A few months back, developers appeared before the Bella Vista Neighbors Association with plans to raze the building that's housed the Klinghoffer carpet showroom for years and replace it with three new homes. They also intended to build four homes across the street where a one-story garage previously stood.
In a vacuum, this sounds like a welcome change for an area that is already predominantly residential, save for a few ground-floor retail spots nearby. The plans call for the demolition of the building at 734-38 Bainbridge St. and the construction of three four-story single-family homes with rear garage access on Perth Street. Across the street, they're looking to build two garage-front homes fronting Bainbridge Street and two on Kater Street. Lily Development, a company that has often worked with Scioli Turco in the past, is the developer here, though Scioli Turco is not involved in this particular project.
According to their website, BVNA strongly opposed this project. The community didn't like the size and bulk of the homes proposed for the south side of the street, nor did they like that cars parking in the rear of those homes would have to drive on a narrow street that marks the northern end of Cianfrani Park. Regarding the homes on the north side of Bainbridge and Kater, it seemed the primary complaint involved the front-loading garages. At the ZBA hearing in early June, a bunch of neighbors showed up to voice their opposition. Despite this, the project got approval at the ZBA. So barring an appeal, it looks like these seven homes are getting built. Expect them to be pricey.
Were the neighbors right to fight this project so aggressively, or were the variances not such a big deal? And are we alone in thinking that new construction housing near Center City should specifically not have parking to encourage walking and the use of public transportation? Obviously that would require some sort of an overlay (and then probably trigger new variance requests) but we can't think of a better way to trump the zoning process with an urban planning practice that would make a ton of sense for greater Center City.