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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

9th and Wharton development met with much opposition at PSCA zoning meeting

At Tuesday night’s Passyunk Square Civic Association meeting, the presentation for the development of the lot at 9th and Wharton was met with much opposition from neighbors.

Pat's Steaks lots (2)

The project, which we first told you about in October, was opposed by many based on the never-ending problem of parking in South Philly.

The plans for the lot include a combination of five ground-level retail stores with apartments on the upper-levels of the building. Much of the reason for the neighborhood opposition is based on the already troubling parking in the vicinity. This vacant lot is located across from Pat’s King of Steaks, which means that parking could becoming even more of an issue than it is currently for those who live in the area.

The developer of the project, Paul Mirabello, is a Passyunk Square native who also has development projects at 1514 S. 9th St. and the 500 block of Girard Ave.

More on the meeting from the Inquirer:

A church stood on that corner before its demolition three decades ago. An adjacent mural also harks back to a different era: Larger-than-life portraits of favorite sons Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Jerry Blavat, Bobby Rydell, Al Martino, Fabian, and Eddie Fisher are faded and chipped.

Gilbert Lettieri, 72, said he felt the parking situation had reached a critical point. His family has owned two houses on the 800 block of Wharton for nearly a century, after emigrating from Italy.

One of the two houses Lettieri owns with his siblings is a three-unit rental. And so, when Lettieri stood up to question the development, Mirabello took aim.

“You own a multifamily next door. But a multifamily beyond your property becomes inappropriate?” Mirabello said.

“That was 90 years ago my parents bought that,” Lettieri replied. “There’s no parking in the streets. Period.”

Pat’s owner Frank Olivieri said Wednesday that he does not support the development.

Many of the other remarks from neighbors at the meeting were quite negative, including a ”storm of questions, criticisms, and exclamations delivered with flourish and occasional profanity,” according to The Inquirer.

Triangle Tavern also presented their plans for outdoor seating, which we told you about last month. Neighbors also seemed to oppose Triangle Tavern’s plans for outdoor seating based on noise concerns since it is still a mainly residential area.

Where you at Tuesday night’s meeting? What do you think of the proposed plans to develop this now-vacant lot?

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37 Responses to 9th and Wharton development met with much opposition at PSCA zoning meeting

  1. Jer Bear April 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    This really would be an ideal spot for low income housing. It would bring some diversity to the area! Everyone deserves to live in a great part of this city :)

    • Paul April 17, 2015 at 11:00 am #

      @Jer bear – It is not ideal spot to put 18 units in a spot were 2 family once lived! There is no parking. You need parking stickers now in that area. Its not about diversity in the area. Its about making money.

    • Huh? April 17, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

      Think the last issue plaguing S Philly is a lack of diversity…

  2. AnthonyG April 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    I agree with Jer! Put in a couple new rowhomes and let PHA rent them out.

  3. Franklin Stove April 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    So depressing…this is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the 4th largest city in America and these clowns act like parking is a birthright. They should join the cuz exodus to South Jersey and leave the city to people who appreciate it for what it is.

    And opposing outdoor seating because the Triangle area is mostly residential? What a load. Who the hell is living in the Acme parking lot, Dunkin Donuts/CVS parking lot, Rita’s, Smoke Shop, etc?…maybe a little life at that intersection would make it suck a little less.

    • face April 16, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

      seriously. nobody complained about that shit ass Rita’s when it was open, and that was all outdoors…with awful children.

    • Ian April 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

      I don’t understand this, usually outdoor seating is over at a certain time (10, 11? not 2 am) and this area is already on the drunken footpath to Cheesesteak Vegas and has the 24 hour CVS so it can’t be whisper quiet as is. I’m not sure what added outdoor seating will harm. Is this just NIMBYism at it’s worst?

