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12 Single-Family Homes Set for Manayunk Ave.

Councilman's office says homes on Manayunk Avenue and Shurs Lane are permitted by right.

Developers have secured city permits to build 12 single-family homes in a currently vacant and hilly stretch above at Manayunk Avenue and below at Shurs Lane, the Office of City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. said.

Harman Deutsch Architecture received permission from the Department of Licenses and Inspections to divide two properties into 14 separate lots, according to an Oct. 2 permit. They will be located at the currently vacant 231 Shurs Lane and 4000 Manayunk Ave.

Joshua Cohen, special adviser to Councilman Jones, said he learned of the project, which he said is permitted by right, when researching a residential complaint about trees at what he thought-to-be a vacant property.

"They are combining lots to erect 12 single family homes with pilot houses, roof decks and interior parking stalls," he said.

Patch reached out to architect Rustin Ohler, the name listed on the permit, for comment on the project in September. Originally, the architectural firm agreed to an interview about the properties. However, it never secured permission from the owner—listed as Manayunk Ave Limited with a Richboro, PA, address—and Patch did not receive a response.

Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association President Andrew Bantly shared the news with residents at the group's September meeting. Because the project is permitted by right, he said, the ownership was not required to meet with the community.

Located below Manayunk Avenue, the space on Shurs Lane seems as if only unit can fit in. This forces the majority of the project to Manayunk Avenue, where parking is already restricted on that side of the road.

