We were traipsing through Manayunk the other day, and some new construction on Lyceum Avenue caught our eye. Doing some digging on the project, we found some info from the Roxborough-Manayunk Patch, the local website covering all things Manayunk and Roxborough. And according to the Patch, the project at 368 Lyceum Ave. involved slightly more drama than your average three home development. Where the new homes are currently being built, a single structure stood until last fall.

In 2009

Fixed up some, last year. Image from Roxborough-Manayunk Patch

In November, developer Andy Thomas presented plans for this development to the community at a Central Roxborugh Civic Association meeting. He did this as a courtesy, since the project had already been approved by L&I as a by-right development. The plans were fairly straightforward- demolish an old but poorly maintained home, and construct a twin home and a standalone single-family home with a shared drive aisle and rear-access parking.

Under construction

Closer look

This project was apparently a source of great distress for several members of the community. People were upset that the developer was going to tear down an old home, and people also seemed upset that three new homes would be replacing it. Some Patch commenters seemed frustrated that the development could be done by right, and that the neighbors didn’t get a seat at the table.

While we can’t say we’re overwhelmed with the design of the new homes, those are kind of the breaks in the big city. Sometimes a developer can build something by right and there ain’t anything anybody can do about it, and sometimes a developer needs a variance and the neighborhood can force them to collaborate toward a project that better suits the community. Considering the often arbitrary zoning map in Philadelphia, it’s often just the luck of the draw.