  4. Debbie April 16, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Crap. Totally missed that this was going on last night. Unfortunately with these meetings those with negative opinions are the ones that make it a priority to go to the meetings. There are people in the neighborhood who support both projects and I am one of them. I hope this is not the one and only hearing on either issue and those who want this kind of development make their voices heard too. Personally, I’m tired of the hearing the parking argument. I drive and I do park, but I also understand how close I live to Center City. Parking in our neighborhood is almost too easy – if it was harder people make different decisions. How many New Yorkers have with cars in in dense Brooklyn neighborhoods. I also see so many cars that sit unused and unmoved for weeks at a time because there is no penalty for NOT moving them. It is possible to live in our neighborhood without a car and shockingly people throughout Philadelphia neighborhoods are doing it every day. Yes, it’s new and I get it scary and annoying to many residents, but I hope those with a different opinion and voice take the time to make theirs heard as well.

    • Car Owner April 16, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

      “Tired of hearing” about how its is impossible to park is not a relevant argument.

      People in this neighborhood who “complain” about parking can and would pay for a permit to park in a garage for area residents… But no such projects are proposed. We understand that population is increasing and we welcome that as a great and wonderful thing! But why can’t solutions be devised for parking?!? Yes, some cars might sit unmoved because people park them and take bikes to work on warm days. Then in the winter time they might take public transportation. But some of us use our cars for work every day because our work is not at the same place every day.

      New York analogies might make you feel like you’re offering perspective. However, NY grew really big, really fast, long ago… Its still growing… It all happened too fast for NY to do anything about parking to help people own cars more easily. But in Philly, we are growing after decades of decline! We are experienceing a splendidly overdue boom in development and population rise! But it is not too late do devise parking solutions so that we can live a little bit more harmoniously than what is going on in NY…

      The Positivity Bubble:

      You cannot just accuse people who are positive about something different than you of having “negative opinions”. I thought the positivity bubble burst when the NY Times and various other outlets blasted it in their editorials for creating a culture of “if you’re not with us, then you’re against us”… You seem to be recycling this erroneous tactic here…

      • Derek April 17, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

        @CarOwner. Thoughtful. But I have to say the following:

        Part of the frustration with the pro-parking people, at least for me, is that it really isn’t that bad. Sorry it isn’t. I own a car too. I have very little trouble parking ever and I live right near Passyunk Avenue. I’m sure everyone has a tale of inconvenience or a bad experience on a weekend night, but it really really isn’t that hard to find a spot most of the time. And, yes, its a city, sometimes you have to circle and learn where the secret spots are and get good at parallel parking. Also helps to own a compact car instead of a boat or an SUV like so many do for some reason. Therefore, the belly aching about parking begins to smell, fairly or not, like the same people who put cones out to save their own spot because they think they’re entitled to it. Or people who are really just afraid of change and refuse to modify their behavior in the name of being “old South Philly”. That sounds like it isn’t you from what you wrote, but I really have to say that the parking armageddon is very overblown.

        • acer April 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

          Well said Derek. And on the nose, I think.

        • Nik April 17, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

          @ Derek. I agree. Just moved here from NYC (Queens) and when i would drive, was perfectly fine parking 5-10 blocks away and WALKING. People who need to be within 100 feet of their home make me laugh, it’s sort of a strange manifestation of OCD or something.

      • R Young April 17, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

        On-street permit parking would solve most if not all of the parking problems in the neighborhood. But the long-term residents oppose it because their cars aren’t actually registered at their homes.

        • ProvWitout April 19, 2015 at 12:16 am #

          Ummmm no…. Thats a PPA scam that permit parking crap. All it does is make it 2 hour parking during hours where people are either at work, or running errands after work…. When they finally get back home, the 2hr parking period of the day has ended.

          And once you bring the PPA in for that kind of stuff, they ticket for anything and EVERYTHING they are in the mood to ticket for at whatever given time… Where you could get away with having the nose of your car kind of peak past the “any time” sign, now its a PPA thug’s wet dream for the exciting chance to ruin your day with a BS ticket. Oh and the fire plugs… Yeah you can pile huge mountains of snow in front of, and some times on top of, fire plugs while you shovel every bit of snow away from your car, home, and/or business (Reputations Hair Salon). But park a car smaller than that snow pile a little too close to the plug, and the PPA troglodyte on duty might feel like mining dollars from you.

