10 days after Davidson Street Public House closed, what do we know about the empty space?

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Patrons stopping by Davidson Street Public House a week and a half ago hoping for some pork belly sliders and lollipop lamb chops were surprised to see the door padlocked and the Public House no more. The restaurant confirmed their closing via Instagram on May 1, with a photo of patio furniture in disarray and the words: “We would expect nothing less from our friends in the neighborhood. It was an abrupt end and a short run but we enjoyed our time with you in NoDa. We hope to serve you again soon, stay tuned.”

Ten days after the Public House closed its doors, what do we know about the empty space in the heart of NoDa?

The Davidson Street Public House property, which includes the restaurant and its adjacent parking lot, was rezoned in March to Transit Oriented Development for mixed-use. If the owners were to choose to tear down the Public House building or add on more than 25 percent of the structure, they would have to go through an additional rezoning.

Property owner Elizabeth Grillo, along with developer Miller Development Company, have announced plans to turn the parking lot next to the restaurant into an open-air arts market.

Photo by Alex Cason

The market would include up to a dozen open-air temporary structures, which could become permanent if the market is successful.

“Artisans in nature would encourage a creative vibe, and it would help restore the Arts District that has been eliminated due to gentrification,” Tom Miller of Miller Development Company told NoDa Neighborhood and Business Association members in February.

[Related: Is NoDa going through an identity crisis? Here’s how we keep NoDa, NoDa.]

Grillo said she envisions the arts market including not just visual arts but culinary arts as well. She said students from Johnson & Wales University and the culinary arts program at CPCC may be interested in showing off their talents in a place such as an arts market.

“The market space for culinary artists is a great incubator. Whether you’re young and you don’t have the money for bricks and mortar and a food truck, it’s a terrific incubator,” Grillo said in February.

“It doesn’t mean we have to have the same thing there all the time. I’d like to see it as something open all the time — lunch, dinner, late night — there will be something happening there.”

Performance art or music could also be part of the market, Grillo said.

“Just to have creativity there of some sort is art — it could be a poetry slam, a dance thing,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of space but we don’t necessarily need a lot of space to be a strong, beating heart place in the neighborhood.”

The market would operate separately from the restaurant, Grillo said. This week, she said a timeline for the arts market has not yet been set.

As for plans for the next restaurant to occupy the space formerly known as Davidson Street Public House, and before that Miyagi’s, Grillo said in February that the building’s side patio could be reconfigured to be more inviting, serving as an additional entrance for diners.

This week, she said no additional plans have been made for the restaurant’s space.

Change is abound on the entire block. Smelly Cat Coffeehouse’s owner, Cathy Tuman, has confirmed she was notified of the property owners’ plans to sell her coffee shop’s property; Smelly Cat has a lease until June 30, 2021, with an uncertain future at the location after that. The property consists of half an acre at the corner of North Davidson and East 36th Street and includes Revolution Ale House.

Additionally, the 14,000-square-foot building at the corner of North Davidson and East 35th Street and a duplex behind the building was purchased by private investors in March. That building houses Custom, Fu’s Custom Tattoos, Jeremy Igo Photography, Pura Vida Worldly Art, Ruby’s Gift and The Agency Marketing Group.

Before the rezoning, NoDa neighbors voiced concerns about losing more parking in an already-congested area.

At the zoning hearing in February, council member Braxton Winston voiced concerns about traffic.

“Even though we’re only taking away seven to eight parking spots, that could have an effect on a Friday or Saturday night,” he said. “Maybe that’s nothing we can deal with in this particular land-use decision, but we can’t not think about things as we continue to make decisions Monday to Monday.”

Featured photo: Alex Cason

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