By and large, it’s working out for all of us that we live in a free country. But freedom for some can present frustration and aggravation for others. See, there’s a large vacant lot on the north side of the 2600 block of Poplar Street, and many neighbors would surely love to see it get redeveloped. But the owners of the property are not obligated or compelled to redevelop it, and can let it sit empty for as long as they wish. It’s not like this isn’t an absentee owner situation, either. The owners are the Graveley family, and they have a roofing business right across the street. To date though, they have been unwilling or unable to develop their large property and as far as we can tell, they’ve not been interested in selling it off to someone who would.
Over the years, we understand that a couple of possible redevelopment proposals have floated out there for this property, with the most recent plan calling for an apartment building with 75 units and 38 parking spaces. Last fall though, we told you that the apartment building plan wasn’t coming to pass, and that the owners were coming to Fairmount Civic Association with a new plan for the property. But we didn’t know what that plan would entail.
Earlier this week though, neighborhood maven @genbrewerytown gave us the heads up that zoning notices have been posted to the property. Now we can clearly see what’s in the works. According to the zoning notices, the plans call for the construction of 23 new homes, each with two-car parking. The notice specifically notes that the parking will be below grade, and that could mean the parking will be located underground. More likely though, this just means that the drive-aisle will be slightly submerged, allowing for standard row home layouts on the upper floors. Maybe someone that attended the community meeting can fill in that detail?
If this project ultimately moves forward, it will certainly be an upgrade over a long vacant lot. But we still see a missed opportunity, as we think an apartment building would have made much more sense at this location. It’s just a block away from the West Girard commercial corridor, and while the addition of a couple dozen new residents will be a benefit, three times as many new residents would have been three times as good. The relatively new building across the street even provided an example of what could have worked here. Well, it provides a functional example, if not an architectural example.
Of course, it’s a big ‘if’ as to whether this property actually gets developed. As we said before, it’s seen a couple of false starts in the past, and we won’t feel comfortable that something is moving forward until we see construction activity at the site. This assumes that the long time owners are still the owners, and that a developer doesn’t have the property under agreement. If that’s the case, then we’re actually quite optimistic that a project will happen here, assuming the ZBA gives its blessing at the end of this month.