Both the building owner and architect of a potential restaurant project across the street from the fountain at 1535 S. 11th St. gave an information-only proposal last night at the Passyunk Square Civic Association’s zoning committee meeting. Their plan is to develop the currently vacant property between Fond and Da Vinci’s into a sit-down eating establishment, likely a BYOB, and convert the second and third floors into a bilevel apartment with a roof deck.
But what kind of restaurant? They still don’t know.
Behind the plan is property owner Kevin Gillen and architect Christopher Stromberg of Johnson Stromberg Architecture, a South Street-based design firm that had been involved in the design of Carpenter Square, an eleven-home LEED-certified development at 17th and Carpenter streets.
The footprint of the existing structure at 1535 – a former accordian shop – would remain mostly the same but with a minor expansion in the back of the first floor to accommodate a kitchen. At 700 square feet, the restaurant would be on the cozy side with about 30 seats and no plan for outdoor seating at this point. The apartment upstairs would be 1,400 square feet.
They cited Passyunk’s burgeoning identity as a restaurant row as the reason they see the property as an opportunity to add diversity to the avenue’s current offerings. They haven’t signed an agreement with any executive chefs or restaurateurs, but Gillen assured community members that there has been plenty of interest in the location from possible tenants, whom he declined to name. Like neighbors Stateside and Fond, they are hoping to implement something upscale, yet casual, while avoiding replication of what’s already there.
Community members in attendance had their concerns about probability of yet another restaurant succeeding in that location given the saturation of eating establishments around the fountain and along Passyunk Avenue. The zoning committee asked Gillen and Stromberg if they would consider retail, to which they replied that they were currently only pursuing a restaurant concept.
Despite the concerns, the committee voted 6-2 in favor of non-opposition (the crazy zoning way of saying support).
If all goes well with the zoning and permits, Stromberg said that we could expect to see something in the space by early spring 2014. He said the plan is to go ahead with renovations and renovate the first floor into a “white box” that could quickly be personalized once an agreement with a restaurateur is made.
What type of restaurant would you like to see in that space? Or do you think that East Passyunk has finally met its restaurant limit?
– Danielle Zimmerman