          So be very wary of the parking permit snake oil salesmen and saleswomen… It only works if its all the time… And I haven’t seen that anywhere yet…

          • Tiny Tim April 19, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

            While I understand the hesitancy to invite PPA into your neighborhood, 2 hour parking for non-permit holders lasts until 10pm on my block. And, really, it’s a residential block in South Philly so as it isn’t ever going to be a big moneymaker for PPA they rarely visit. It isn’t worth their time. The signs themselves have been enough of a deterrent to convert my block from never having a free spot to almost always having a free spot. It solves the problem. If you don’t want to solve the problem, that’s on you.

            • ProvWitout April 20, 2015 at 11:32 am #

              Ok I’ll agree that for some instances, it does work. For your block, it seems to have had its intended outcome. But the parking authority is steadily intensifying its ticketing. Already, there are parts of South Philly where they ticket you as if you are in Center City. I don’t want to be seen as standing in the way of solving problems. I’m just pointing out that the PPA certainly has created as many problems as it has solved. I am glad it has worked out for your block though.

          • R Young April 20, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

            It worked in my parents neighborhood in West Philadelphia. It works on Emily and Tree Sts, which have had permit parking for at least a decade.

            And frankly, I’d be happy to have the PPA patrolling South Philly; I’m tried of seeing people parked in front of fire hydrants, in the crosswalks at corners and (my personal favorite) half on the sidewalk, nose-in in front of their own garage, as if the public thoroughfare were their own personal driveway.

        • wcb April 22, 2015 at 9:58 am #

          Agreed! Maybe my neighbors who have their 3 cars registered at their moms in DA wouldn’t be able to park.. maybe all the people who have their cars registered at the shore homes would have to move their car or re-register the cars to this area so the city can collect the money and have an actual knowledge of how many cars are registered per zip code.

  5. joe April 16, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    hey franklin stove,

    I actually live across from the triangle tavern, and NOT in the acme parking lot. there are residential houses all along 10th street, reed street, and alder as well. while i don’t oppose the addition of a new place to eat in the area, why the need for outdoor seating until 2am? there is already enough late night noise in that area due to pats and genos, why add more? with outdoor seating comes, more trash flying around, more noise, more music, etc. there are hard working people that live on those blocks that don’t need to be kept awake all hours of the night. keep it inside.

    • Michelle C. April 17, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      Are they really proposing seating until 2am? Typically, many bars/restaurants close their outdoor seating areas earlier than that and don’t pipe music outside, as a courtesy to neighbors.

      That said, I live on the other side of broad, and I’d rather hear young professionals chatting over some beers at 10pm at a busy intersection, than people screaming at each other outside my window on a side street at 4am :).

      • AnthonyG April 17, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

        @Michella: Exactly, there will be no outdoor seating till 2:00 AM, maybe midnight at the latest. It’s the same BS the Track Suite crowd tiried with StateSide, claiming it would be an “after hours” club. Flat out lies.

        • David G April 20, 2015 at 10:21 am #

          Um, well, since it’s the applicant themselves who said they’re looking for seating until 2AM, not sure I’d put this in the “lies” category.

  6. Rob April 17, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    Pat’s should have bought it years ago and just made it more green space.

    • Christine April 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      They wouldn’t sell it to Pat’s! He tried to buy it. That’s why he opposes the project.

  7. Geoff DiMasi April 17, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    I can understand why a loud outdoor situation would be an issue for neighbors, I would encourage everyone to think about the positive things that this could bring to the neighborhood, as well. Things like extra eyes on the street for safety and a general vibrancy that makes life richer.

    I would hope we can all work out a compromise that allows for outdoor seating within a time frame that works for all. Maybe close down the outdoor seating by 9:30 or 10pm.

