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Watermill Condo Owners: Parking, Communication Issues at New Apartment Site

Manayunk Neighborhood Council withdraws support of apartment project on Water Mill Property

The Manayunk Neighborhood Council withdrew support Wednesday from an apartment expansion project due to a developer's inability to contact the residents at the Watermill Condos.

, the plan was to divide the property at 2 Leverington Ave. (at the end of Main Street in Manayunk) into two pieces—the Watermill Condos and a renovated apartment building at the current commercial site of . That would later be sold by Albert M. Greenfield & Co., Inc.

However, the plan never reached condo owners, who protested at the Philadelphia Zoning Adjustment Board in January. , and the  will hold a meeting Thursday with condo owners and developers in the hopes of reaching an agreement.

Matt DiGiulio, who works in commercial real estate, lives at Watermill and presented the condo owner's side to the Manayunk Neighborhood Council Wednesday night.

"We're trying to be pragmatic about it, and we're just looking for a voice at the table," he said.

The owners biggest logistical concern is parking. Though developers told MNC there is sufficient space, the owners disagree. By their estimate, there are 130 usable spaces, with 59 single spaces deeded to owners of two-bedroom units. DiGiulio said the space availability was a selling point in Manayunk, and many couples live there, often using two spaces.

Under the current plan, 36 spaces go to the 20 proposed apartments. Considering some of those units may have two residents, the condos owners estimated 40 cars could go into Manayunk—and that's in good weather, with snowdrifts and rain water often claiming other spots. MNC President Kevin Smith corroborated this account.

"Obviously, this has an immediate impact on parking," DiGiulio said. "If we don't have enough spots, there's going to be parking in the streets."

The owners propose only 20 parking spaces go to the tenants, which they say rewards the actual property owners and may give pause to potential renters.

If the deal goes through, 806 Capital will acquire the new property. Jeff Pustizzi, general counsel for the group, declined to comment to Patch Thursday before the meeting. Ron Patterson, attorney for the seller, did not return a call for comment.

The condo association's biggest sticking point is a lack of communication. According to DiGiulio, the property developer was barred from contacting condo owners due to an agreement with Greenfield. Since starting a conversation, 806 Capital, he said, "to their credit has been reasonable."

"I do think it can be a net-net win for everyone, but they tried to do it through the back door," he said.

The owners have retained a lawyer and are prepared to appeal zoning decisions on the local and state level. However, they said, they prefer to negotiate something amenable at the Thursday meeting.

For the civic group, their opinion is up in the air. After withdrawing support, the group is waiting for the meeting outcome to weigh in again.

MNC Vice President John Hunter said after the condo owners' facts emerged, turning the commercial property into a residency didn't seem so appealing.

"If he can't rent it, that's his problem," Hunter said.

Check back with Patch for updates on the Thursday meeting.

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