A compromise with this local developer could be a big win for the community.
Open Letter to the Leadership of East Falls Community Council, East Falls Development Corporation and East Falls Forward:
Guys. We have a problem.
That big unfinished green apartment building near the corner of Ridge and Indian Queen has been languishing all summer. No signs of construction. Like the developer is just giving up because the community voted to oppose his request to skirt the property’s first floor commercial requirement.
As you all likely know, word on the street is not good. Rumors that the property will never get finished, and will just sit as an eyesore for the neighborhood. That there will be legal fallout. That Glenn Falso has already purchased a gas station property on Midvale Avenue, where he could build apartments with zero parking by right if he wanted.
Look, we agree with the ZBA’s decision to reject that variance – but it wasn’t a snap judgement. We like the idea of any development down near our business corridor which can use all the warm bodies it can get. Now instead of a nice apartment building we have an abandoned construction site and a towering advertisement for ZipSystem wall sheathing you can see up the river trail from Strawberry Mansion.
By the way, that stuff isn’t meant to be exposed to the elements for very long. After like 6 months it starts degrading, so we could soon have a safety issue on top of the ugly issue. The good news, we think, is that both the community and Falso have an interest in salvaging this project.
The developer has made a significant investment in the property, labor, materials… This building is more than halfway completed, it’s not like he can walk away without serious loss. We can work with this! We just need to figure out what concessions the community can offer to help Falso meet his budget — while still honoring the neighborhood’s wishes.
After talking with several local developers, we came up with a list of items that might tempt Falso to imagine new possibilities here:
- Loading zone – Give him a spot on IQL, it’ll be helpful for any business that rents there and also for renters moving in & out. For trash days. (the eye doctor & LeBus would even benefit)
- Sidewalk seating (that might help attract a café)
- Discount/priority parking for his tenants in the EFDC lot
- A list of business types the community would support here
- Help finding tenants – EFDC can post the space on their website and actively seek out & vet businesses that the community desires & needs
Or maybe we should just ask him?
How about reaching out to our very fine Councilmember Curtis Jones? If anyone can help us patch things over with Falso, he can. Perhaps Curtis would agree to meet with community organizations on a plan to get the ball rolling again on this important puzzle-piece in our commercial corridor. Could someone arrange that?
We’d love to see leadership draft an agreement with Falso that addresses our goals for development and provides him with as much help as possible to target successful projects in the Falls. The “Green Giant” could be a great place to live and work, and a real asset to our neighborhood.
How ‘bout it, guys? Can we get Curtis in here and work together on a solution that benefits everyone?
Let us know if we can help.
Local editors and East Falls neighbors (Gypsy Lane Condos, represent!)
East Falls Community Council meets on 2nd Mondays
7pm at the East Falls Presbyterian Church (Vaux & Midvale)
East Falls Forward meets on 3rd Thursdays
6:30pm at BuLogics (3721 Midvale)
East Falls Development Corporation does not, to our knowledge, hold public board meetings.