Lawyer: Blatstein Doesn’t Own Broad & Washington, Can’t Seek Zoning Approval

An agreement of sale expired in March, according to a letter from the owner's lawyer.

The vacant lot on northeast corner of Broad and Washington. | Photo via Google Street View.

The vacant lot on northeast corner of Broad and Washington | Photo via Google Street View

A lawyer for N/H Philadelphia Properties, the New York real estate company that owns the long-vacant lot at the corner of Broad Street and Washington Avenue in South Philly’s Hawthorne section, has sent a letter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment saying that developer Bart Blatstein has no legal right to the property and asking the board to hold its decision on the zoning approvals Blatstein is seeking for 30 more days.

For two years, Blatstein’s development company, Tower Investments, has been pursuing a project at the corner involving a 32-story apartment tower and a rooftop retail village. The zoning board heard his application for special exceptions last month, but opted to hold its decision for two weeks. It later voted to approve the project, then decided to vacate that vote because two weeks hadn’t passed. At a meeting last week, when the board was scheduled to take its final vote, two board members were absent and no vote took place.

In the meantime, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a bill calling for a one-year construction moratorium on the site, saying that neighbors were unhappy with the project proposal.

Now the property’s owner is seeking a further delay, claiming that its agreement of sale with Blatstein expired on March 15th.

“We respectfully request that the ZBA postpone consideration of the Application for thirty (30) days because Tower Investments, Inc. … currently holds no interest in the Property, has no authority to act on behalf of the Owner, and therefore has no right to pursue the Application,” Ballard Spahr attorney Matt McClure wrote in a letter to the zoning board.

The letter says that N/H Philadelphia Properties has filed litigation against Tower Investments “to recover liquidated damages” owed to the owner through the agreement of sale because the sale didn’t close by the expiration date.

Blatstein’s attorney Ron Patterson did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Blatstein declined to comment.

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