    I would also encourage us to embrace density in the neighborhood since it creates the possibility of a walkable where you run into neighbors, get your business done, go out for a bite, etc. This developer might not be the best fit, but I would not want us to reject commercial use with apartments on principle.

    Thanks for covering these processes as they play out and I look forward to civil dialogue as we figure this out. I know that all of us can figure out a way to improve these projects by working together.

  8. David Hand April 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    I am surprised that developers these days, and especially with lots this large, do not consider excavating the site to allow for partially or wholly underground parking facilities. The lot is approximately 80′ x 95′. Such a lot size might allow for one level of 20 or more parking spaces and only one curb cut that would take just one parking space off the street. Such an offering might make the apartment proposal more satisfying, and not add too much to the developer’s construction costs. He’s probably gong to build a basement anyway, right? It’s all about thinking more creatively, and investing a bit more $$ into a project rather than trying to exploit the community for personal and financial gain. Too often developers push us into allowing all kinds of poorly designed projects with too many variances only so that they can sell them quickly and walk away from our neighborhood with their pockets full of money.

    • Christine April 17, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

      South Philly soils are notoriously bad. Swampy. Low bearing capacity. That means a ton of extra money to dig down. Once you account for the amount of space for drive aisles and the ramp to get down to basement level, there just aren’t enough spots. This lot isn’t as big as it looks.

      The zoning for this lot is about to change to commercial, as it should be. It will get approved.

    • Lee April 17, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

      David Hand,

      You make a valid point, contractors should work harder at better designs. That being said, a couple of issues with what you proposed:

      1st, there aren’t parking minimums for this zoning classification. While it is a nice to have, it is not required by zoning. Parking adds cost to construction, which in turn makes the dwelling more expensive.

      2nd. an 80′ x 95′ parcel is about 7600 square feet. A standard parking space is usually assumed to be 9′x18′ (compact spaces can be smaller, but I can’t imagine someone building just compact spaces, that wouldn’t sell well). Each space would need pull out room equivalent to about the depth of the space. So that allows you about 23 space. however that doesn’t include a ramp, once you add in a ramp and add in turning radii, you’ve reduced your spots by a substantial amount.

      My point is, that while you could certainly get cars into the basement, the number of spots would be small and may not warrant the cost of deep excavation, ventilation, additional fire protection, drainage/sump pumps, etc.

  9. tee April 17, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    For Christ’s sake,

    It’s a miserable vacant lot with an decrepit mural facing it.

    People should be overjoyed that someone wants to put an apartment bldg with ground floor retail on there.

    • Ian April 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

      This is Philly, bub. If it affects someone’s way of life in the slightest, it must be destroyed ;)

      • ProvWitout April 20, 2015 at 11:33 am #

        And if you were from here, you’d have said “cuz”… Not “bub”…. lolololol

        • ProvWitout April 20, 2015 at 11:34 am #

          Just playin… Don’t get all twisted….

  10. Carl April 18, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Congestion, noise, tension…. some of the many reasons I moved to Gray’s Ferry.

  11. Brian April 19, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    Why can’t the city just turn the lot into a park? Some place with seating and trash cans so there’s less garbage floating down the streets and a place for people to eat their cheesesteaks?

    Maybe, you know, plant a few trees as well.

    • steve April 20, 2015 at 11:10 am #

      I agree with general sentiment of more park space – but there is a pretty big park and playground with trash cans directly opposite the other side of Pat’s. So, it’s not entirely needed here.

      We certainly don’t need a vacant lot or a parking garage, though.

      • Brian April 20, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

        Those gates also lock in that park. Plus there is no sitting since its really just a children’s playground. Its also not lit.

        If they converted some of the space on the south east side of the park to tables that would be fine by me.

  12. wcb April 22, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    Whatever happens with that corner I hope they make it safer.

    I walk by there a few times a week and you have to really watch the traffic and cars when walking around there. Out of towners don’t see the stop signs (or ignore them,) don’t understand the angled rows, and pull out of “parking” spots without looking for pedestrians.

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