rich October 12, 2012 at 10:48 AM
It sounds like the residents are screwed again.They just building anywhere they find space.I will remember this come election time and i don't mean neighborhood council elections.
Julia October 12, 2012 at 11:22 AM
My initial reaction to this article is that this sucks. As a homeowner on Manayunk Avenue across the street from these proposed homes, I'm very concerned about the development of this land. When we purchased our home here a few years ago, we assumed this land was vacant as well based upon the topography. If you've ever peered over the guardrail at this stretch of land, you'd probably agree that calling it "hilly" is an understatement. What type of equipment that will be brought in to secure this land for development? Is this going to affect the homes on Dexter which back-up to the property? what about parking? As this article mentioned, the homes will have parking stalls and that side of Manayunk Avenue does not allow for parking. Like most people in this area, we have our parking problems. I cannot imagine how adding 14 homes will affect this. A few weeks ago, there was an article on the Patch about some Wissahickon neighbors looking into the possibility of permit parking. A lot of the overflow of cars from the streets mentioned in that article ended up on Manayunk and Kingsley Avenues. Its frustrating enough when Ostudents return to the area each fall and parking becomes non-existent, especially after a certain time of day. Adding these homes will make it even worse. Hopefully, like all the other development plans in the past, this one will not get started.
Debbie Thomas October 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM
When I pass by there I always figured 4000 Manayunk Avenue was safe from developers putting homes there. So much for that. I am convinced that they want to put houses on every spare piece of land in Manayunk. You know that 14 additional homes is going to equal 14 more parking spaces needed. The homes will have a garage but we all know everyone in a household has a car and some will park on the street. Roxborough and Manayunk are now at the point where there is OVER development. I don't live across from 4000 Manayunk. However, the street where I do live has a total of 21 new homes going up, and around the corner 4 will be built. That's 25 within 3 blocks. Traffic and parking will be an absolute nightmare. Well at least the green land in back of my house is safe......oh wait that's the same thing I thought about where they're putting these 12 houses.
P Middy October 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Here's a suggestion - ride your bike or take the bus to work. The 27 comes right down Manayunk Ave. to Center City. I'm not trying to be a smart ass - I used to drive everywhere and now I use my car 1-2 times per week max. I understand people's frustration about parking spots but, you do live in manayunk. Its kinda what you signed up for.
Debbie Thomas October 12, 2012 at 01:07 PM
I am not as frustrated with the parking and traffic as I am with too much development. Enough is enough. Can't the developers leave any green space and trees for the residents and future residents to enjoy? It's one of the reasons I moved here. If development continues it will be nothing but concrete and (mostly) ugly houses.
Julia October 12, 2012 at 01:14 PM
P Middy - I knew very well what we were getting into with parking when we chose to buy a house here. I have no problem walking a few blocks to my house if parking is not readily available. However, not everyone who lives in this neighborhood works in Center City as you mentioned or somewhere that is accessible by public transportation and need to drive. The 27 is great if you work in Center City or need to get down there. I agree with Debbie that traffic will be a nightmare. It'll be interesting to see the residents of these new homes trying to back out or whatever of their "parking stalls" while either the 27 is coming down the street or yet another vehicle flies through the stop signs at a high rate of speed. And, Debbie, I wish you best as those new homes are built near you.
Moe October 12, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I feel sorry for the howeowners on Manayunk Ave. It seems like every green space in 19127/28 is being wiped out for more housing regardless of the lay of the land.
Debbie Thomas October 12, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I bet a majority of these developers live way outside the city with nothing around them and acres of land. But they don't mind jamming houses together in a neighborhood already oversaturated with new construction.
John C. Manton October 12, 2012 at 02:42 PM
In order to build anything on that extremely steep parcel of land, it will of course be necessary to level it first. The only plausible way in which to level this land would be with the construction of an enormous retaining wall, preferably with weep holes. This retaining wall, like any other structure built in the past, will eventually age and fail, thus resulting in its collapse onto whatever houses or buildings then existing below. If I was a lawyer in the future, I would see a money-making law suit of gargantuan proportions here. Any future lawyers around at the time when that retaining wall collapses, will be dancing with joy at the stupidity of its 21st builders. We could even put the Wissahickon Creek in a conduit, fill in the entire valley and build all over it. The city wants to get rid of Fairmount Park land anyway. -- jcm.
Ed Turner October 12, 2012 at 04:05 PM
As a resident of the 4000 block of Dexter St. whose house's back patio abuts this "hilly" plot of land, this decision doesn't just anger me, it terrifies me. My wife and I just had a daughter and are constantly talking about the merits of staying in this great neighborhood; up until now, parking and the occasional obnoxious knucklehead returning from Main St. were the only cons. Now, for our own safety and sanity, we have to move. This proposed construction will no doubt disrupt and inconvenience us to such a degree that moving is necessary. Our district's leaders once again have put the interests of developers and potential renters over hardworking, taxpaying residents. I'll miss my block.
Debbie Thomas October 12, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Ed, if I were in your situation I would do the same thing. It seems like there's a lot that the people in Curtis Jones' office find out by "accident" and aren't aware of. I would like to know why this wasn't presented to the residents who, like yourself, will be affected. It was the same thing with the Bunting House. Josh Cohen and Curtis Jones didn't know the developer planned to demolish it. Seems like our council person isn't representing his constituents and keeping them up to date about what is going on. As a taxpayer this makes me angry. Maybe Curtis Jones and his assistant Josh Cohen should regularly check with L&I about housing permits, demolition permits and the like. After all our taxes are paying their salaries.
Kevin October 12, 2012 at 06:34 PM
As a homeowner who lives very close to these proposed homes; I welcome their construction as well as the addition of new young professionals to our community. The lots on Manayunk Ave are an overgrown eyesore and really don't qualify as high value green space.
Julia October 12, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Ed- my husband, neighbor and I have looked down at this "hilly" plot of land and discussed how building there would affect you guys down on Dexter Street. As much as we are not looking forward to headaches of cobstruction or the loss of our view, I cannot imagine how nervous and concerned you must be at this news. I wish you and your wife the best and pray that this proposed development falls through as my neighbor said others have in the past.
Josh Cohen October 12, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Debbie, I dont necessarily disagree with you. I wish L&I would let us know when a permit for a major project is pulled in our district and variances are not needed. It would help us tremendously. However, L&I doesnt give us that courtesy. We are going to see more and more of these "by right" projects because of the new zoning code. There was plenty of opportunity for community feedback so I hope you expressed your concerns during the many forums held in the neighborhood. However, to say Councilman Jones isnt "representing his constituents and keeping them up to date" is innaccurate. We are constantly providing updated informatoin to constituents through sources like Patch almost on a daily basis. Furthermore, we have an office on Ridge Ave that is open 6 days a week. Please stop by and I will be happy to chat with you about projects in the neighborhood.
Debbie Thomas October 12, 2012 at 07:58 PM
I'm not quite sure what "by right" means. If there is a new zoning code, is there a place on the Phila.gov site where I can read through it?
Sam Fran Scavuzzo (Editor) October 12, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Hi Debbie. Let me take a crack at explaining it. Properties have specific zoning distinction. If someone wants to go outside of what is allowed for a property, then they need a variance, which is granted by the zoning board of adjustment (ZBA)—Usually, that's when developers present to a civic group. However, if they own a property and want to do something permitted (like building 12 homes on property zoned for residential property), then they don't need a zoning variance and don't need the ZBA (or neighborhood's) permission. "By right" of what is legal, they can develop their property. All they have to do is pay for building permits and can go ahead. Here's a link to to Zoning Matters, which explains the new code. http://zoningmatters.org/
Josh Cohen October 12, 2012 at 08:09 PM
It all depends on the project. The zoning code is included in the city code which is on the front page of the city website.
jim October 13, 2012 at 12:10 PM
How about all you yuppie douchebags get out of the neighborhood?
Renee_C October 15, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Ed, I hate that this is happending to our old block. That hill is so steep and there is not that much room back there to build. I feel for you, Erin, and the other neighbors. Our district's leaders are definitely thinking of the money aspect of the build, rather then how the people of this great neighborhood feel. It's a shame.
Renee_C October 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM
So sam, you're telling me that the City does not own that property along Manayunk Ave? Some developer owns it? I always thought it was City owned.
Sam Fran Scavuzzo (Editor) October 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Correct, it's privately owned. And without the need for a zoning variance, citizens (including the councilman, civic organizations or groups like the Roxborough Development Corporation), don't really get a say unless they file an appeal in court.
Renee_C October 15, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Wow, I never knew that.
Debbie Thomas October 15, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I was reading the new zoning code this weekend. From what I got out of it, it makes it much easier for a developer to sidestep all of the above that Sam mentioned. In other words it doesn't matter if people and organizations object, they'll build it anyway.
Roni October 15, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Sorry, we didn't sign up for any of this... my family has been in Manayunk since the 30's. This is before every single row home was filled with more college kids than should be living in them... with 4 cars per house. How about this... leave your car at your parents house and don't store them on the street and take your public transportation! So before you assume people wanted this chaos remember... this was a community... not a college campus!!! We tried to fight the developers over and over... but since this area is the tax base of the city, there is no way quality of life is taken into consideration. Every space in this neighborhood is being developed. What ever happened to Green Space?
jaycc February 23, 2013 at 09:58 PM
What does this do to the row homes on Manayunk Avenue ? Are there zoning rules for the height of these buildings ? looking at the slope how are they going to build 11 3000 sq foot houses on this space ? is the house by the bridge being torn down ?
Bill Smith October 03, 2013 at 02:14 PM
That job site is a disaster. One of our neighbors who have lived on Manayunk Ave. believe the ground is fuel contaminated from people dumping trash and discarded oil from neighborhood residents doing their own oil changes. No ground water samples tested. Non union site with illegal workers. The foreman knocks on neighbors doors to have them move cars for their worktrucks. Totally ridiculous. City doesn't care and unions are busy fighting the Prestronk Bros.

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