBER is also the developer of the newly built Village Lofts, which include 12,500 square feet for retail and 68 for-sale condominiums, and opened for occupancy in January 2007. Despite rumors of disinterest from potential buyers, an anonymous salesman at the Village Lofts office suggested otherwise, although he was, as of yet, unable to give specific numbers.

"We're selling a lot actually - just not as much as anyone would like but that's just the market right now," he said.

Rubenkonig explains that the starting price of the condominiums are in the $200,000 range, adding that those are the ones that have been selling the quickest.

"We're pleased with our pace [of sale]. The rumor of unpopularity is untrue. We are pleased with our sales. They are not 'gang bust' sales because that's the market," he said.

SBER is also actively developing properties in Boston, Durham, Nashville and a handful of other American cities.

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