We were so happy, earlier this summer, to share the good news that the ZBA had approved the mixed-use project at 2401 Washington Ave., an industrially zoned property that's been vacant for many years. And it's with just as much dread that we tell you that, as of last week, the project is under appeal. A special thank you to Madeline Shikomba of the "North of Washington Avenue Coalition" and the other neighbors who would clearly prefer a storage facility here, rather than apartments and retail.
Anyone else getting a sense of deja vu? Remember, the mixed-use project at 1601 Washington Ave. was appealed last year and the variance for the project was overturned by the Court of Common Pleas. At that point, we lamented not only the implications for that project, but also for the proposal at 2401 Washington Ave. which had just been presented to the community. And now our fears have been realized. With zoning approval, we were hopeful that we'd soon be seeing this at 24th & Washington:
But instead we'll be staring at this for the foreseeable future:
This issue could be quickly resolved with an act of City Council. On the plus side, the new overlay that eliminates by-right industrial uses on Washington Avenue means that future storage facilities will have to go through the ZBA. But in order for Washington Avenue to become a vibrant corridor that links Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze, remapping is the only way. All of the large parcels on Washington Avenue should allow residential and commercial by-right, or else anyone proposing mixed-use projects will be left at the mercy of the courts. And we're no attorneys, but it seems that the people appealing the mixed-use project on the industrially zoned parcel will, as they did with 1601 Washington, have a real shot of winning.
This would, of course, represent a "win" for a cadre who routinely fight development, and a loss for just about everybody else.