Giovannones Explain Bunting House Plans
Frank and Anthony Giovannone say they've gone back to the drawing board with their plans for the Bunting House site.
The Giovannone brothers met with the Wissahickon Interested Citizens Association on Wednesday to once again discuss their plans for the former site of the Bunting House.
“There’s no deal with Wendy’s,” Frank Giovannone told the association. “The plan we submitted was for a fast food restaurant, but the community is not in favor of that so we’re heading back to the drawing board.”
Association president Chip Roller suggested that the brothers take a look at building a mixed-use facility on the site. The suggested building would have retail on the bottom and apartments or condos on top.
“Mixed-use brings people to the area,” Roller said. “It helps give us a walk-able main street.”
Roller also said that the community is on edge because, as Roller saw it, the Giovannone brothers knocked down a historical house without a plan in place so now it’s just an empty lot and the building is gone.
Roller wanted to understand the process behind knocking down the building when nothing was immediately in place to replace it.
“Having that building there created a liability for us,” said Anthony Giovannone. “People found out it was abandoned so they started ripping the copper out, and we were afraid that there would be a fire.”
Frank Giovannone added that the brothers originally bought the building in 2011, and they had tried to maintain it.
“We own and have developed several historic homes,” Frank Giovannone said. “This was our first demolition permit we’ve had in 50 years of being in business.”
Frank Giovannone went on to say that he had trouble finding tenants for the home, and that offers to buy back the home weren’t economically feasible.
“We had offers to take the house off our hands, but they wanted to give us less than we paid for it,” Frank Giovannone said.
Both brothers insisted that they were willing to work with the community, and that they wanted to develop the site responsibly.
“Look, we live and work in this community,” Frank Giovannone said. “The site’s development is just as important to us as it is to other members of the community.”
The Giovannone brothers went on to say that have asked numerous restaurants and stores if they would be interested in moving into the site, but the size of the lot creates problem.
“A lot of people have suggested Olive Garden,” Frank Giovannone said. “But if you go to the Olive Garden’s website and look up their site requirements they need 1.5 acres and 150 parking spots.”
Frank Giovannone added, “Our site is 0.75 acres and we could get 30 or 40 parking spots on it if we’re lucky.”
According to Frank Giovannone, the businesses that have been asked but showed no interest because of the lot’s size include Trader Joe’s, Outback Steakhouse and Produce Junction.
“We tried to build a medical office there, but the Roxborough Hospital wasn’t interested in that either,” Frank Giovannone said.
Frank Giovannone added, “We’re going to do our best to find the perfect thing for this corner.”
To read more about the Bunting House and the proposal for a fast food restaurant please see the following links