A view of the main campus at Villanova by Alertjean via Wikimedia
At 1:10 a.m. this morning, the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners, by a vote of 5-1, introduced an amendment to the township zoning code that would permit Villanova University to proceed toward implementing a massive expansion program. The vote followed more than three hours of discussion involving the board, the professional staff of the township, and members of the community.
At times the debate became emotional and acrimonious. At one point Commissioner Jim Higgins had to intercede during a heated exchange between Commissioner John Fisher and Township Manager Robert A. Zienkowski. Zienkowski took offense to Fisher’s suggestion that the township planning staff was not up to the task of dealing with the university’s proposal. Fisher was advocating for Radnor to hire an independent planner for the project.
Rendering of original planned campus expansion on Lancaster Avenue via Villanova.edu.
It’s been a NIMBY nightmare for Villanova. Like Drexel, Temple and Penn, Villanova has been pursuing its own plans for a renaissance to increase the quality of campus and student life. But the former three schools contend with less residential opposition than does Villanova, whose initial go at an expansion plan was rejected by Radnor [...]
Photo: Laura Kicey
As we said here, Saturday’s protest by the Point Breeze Organizing Committee and its sympathizers was peaceful. Property photographer Laura Kicey took photos of the crowd, the signs, the speakers and performers, and one very tiny drummer in training.
Photo: Laura Kicey
Saturday was the Point Breeze Organizing Committee’s march against OCF Realty, and as you’ll see from our photos, which we’ll have up soon, it was very peaceful. Yet early that morning someone in the neighborhood smashed a hole in one window of the local OCF Realty coffee shop, and took another window out almost completely–acts that runs counter to the PBOC’s nonviolent mandate.
Photo: Laura Kicey
Photo: Bradley Maule
In Next City, Patrick Kerkstra makes Philly negative exceptionalists feel better by pointing out that while Philadelphia demolition regulations are, indeed, lax, it’s far from alone. His lede is priceless:
“In Philadelphia, a city with a rich history of municipal incompetence, there’s a natural impulse to assume the worst about city government when tragedy strikes…”
But that wouldn’t be fair, he says. In fact, Kerkstra analyzed 12 cities and found that Philadelphia’s inadequate supervision of demolition is typical of many large cities. So much so that this could, Kerkstra points out, happen anywhere.
Dock Street Brewery faced major NIMBY opposition. Photo by Jeff Fusco for GPTMC
Dunkin Donuts is prepping a space in University City, and some neighbors aren’t happy about a chain restaurant moving into the space. Though this particular franchise opening seems to be a fait accompli at this point, the debate over a chain’s suitability in a neighborhood of independent businesses will surface again and again. (The last conflict of this kind arose over a Subway sandwich shop on Baltimore Avenue.)
Urban & Bye’s associate broker Melani Lamond, a prominent figure in the University City real estate community and owner of the Gold Standard Cafe’s building, among others, gets frustrated by the notion that a commercial property should be limited to a certain type. On a neighborhood listserv where residents can share their frustration or support for such projects, Lamond offered a “landlord’s perspective,” in which she further expanded on this point of view. She allowed us to reproduce the piece she wrote, which raises some very interesting points. (She begins by responding to specific charges made by others, including worries about traffic and urban location, which is why it seems to start in media res.)
Rendering of Sansom Street after the building of Fergie's Tower via Ten Arquitectos
A frightening epistle came over the transom a few days back saying restaurateur/bar-owner Fergus Carey was selling his eponymous bar on 12th and Sansom so it could could be demolished to make more room for the U3 Ventures/Ten Arquitectos 26-story apartment/hotel/retail tower planned for 12th and Walnut. The email made it sound as though the demolition of Fergie’s was Carey’s decision, so it seemed essential to call and yell at him.
“That’s not true at all,” Fergie said, in that soft Irish brogue that hardly registers along the phone lines. “I don’t even own the building.”
Screen shot of OCCA's homepage today
Without a zoning committee and status as a Registered Community Organization, the Old City Civic Association (OCCA) has decided to call it quits entirely. PlanPhilly released a copy of a letter from former OCCA president Ryan Berley that was sent to Old City District’s Graham Copeland. Titled “Re: Old City Civic Association (OCCA) – Cessation of Business,” it reads:
I regret to inform you that at a special board meeting on May 6th, 2013, a board vote was taken to discontinue all civic and social activities and to cease doing business as OCCA, as the Association can no longer afford the risk of liability associated with its mission.
This difficult and painful decision is driven by the lack of insurance coverage.
Consequently, going forward, the entity formerly known as OCCA will play no role nor participate in any decisions relative to land-use, zoning, planning, licensing, permitting, historic preservation, enforcement of regulation or code, nor conduct any other business as OCCA.
At this time I wish to express my sincere gratitude for your support of our work over the past 35 years that the OCCA has endeavored to preserve, protect and improve the Old City residential and business community.