Over the last several months, we have gotten very, very familiar with Germantown Ave., from Northern Liberties all the way to Chestnut Hill. We have found ourselves especially busy on the east side of Germantown, where a couple of projects have recently caught our eye. It appears we might have another to add to the mix in the very near future at the former home of the now-defunct Comer Paper Company.

6237-45 Germantown Ave. looking east

We saw a recent zoning refusal for the property at 6237-45 Germantown Ave., at the northeast corner of Germantown Ave. & Washington Ln., which was very intriguing. The refusal for this CA-1 property was due to the inclusion of multifamily (among other issues), which is a no-go for this auto-centric zoning category. When we checked the status after a visit to the ZBA last week, we were happy (and maybe a bit surprised) to see the variance was granted to move ahead with demolition to make way for the now-approved structure. This is an instance when knocking down a rather unremarkable, one-story building is A-OK in our book. Check out the site as it looks today.

Facade looking a bit weathered
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One story brick portion isn't exactly brimming with architectural excitement
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Back lot is also a part of the plans
Comer Paper Co. sign missing its namesake

The proposal calls for a 47-unit, mixed-use building with ground floor commercial, and parking for 41 cars and 21 bicycles. Canno Design will handle architectural duties, so we expect something pretty sharp to go up once things get moving. The four-story structure will cover nearly 80% of the 20K sqft lot, so we’re imagining a building with a low, wide massing. As you are likely aware, we are never too fond of parking along a transportation corridor. But we can chalk this one up as a zoning victory for the developers (and in our opinion, the neighbors, too). CA-1 zoning permits shopping centers and surface parking lots as a matter of right – far from the highest or best use here. Without a variance, this project would have required 203 spaces (!), so score one for pedestrian-focused development here, even with 41 parking spots.

View facing NW up Germantown Ave. looking adorable
Another project in progress at 6144 Germantown Ave. a block to the southeast
Rendering of what's to come at 6144

This is about to become a busy little stretch, as Hightop Development is currently underway on a 50-unit mixed-use building just a block to the south, on the campus of the Settlement Music School. We hope that these projects add to one of the most gorgeous areas of the city so that Germantown keeps its comeback momentum going. In the meantime, we now need a new paper supplier which also provides party supplies. Little help here?


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