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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Updated 9th and Wharton development presented with ‘significant changes,’ community still not on board

At last night’s Passyunk Square Civic Association zoning meeting, the developers of the proposed 9th and Wharton development came prepared with new plans with some “significant changes.” The last we updated you on this lot was regarding the zoning variance that was denied by the ZBA in June for the change from RSA-5 for single-family designation to CMX-2.5, which would allow for this mix of commercial space and apartment units.


While the developers listened to community feedback from the six previous presentations here since 2014 and made tweaks to the plans, the community is still not fully on board for this project that includes 4,638 sq. ft. of commercial space and 18 apartments.

Since the last presentation, some things have been scaled back. Originally 6,758 sq. ft. of commercial space was planned. It has now been lessened by 33% to include 4,638 sq. ft. of commercial to better mesh with the neighborhood. This new plan limits the entrances for the two commercial spaces to the front of the building along 9th Street, allowing Wharton to stay more residential.

There are currently 18 units of apartments being proposed for this four-story building. Originally plans called for as many as 33 bedrooms throughout. That number has now been scaled down to 27 bedrooms. The majority of the apartments are planned to be single-bedroom units. The lobby entrance for the apartments is proposed for Wharton Street. The cutback in retail space along Wharton now allows, instead, for two rowhomes to be built into the development. These current plans do not include changes to the property with the rectory.


The concerns of the community mirrored those of previous meetings with the major issue being related to parking. Since the development has no parking for 18 units, the community is concerned about the effect it will have on the surrounding neighborhood. During the presentation, the project’s lawyer, Brett Feldman, expressed that the addition of parking would be a “disaster we’d be bringing to this spot.”

Another thought from residents was about keeping the lot as residential, with it’s current RSA-5 zoning, to just build single-family dwellings instead of creating a four-story mixed-use development.

Developer Paul Mirabello has previously stated that the project won’t move forward without more support from the community. When a straw poll was taken at the end of the presentation, the majority of the approximately 40 people in attendance voted against this project.

You can check out previous renderings for 9th and Wharton here.

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19 Responses to Updated 9th and Wharton development presented with ‘significant changes,’ community still not on board

  1. Anthony December 9, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Why is the community so confused on this? Traffic gridlock would be MUCH worse if the development included parking because it would encourage drivers to live there. And public spaces would still be removed from the street, reducing public parking. Honestly, these people need to get out of their heads and face reality.

    The demographic for this development, with no parking, will lean heavily toward those without needs for a car. And with less units, the risk is reduced. Someone needs to greenlight this to move forward. Enough of the community meetings and BS.

    • JMG December 9, 2015 at 11:05 am #


    • Anthony December 9, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      Note to Mirabello: The latest changes are more than reasonable. Do whatever you can to just push this project forward. Community support is important, but the only thing that these neighbors will support is more row homes (or a grass, urine-soaked lot). They should not be able to stop something that is a good step forward for the neighborhood and you’ve been patient enough.

      • katie s. December 9, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

        You understand that this decision will be made by the ZBA, right? And that the district councilman came out in opposition to this project at the last ZBA hearing because of the community opposition, right? It’s easy to say that the community should not be able to derail a good project but that’s not how it works in reality.

        The ZBA seemed to indicate at the previous meeting that they weren’t inclined to support this project or a rezoning recommended by the district plan because of the opposition. When no supporters of this project attend PSCA meetings or write in support of the project, the decision-making body assume the majority of the neighborhood is opposed. They aren’t exactly reading the comments here.

        The project is going back to the ZBA on 12/23. If no one supports it, it will likely be denied and there’s not much the developer can do, beyond appealing the decision.

        • Anthony December 9, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

          I get it, district councilmen like to be re-elected. And I also get it that the ZBA knows very little about good planning, bending to the will of councilmen and pro-parking advocates.

  2. Lou_100x December 9, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    Calling Mayor-Elect Kenney….

    As he said in his Town Hall meeting: STFU with the “but….parking” whine!

  3. Evan December 9, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    The way people whine over anything that may make driving the least bit more difficult really sounds like the desperation of someone denied a drug they’re heavily addicted to. But it’s a drug intertwined with their daily livelihood because it’s been perpetuated for generations at levels of culture, family, and government. No one should be surprised.

    • Lee December 9, 2015 at 11:07 am #


    • Alex December 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

      Do I agree with the outcry? No, but to say a car is like a drug is a little close minded. I live in grad hospital, and I bike or use public transit as much as possible, but I own a car because I play ice hockey in northeast philly, and I have family in new jersey. Believe it or not, there are practical reasons to have and need a car in the city. Now, 3 big cadillacs registered out of town like the people of old south philly have, that is a little excessive.

      • TID December 9, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

        Speaking as a recent member of Zipcar, it’s a helluva deal for only needing a car sporadically.It’s amazing how much money you’re left with, as opposed to actually owning a car.

        • Alex December 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

          for me, zipcar would not save me any money, given the odd hours of my games, and the extended trips I sometimes take. I also like that I was able to road trip to maine while the pope was here. I know it makes sense to you, that doesn’t mean it’s an answer to everyone’s needs.

  4. NEMESIS December 9, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    The PSCA zoning board hates this developer and will never give an approval to any project of his because of the development at 9th and Greenwich.

    • Aaron B December 11, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

      Yeah, it’s really a shame because if it weren’t this particular developer, I’d probably support the project.

      I was at the first ZBA meeting, and I was totally underwhelmed by the proposal.
      On top of that, Mirabello did not comport himself in a professional manner.
      At one point, he verbally attacked a community member and neighbor of this property.

      I’d love to see a ground-floor retail, mixed use apartment building go into that lot.
      I’d be happy to see a mix of studios and one-bedrooms, with no bundled parking.

      I just don’t trust Mirabello to do it right.
      If you’ve seen the monstrosity at 9th and Greenwich, you know why.

  5. Lee December 10, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    raise your hand if you live within the boundaries of psca. now raise your hand if you went to the zoning meeting on tuesday evening.

    If you’re not holding both your hand up, you’ve done nothing to actually further the discussion on the project. Everyone knows these are contentious projects. Go to the meetings to support them, don’t just come on here after the fact and gripe about how short sighted the neighbors are. If you are a neighbor and you don’t participate and stand up for good planning principles you are as much to blame as those people who voted in opposition.

    \rant over

    • Anthony December 10, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

      Agreed. Anyone know if you can somehow still vote or attend if you’re not in town for the meeting on the 23rd?

      • Andrew December 10, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

        The neighborhood hasn’t officially voted yet on the proposal. You can still write an email in support. And of course there’s always your councilman you can email/call.

  6. Paul December 11, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

    If cars were not needed, then the streets would be empty. It’s amazing how many people just want to build high density projects when there is an upfront chance to design a properly parked project. Unless you are either not from this neighborhood or have something to gain financially, you should be against this poor plan.

  7. Greg December 17, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Does anyone know where and when the next zoning board meeting will be for this project? I would like to attend in support of it. I’m tired of the same old parking gripe derailing all new projects. Thanks!

    • Albert Stumm December 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      The ZBA hearing is scheduled for 12/23 at 2 pm.

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