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Grand Plans Ahead for Artesano Iron Works Expansion

Manayunk business wants to connect Cresson and Main Street properties.

What began as an upscale decorative furniture and sculpture studio has evolved into an additional catering business. And Manayunk's Artesano Iron Works wants to memorialize the business expansion with a physical one, as well. 

Artesano Iron Works forges functional wrought iron home goods and crafts high-end artwork and has been a Manayunk staple since 2000. Originally, the small studio was located on Gay Street and later expanded to its current space on Cresson Street.

With the recent acquisition of a Main Street property, the business hopes to continue expansion and link its two properties to create a catering option in its unique gallery.

Ivan Roa, partner and founder in Artesano Iron Works, says the business initially found success in crafting railings, doors and functional iron work, in addition to one-of-kind iron artwork. He and partner Jaime Kaplan added rescue wood furniture pieces to its offerings.

The true business evolution, however, emerged when Artesano Iron Works created a display showroom at its 4446 Cresson St. location. The unique artwork, hardwood floors and massive space naturally had the feel of a fancy banquet hall.

"It just sort of happened. We hosted a party for the showroom and people started talking about having other events here. It's a part of our business we never considered before," he said.

In 2008, the business received zoning permission to cater events. And after recently purchasing the former Mom's Pizza at 4457 Main St. (and adding 9,000 square feet), the business seeks permission to connect the properties.

"We just want to solidify it onto one business. We'll eliminate some walls and you'll be able to see (from Cresson Street) to Main Street," he said.

For a project like this, Artesano Iron Works needs zoning relief and is scheduled to meet with the Manayunk Neighborhood Council at its November meeting, according to civic Vice President John Hunter.

According to its zoning notice, Artesano Iron Works—in addition to the wall demolition and lot connection—seeks to build a roof deck. Offices, now located on Main Street, will be moved to newly constructed area, as well.

Parking in Manayunk always is the buzz word, but Roa believes in the company's plan. Already, he said they secured parking agreements with the Green Lane lot, in addition to the one off Carson Street.

With another location in Wayne, Artesano Iron Works, however, never considered leaving Manayunk permanently for the Main Line.

"We like the character of this town. We believe that this is the design district of Philadelphia and we love Manayunk," he said.

No Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing has yet been set. The MNC next meets Nov. 7 at the Manayunk Development Corporation.

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