1707 Fifth Avenue. Rendering courtesy of Indovina Associates Architecture.

After decades of neglect, momentum has shifted in the relatively small Uptown neighborhood between Downtown and Oakland. A new $10 million, 51-unit apartment building is coming to 1707 Fifth Avenue, currently one of the neighborhood’s many surface parking lots.

The 55,000-square-foot building is being developed by McAllister Equities, the same group currently constructing two eight-unit apartments in the neighborhood. It has always seemed like an obvious place to build, to McAllister Equities partner Michael McAllister, who lives there.

“You can be in the Hill District, Oakland, the South Side — it’s just such a nice central location and jumping-off point for getting around the city,” says McAlllister, who is founder of Urbanist, a mapped guide to the city. He works Downtown and can walk or bike there, he adds.

Designed by Indovina Associates Architects, the red brick building has an industrial look that’s inspired by nearby warehouses. It’s being built under the guidelines of the Uptown EcoInnovation District. Eco-friendly technologies are planned throughout, including a green roof, bike parking and energy-efficient windows. Plans for a Bus Rapid Transit corridor through Uptown are also being taken into account.

“We really wanted to build something that felt substantial and timeless,” says McAllister. “A lot of the multifamily (apartments) built in the city have a feeling that they have been built in a certain time. We want to do the opposite of that as long-term owners. My partner (and cousin) Brendan McAllister says it best, ‘I want to be able to drive my kids by the building in 20 years and still feel proud of it.’”

The neighborhood’s many vacant lots and parking lots make it kind of “a blank canvas” in places, he notes.

“It’s exciting to be able to breathe new life into some of these commuter-focused parking lots, and bring people back into the neighborhood, as residents and business owners,” he adds.

1707 Fifth Avenue will feature several types of units, from loft-style studios with garage doors to more traditional one- and two-bedroom options. Features and amenities include a gym, private terraces and balconies, keyless entry, kitchens with quartz countertops, in-unit laundry and handcrafted built-in shelving.

The plan is to also feature ground-level retail.

“We really wanted things to be neighborhood-focused,” says McAllister. “We look at some of the larger developments that are happening in Lawrenceville and the East End, and the retail bays are built for large national-type outfits. We want (to go) the opposite direction. We’re looking at finding someone to bring in neighborhood-scale retail, on a local, independent basis, to complement what’s already in motion over here, like Hapa and Z-Best Barbecue. We want to add something complementary to that mix. A coffee shop would be a great opportunity.”

The pandemic hasn’t slowed down the project. They plan to break ground this summer and finish up next summer or in the early fall of 2021. Rents, which will be market-rate, have yet to be determined, McAllister says.

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.