Different outcomes for 2 proposals exhibit life without a civic association

Work has begun on a four-unit apartment building at 2008-2010 S. 8th St., on the border of the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association‘s turf. But that’s actually only part of the story.

The real story is how this project contrasts so sharply with one less than two blocks away, at 1939 S. 7th St., which we wrote about in April.

2008-2010 is only two of the three lots. Shame they couldn't do all three at the same time.
2008-2010 S. 8th St., which is two of the three lots pictured. Shame they didn’t do all three at once.

On 8th, the developer went before the EPX zoning committee in April 2012 with a request for six units. Four were approved.

They actually added bars to the windows. Doesn't inspire confidence.
7th and McKean, where they actually added bars to the windows. Doesn’t inspire confidence.

On 7th Street, there was no registered community organization to present to. That was why we called 7th and McKean – between EPX, Pennsport, Dickinson Square West, Lomo and Whitman civics – a civic no-man’s land.

Apparently taking advantage of that lack of civic oversight, the developer appears to have crammed as many apartments inside as possible. The permits listed six bathrooms over three floors in 4,200 square feet, but they made no mention of the number of apartments. Notice the three separate doors to get into the building.

Interesting, no?

Civic associations often object to large numbers of small apartments in multiunit buildings because they feel they encourage the buildings to attract more transient renters. The thinking goes that renters are less likely to care about their neighborhood than homeowners or long-term renters. And if you’ve ever had a tiny apartment, you’ll remember how you were just dying to get out of there.

The good news is that the surrounding civics recently met with residents of the area to discuss forming an RCO.

The issue of what density is optimal is debatable, and we encourage you to weigh in in the comments. But the difference between having a civic and not having one is undeniable. Thoughts?