UPDATED: Don Draper Would Be Pissed
Music producer and DJ RJD2, born Ramble John Krohn, may not be a household name, but if you are one of the millions who watch Mad Men, you at least know his song “A Beautiful Mine,” which is the show’s opening theme. To give you an idea of his popularity, Google hits on his stage name exceed ?uestlove’s by more than one million.
In 2010, Krohn purchased a three-story stone home in Philadelphia’s tree-lined Overbrook Farms neighborhood (think City Avenue and Lancaster Avenue) for $450,000. And just months later, he found out that the Overbrook Farms Club Board was seeking historic designation for the area. The city’s Historic Designation board is expected to vote tomorrow.
It’s been a heated debate on the neighborhood’s listserv, with all of the personal attacks, rants and long-winded spiels that one expects these digital-era days. One concerned local homeowner, in favor of HD, posted a message in October after a nearby home sold for $380,000. “What does this mean for our neighborhood?” she asked, frantically. “It means that people of a lower income bracket are becoming more able to buy homes in our neighborhood.” After all, would you want someone who could afford a $380,000 home living next to your family? Frightening.
Others worry they won’t be able to afford to adhere to HD requirements and say that the whole process has lacked democratic input from the community.
Krohn stands firmly planted on the “no” side of things and has spearheaded a petition against HD, obtaining 115 signatures. He submitted the petition to the Philadelphia Historical Commission, which last week voted 5-0 to recommend that the HD board approve the measure. Krohn says that the PHC also received 24 letters in support and 44 against HD.
“It’s pretty obvious that there is a majority vote of homeowners against this moving forward,” says Krohn. “And yet, it seems likely to pass.”
He says that he has called Councilman Curtis Jones at least four times over the last month, this after Jones told him to do so when Krohn accosted him at an October meeting. “[He] told me to my face… that he would LOVE to hear my feelings on the matter,” wrote Krohn in an email to me earlier this week. “I have no interest in telling him my feelings. I want to tell him 115 of his constituents’ feelings. Representative democracy, my ass. I can’t even get my district councilman’s ASSISTANT to return my calls?”
Guessing no one in Jones’ office watches Mad Men.
UPDATE 12/8 5:00 p.m.: At 4:58 p.m., Councilman Curtis Jones issued the following statement: “It is my hope that the Historical Commission Designation Committee takes into consideration my request and recommendation of extending the time to review the Overbrook Farms Historical designation process. For the possibility of intended and unintended consequences must be evaluated and fully considered first and foremost as the residents on both sides are still unclear of the protocol. Just as City Council attributes ch.64, the Government Access channel, to give an open and transparent process to the public, I hope the Historical Designation process is equivalently transparent in procedure. Furthermore, some believe you are on the right path of fairness on an issue when parties of all sides are adequately heard, yet equally dissatisfied.”
Stay tuned for further developments.