Showdown! If we could distill last night’s zoning meeting down into one key debate, it’d be parking versus green space at Midvale & Conrad. From our vantage point, green space (and modern sustainable parking models) won resounding support.
A diverse mix of near neighbors has been meeting with developer Gary Jonas, who is asking neighbors to support his plans to renovate the vacant Redeemer Lutheran church into 9 rental units, and build five townhomes on the land behind it (facing Penn Street).
Initially, Gary’s plan was to mow down the trees in that plot so that every unit would have its own parking space — a luxury he’d only be too happy to add to the price of his finished apartments. But near neighbors feel strongly that as much of the church’s green space as possible should stay.
Leafy green areas are more than just beautiful to see and enjoy, but they’re also crucial for storm water management — especially in this part of East Falls with so much impermeable surface coverage already.
The near neighbors have inventoried available parking throughout the day, and feel there is more than enough to accommodate 9 apartment units. Further, they point out that those in favor of parking over greenspace did not come to any of the posted meetings and in addition live on the side of Midvale with garages, so WTF?
As for the pro-parking contingent, they use phrases like “my side of the street” and “I’ve been here 45 years” and share what many feel are unrealistic expectations regarding parking in an urban area such as ours.
We snipped the best parts from last night’s meeting, for review here. Whatever the neighborhood decides, this parking issue has nothing to do with whether Philly zoning will approve the plan or not — HOW’s attorney underscored this “parking vs greenspace” debate is purely a community issue.
So what do we value here, East Falls? Looks like there’s a swelling walkability-sustainability contingent that’s finding a voice in Redeemer’s renovations. An exciting time, here, for new projects in step with modern planning theories you can see in action in CAROLYN SUTTON’S NEAR NEIGHBOR REPORT.
The project’s zoning board meeting is May 18th — local sources indicate EFCC will be recommending that ZBA approve HOW’s plans to develop the property as presented. Score for trees!
More scoop coming from East Falls Forward’s general mixer & meeting. Meanwhile, here’s chair, Felicite Moorman’s personal meeting recap of last night:
Re-Cap of Last Night’s Joint EFF/EFCC Zoning Committee Meeting – Downs Hall
HOW properties presented, seeking support for their town home and apartment project at the intersection of Midvale and Conrad. This included the conversion of the old church. They have made some substantial changes with Near Neighbors input. Trees were a hot topic. It largely sounds like it was church or trees compromise. HOW, at the request of Near Neighbors, had an arborist report.
The age old issue of parking reared its head again, questioning whether HOW should focus on green space or parking? The statement was made by HOW that the parking issue might be alleviated and more attractive to non-driving buyers if East Falls Riverfront Business District were more walkable and better developed, eliminating the need for cars.
Hello, Forwarders! ZBA is 5/18 at 2 pm. Est. start time is 4 months from ZBA Hearing, then 6-8 months for apartments (church) and 6-12 months for townhomes (partner developer).
The Rivage did not present. Philadelphia University did not present. Carlton Park did not present. — F.M.
SEE YOU TONIGHT! Half-hour social with snacks & beer followed by a guided, point-by-point discussion on all thing zoning in East Falls. 6:30 – 8:00 pm plus… McMichael Park playground meeting at 6:00 pm.