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Manayunk Ave. Could Get 1 More Rental Unit

Developers avoid opposition from Manayunk civic group.

Despite its usual aversion to increased rental units, a local civic organization voted to not oppose one new apartment unit in Roxborough.

Edward and Chris Topolewski propose changing the first-floor commercial property at 4134 Manayunk Ave. into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit. The Manayunk Neighborhood Council Wednesday night decided it won't protest the case when it goes before the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment.

"In general, we don't support more rental units, but when we do, in cases like this, we vote nonopposition" as opposed to approval, MNC President Kevin Smith said. The property falls within both the MNC and Central Roxborough Civic Association's boundaries, and Smith said the latter group deferred to the MNC on it.

Located at Manayunk and Jamestown streets, the corner lot exists as a three-story building and separate garage, which has a second floor apartment. Already, zoning permits apartments on the two second-floor and one third-floor units. The Topoleski proposal only changes the commercial space into a residential one.

"To confirm with the neighborhood, we want to have it as a residential property. It's a tough location to make into a successful commercial business," Chris Topolewski said.

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The developers told the civic association that it has a policy that requires proof of employment in order for someone to rent the space. Edward Topolewski said he inspects the property weekly for trash and cleanliness compliance. If tenants become a problem, neighbors can personally call him.

"If they are not good tenants, we'll get rid of them. We are not absentee landlords," Chris Topolewski said.

Edward Topolewski added: "We don't farm this out to an outside management company."

Residents at neighboring and nearby properties raised issues with parking and noise.

"It's not a good site for a commercial business because of the parking, and we have a problem with that 24/7," one resident said.

The developers countered that commercial unit brings cars to the block. Also, the lease places a limit that only two people may live there.

A neighbor at the attached property said noise from former tenants caused him to install soundproof buffers at his home. However, since the Topolewskis took over, there hasn't been a problem.

Check back with Patch to see how the case does before the ZBA when a hearing date is scheduled.

Roxborough Area Man September 06, 2012 at 02:43 PM
They vote "...nonopposition.."? WTF does that mean? I am all for civic groups influencing policies - better a true grassroots power than astroturf, to be sure - but where does this group get off infringing on property rights? So long as code is met a landowner should be allowed to do anything to their property they desire. The civic group should work WITH property owners, and offer incentives to sway the property owner should that owner plan something that the civic group disagrees with - but that civic group should have NO power beyond influence and ensuring code and laws are enforced. We need high-quality apartments to attract young professionals - and many of those young professionals, if they are welcomed to the neighborhood, will stay and purchase a home later on. If all we have a substandard apartments and $500,000 houses, we will lose the middle-class that is the bedrock of a good community.
Sam Fran Scavuzzo (Editor) September 06, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Hi Roxborough Area Man. I'm sorry—should have been more clear in my article and I hope this explanation helps. The MNC often opposes plans to add more multi-family units to Manayunk, not always, but often. When a developer approaches them with something that neighbors don't have major problems with (like this one), the group has a precedent to vote "nonopposition." They don't want to hold up the process by outwardly standing in the way of project. However, they want it on record that they don't support it either. Maybe the civic can explain it better than that, but I hope that clears up any unclear aspects of my article.
Roxborough Area Man September 06, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Thanks, appreciate the clarification. Sounds like bullying to me though. As an aside, do they ever approve apartments?
Sam Fran Scavuzzo (Editor) September 06, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I think it varies. They have a reputation as be obstructionist (and I'm sure some businesses would agree with that). However, a quick search through recent article yielded me several projects they either "approved" or voted not to oppose. 4570 Silverwood St.—http://patch.com/A-w8ZK 104 Roxborough Ave.*—http://patch.com/A-tZRk A few at 4100 Cresson St.—http://patch.com/A-smtX
richard castrovillo September 06, 2012 at 03:29 PM
4 apartments on cresson st using 100% of the land, 33 signatures opposing and stiil the mnc approved. Proper bros building approved for apartments which had no onsite parking .approved. MNC DOES SUPPORT RENTALS
richard castrovillo September 06, 2012 at 03:41 PM
these 2 guys are going about this the right way and cant get support from the council and neighborhood for 1 apartment.. some homes have 4-6 people per house on manayunk av .

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