Morning Headlines: Someone Finally Stands Up To Blackwell
Will Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell respond now? Since April, Blackwell has ignored a zoning variance request from developers planning a mixed-use condo complex at 43rd and Baltimore. Even pleas from her constituents who loved the proposal have not moved her to speak. This morning, however, Inga Saffron called her out.
“But how long can she ignore this chunk of her constituency?” asks the Inquirer’s architecture critic after praising the “excellent design” of the Cecil Baker-crafted structure, which locals and the Planning Commission are excited about given Baltimore Avenue’s status as an growing commercial corridor. Developer U3 Ventures seeks a zoning change that would make the space’s current residential zoning to residential/commercial, thus helping the corridor grow.
Saffron says neighborhood reaction to Blackwell keeping mum is a perfect example of a “quiet revolution” in the face of “councilmanic prerogative”, which is to say, the all-encompassing power council members have when it comes to land use. Or as she puts it: “They alone determine what projects get built, where bike lanes are located, whether residents can nominate their neighborhoods for historic status, and much, much else.”
This isn’t the first time Blackwell has ignored public wishes. Apparently, she’s left historic Victorian homes in Spruce Hill unprotected by refusing to pass a historic district designation. Saffron write that this is “also with no clear explanation.”
U3 could technically start construction tomorrow, just not the building the neighborhood wants. Instead, Saffron reports, they would have to build one that follows current zoning rules and which is a lot less attractive than the proposed condo complex. Thus, they wait, something they might tire of pretty quickly :
In the interest of good citizenship, the company has tried to avoid that option. It’s unlikely to wait forever.
Shouldn’t Blackwell demonstrate that she can be a good citizen, too?
• In W. Phila., Blackwell’s silence holds up worthy project [Changing Skyline]
In other news…
• Did Basciano watch it all go down? [Daily News]
• More Old City Mansions Coming at Bread Street Estates [Naked Philly]
• First Baptist Church of Ardmore condo conversion moving forward [Main Line Times]