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Charred Andorra Businesses Move Toward Reopening

Zoning board approves restoration of 8919 Ridge Ave. complex.

Nearly eight months in Andorra, four small businesses are on their way to recovery.

The Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment approved Wednesday plans for the previous businesses—, ,  and a tobacco shop—to return to the strip mall at 8919 Ridge Ave. in Andorra.

A fire , destroying the four businesses closest to Old Line Road. Though other entities continued operations, these four shops have been closed since.

"Right now, it's just a demolished site. We're just trying to get it back under control and for the businesses to reopen," attorney Hercules Grigos said. 

Constitution Bank owns the shopping center, originally erected in 1971. Although the four businesses already occupied the premises, zoning approval was needed for the use of a bingo hall. That facility is operated by nonfprofit group dedicated to Jewish war veterans. If the zoning code overhaul was in place, the business could be rebuilt by right (like the other shops) within three years. 

With the backing of Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. (D-4) and 21st Ward Democratic Leader Lou Agre, the ZBA unanimously voted in favor of the project.

Resident Tom Lederer has lived on adjacent Manatawna Road for 25 years. Although he didn't oppose project, he used the opportunity to discuss a problem he's experienced.

"In major events, the stormwater runoff from the rear driveway near Old Line Road completely washes out my driveway," he said.

Grigos said the property owners were amenable to working on the issue during construction. Lederer said in his time there, the shopping center complied with his requests.

"At one point, kids were hanging around there. After he alerted them, within a few days they installed a sign that said 'No Loitering, No Skateboarding," he said.

In addition, he requested they install shrubbery around the border instead of the existing wall, as graffiti is periodically a problem.

Although there's no timetable for reopening the businesses, Grigos said he assumed the owners would want to move the project along as fast as possible.

"They've been waiting with their businesses closed. So I imagine they want to move forward," he said.

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