Fishtown

Working with councilman's office to meet this goal

Quite recently, a member of the Fishtown Neighbors Association got annoyed while trying to cross York Street. The street is wider than most, with angled parking. At intersections it can be pretty hard to for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians to see. Sometimes cars drive side by side, creating two lanes where only one exists. At some stop signs, drivers routinely don't know exactly where to stop. So she started asking around, according to FNA zoning chair Matt Karp.

Big ol' E. York Street

She called Councilman Squilla's office to find out what could be done. Squilla's office then called the Streets Department. And so a project began to improve the street painting and signs along E. York Street. These improvements will make things safer and clearer, as increased Fishtown development brings more and more pedestrians, bikers, and drivers into the neighborhood.

So the FNA gathered with the Streets Department, Squilla's office, and the Olde Richmond Civic Association and “we just talked about the issue,” Karp said. ORCA collected comments from members and community residents on its Facebook page.

And the community is crowd-sourcing ideas

Next to Fishtown, neighbors are in the process of improving a disjointed and neglected block. Moyer Street runs through Fishtown and then dead-ends at Aramingo Avenue. And then it reappears, running for about a block until it disappears again when it hits E. Cumberland Street. The Moyer Street Project will rehab the currently rough stretch between Aramingo Avenue and E. Hagert Street.

Small stretch of Moyer Street

Aside from general beautification, improvements will include repaving, new street lines, a bike lane, a dog run, and public art by a local artist celebrating the neighborhood's history, according to community association board member Mike McCullough, who has spearheaded the project. This fall there will be a larger community meeting to discuss the project further. Most recently, the Olde Richmond Civic Association put out a survey to collect community input about how to beautify this block, according to McCullough. About a year and a half ago he took a walk down this block with another ORCA board member to assess the situation. “It's a gateway to the neighborhood,” McCullough said. “It's an eyesore but it's definitely correctable.”

1500 block is blowin' up

Any casual observer has surely noticed the trajectory of the Frankford Avenue commercial corridor in recent years. New buildings have appeared, almost overnight. Countless new businesses have opened, increasing amenities in the neighborhood. And there's more coming. But today we check in on two big projects on the 1500 block of Frankford Avenue which we first told you about last year. Even though they're still under construction, you can get a decent idea of what they'll look like when they're done. And if your imagination stinks, we have drawings that we can share.

1512-18 Frankford Ave.

1512-18 Frankford Ave. was previously a parking lot with metal gate frontage. Today you can see three new buildings have been framed out. The project comes from Carmel Developments, a group that's done a couple of other projects on Frankford Avenue in the past. Like the others, this one, which will include fourteen apartments and ground-floor retail, is designed by Harman Deutsch.

Fishtown Social approved by the ZBA

Frankford Avenue is poised for another addition, at an intersection that's seen some dramatic improvement in recent years. When we last checked in at the location where Oxford Street hits Frankford Avenue back in November, Sulimay's Urban Salon had just opened its doors at 1600 Frankford Ave.

Salon opened in November

Remember, this building experienced a major renovation a couple years ago, and the salon was the exclamation point on the project. The renovation across the street, at 1546 Frankford Ave., happened just last year. In the months that have rolled by since we last visited, a Pennsylvania SPCA satellite location has opened here.

The community doesn't like the plan

Developers want to build a small apartment building in Fishtown but the neighbors aren't feeling it. A couple months back, developers presented plans at an FNA community meeting to demolish the the H.J. Masonry warehouse at 1217 E. Columbia Ave. and replace it with a new building with eight apartments and six parking spots. The parcel is about 3,200 sqft in size but is only zoned for single-family use.

Recent view of the property

By right, the developers could subdivide the lot into two smaller lots and build two homes. And it seems that's what the community would prefer, as they voted 50 opposed to 4 in support at their meeting. According to zoning chair Matt Karp, "the community stated it was not interested in a multi family use... there really is no hardship shown for why they can't just build on the lot as zoned." Karp went on to state that "the neighbors preferred single family homes as those are in character to the area."

Looking at it from the other direction

We'll be curious to see whether the ZBA sides with the developers or the community on this one. On the one hand, we're not sure we see the hardship. The developers could certainly build two homes, though they would have ridiculously large rear yards due to the square footage of the property.

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