In a simple math equation, Wissahickon residents were tasked to choose between 14 homes or 50 condos.
With a condo project already approved, residents got the chance Monday to demonstrate their preference between condos or homes on Terrace Street at the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association meeting.
Representing several parties, attorney Ronald Patterson and developer Glenn Falso floated two ideas for the demolition and transformation at 3818-3832 Terrace St. to residents at Pilgrim Church Monday night:
- An already approved condo project, which calls for 50 units—some one-bedroom, some two—with 50 spaces for each unit. It's a "minimalist" design, with some units under 1,000 square feet; or
- Fourteen, four-story rowhomes, each with off-street parking for two cars along both Terrace and Sharp Streets. This, however, requires variances. The homes will sell for "high $500,000, low $600,000."
Without officially endorsing it, neighbors favored the homes.
What's There Now?
Largely vacant, the property is the old Terrace Hall. It's zoned as light industrial, and only has Katz Glass Design as a tenant. If variances are approved, Patterson said the four-bedroom townhomes would attempt to blend into the block's residential zoning, with exceptions for building height.
Falso represents a group that has the property under agreement from its current owners, Terrace Street Associaties. The group deferred to him to decide how to develop it, with Falso advocating homes verses condos.
"I do not feel 50 condos is right for the neighborhood. All I see is young kids, young kids, young kids," he said, not meaning toddlers.
Falso develops almost exclusively in the Roxborough-Manayunk area. Unlike an earlier presenter who failed to accomadate parking, Falso's plan at least considers the situation on Terrace and Sharp streets.
Civic President Andrew Bantly said street parking is lost with either development project—so it's more of a question on how much is added.
Kicking The Tires
Developers wanted to float the idea to neighbors prior to purchasing the property. This "kicking-the-tires" approach, as Bantly called it, was welcomed by most, but residents feared appearing too eager.
Though residents didn't vote, and therefore officially endorse the home plan, Bantly took the room's pulse and will offer developers a favorable opinion. Despite some civic members advocating a vote, most neighbors wanted more concrete plans in place prior to supporting the new plan.
"They now have a sense that we are not totally against the 14 homes. And, they'll have to come back. They still need a ZBA hearing... I don't want to finalize any stuff until it's concrete," Bantly said, referencing a Kingsley Street development project that has slowly moved due to a lack of developer plans.
Following a question from civic member Andrew Payne, the developers said they could still pursue the condo project, even if neighbors favored the homes. Patterson said the condo permit is valid through July 2013. Payne said this made holding off on a vote all the more important.
"If we give them the go-ahead now, in a sense, they get everything they want and still maintain the option for 50 units... We lose the ability for them to come to us later, where we can say, 'This is what we want, and we'll approve it,'" he said.
Developers must make a decision on the property by April 15, or the transaction dies.