Everything was set, except for the parking.
The Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association decided Monday to delay a vote on 45 new Main Street apartments at an abandoned factory—rather than oppose it—to allow the developer to come up with more parking spaces.
Scott Janzen and Peter Bloomfield propose transforming three buildings at the former Wilde Yarns Factory—the triangular corner of Main Street and Ridge Avenue—into new apartments with 41 parking spaces on site, and 12 spots on Main Street.
Factory to Apartments
With historically sensitive design schemes in place, the developers say the project removes a blighted part of Main Street and improves Manayunk as a whole.
"We love those old buildings and want to clean them up and make them look as they were in 1884... It's part of the continued Renaissance at that end of Manayunk," Bloomfield said, adding they are in the process of adding the property to the National Historic Register—which both preserves the property and gives them a tax break, according to civic President Andrew Bantly.
Located across the street from the United Artists' Main Street 6 and below Little Cresson Street off of Ridge Avenue, the property largely exists away from residents. Three buildings will be linked by second-floor connections and a new lobby buildings is planned. The developers will also pave and light part Little Cresson Street, the private drive.
While civic association members appreciated the detailed designs and largely agreed the buildings would improve Manayunk, one major concern exist—parking.
The developers plan for three studio, 27 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom apartments—totaling 60 bedrooms. Zoned industrial, Bloomfield and Janzen need the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment to approve residential use.
You Had Me Until Parking
Bantly said developers originally proposed 29 parking spots, and later upped it to 41. They are said they are in talks with PhillyCarShare. Residential zoning, under the old zoning code (as this will fall under), requires a one-to-one unit to parking space ratio, and while neighbors prefer a space for every bedroom, the project lacks that one-to-one.
"The idea is great. I think you did a good job. But you totally missed the boat on parking," Anna Kirmes said.
WIth rents set higher—one-bedroom, $1,300, two-bedrooms $1,800—the developers intend on attracting a young professional crowd. Rachel Wexler agreed that could happen, but it could also bring college students whose parents pay rent.
"I think it's good, too, but the college kids we get here sometimes, St. Joe's, they come from wealthier background," she said.
The fear is that students will stack the apartments beyond legal limit—and jam their cars on Main Street or on smaller neighborhood streets.
Bloomfield said their research indicates their all tenants won't all have cars. The neighbors weren't buying it, and were afraid those cars will creep from Main Street onto their blocks.
"The concern is that you have people up here who are forced to park on Main Street or however far just to get home at night. You have to park your car somewhere. You have to go home," Bantly said.
Additionally, civic member Margaret Small requested some information on how the developers will become part of the neighborhood after they renovate the properties.
"I'm a fan of a new construction as it revitalizes our area... but we never hear what will come back to our community after the fact," she said.
Bantly will approach the developers and let them know the neighbors require, at minimum, one-to-one parking and some information on how they intend on aiding the neighborhood.
The Manayunk Neighborhood Council and Manayunk Development Corporation also have the opportunity to weigh in.