The much ballyhooed South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S meeting on Monday mostly featured aggrieved members of the community aggressively ranting against development, with little discussion of zoning issues. Oh, and we think that many of the votes were unceremoniously snatched by a particularly passionate person who lives in the neighborhood.
The individual (who shall remain nameless) also gave us a shout out at the meeting! Score!
Last Monday, South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S Inc. organized a community zoning meeting, originally scheduled (but subsequently cancelled) for the week prior. On the agenda were seven projects for neighborhood residents to learn about, consider, and vote for or against. As many media outlets reported last week, the meeting rapidly went off the rails and the only project discussed was OCF Holdings' proposal for a mixed use building on Point Breeze Ave. and Titan St., a currently vacant lot.
The lot in question
Digressions ranged from protests of the ethnicities of construction crews, a (totally unrealistic) development counterproposal complete with a rendering, and exaggerations of the real estate portfolio of the developer. The meeting was heavy on emotion and anger, and had but a dash of discussion relating to zoning matters.
This despite SPHINC executive director Claudia Sherrod expressing at the beginning of the meeting that [neighbors are] "welcome to comment on the zoning issues only... you cannot come here and talk about your personal agendas. If you do, you will be asked to leave."
The project would establish a sizable, new construction commercial space on Point Breeze Ave. for the first time in what must be decades. The Breeze has historically been a vibrant commercial corridor, but has fallen on tough times in recent decades, and the commercial mix is definitely lacking.
If you walk or drive down Point Breeze Ave., you'll notice several houses of worship, numerous residences, and a smattering of different types of stores. Take-out restaurants are plentiful, as are hair salons. One large supermarket can be found, along with another smaller market as well as a few bodegas/corner stores. Family Dollar is a popular spot, since it offers so many different necessities under one roof. Additionally, we spotted two hardware stores, a few launderettes, a handful of clothing shops, and one bank. Vacancy and blight are unfortunately an all-too-common feature.