Developer proposes 16 apartments for King of Jeans building at EPX zoning meeting

A developer presented his proposal last night for the King of Jeans building at 1843 E. Passyunk Ave. to the East Passyunk Crossing zoning committee. The plan includes 16 apartments – eight one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom units. That’s a total 24 bedrooms.

King of Jeans Sept 2013

The man behind the plan is Andy Kaplan of Rockland Capital, a former real estate attorney turned commercial real estate developer. His past projects include the shopping center anchored by Ikea on Columbus Boulevard and a commercial project anchored by a Lowe’s at 52nd and Jefferson in West Philadelphia, which he said transformed that blighted area.

“Now I’m selectively picking projects that transform neighborhoods,” he said, adding that his goal is to build something awesome. (He was corrected by EPX Board of Directors Co-Chair Joseph Marino, who said his project could “transform that corner – our neighborhood is already awesome.”)

An earlier proposal by developer Max Glass, scrapped a few months ago, would have been five floors and 55-feet high, including retail space on the first floor, office space on the second floor and nine apartments on the three remaining floors with a roof deck.

The existing structure would be demolished under Kaplan’s plan, and the new building would be still be five stories, but 59 feet tall. There would not be a roof deck.

The ground floor would consist of 2,980 square feet of retail space. Kaplan said his first choice would be a stable retailer who’d be “a strong anchor,” rather than a restaurant. He has two possible retailers in mind, he said, but declined to name them.

Floors two through five would be apartments – four units per floor. He said having a mix of one and two bedrooms (he wants eight of each) give renters more options. They would have stainless steel appliances, granite counters, central air and hardwood floors.

Kaplan’s architect displayed Glass’ rendering at the meeting – Kaplan said his building would look similar.

King of jeans new 2

The issue of parking was raised, given that there could be as many as two dozen new people living in the parking-scarce neighborhood. David Goldfarb, chair of the EPX zoning committee, asked if Kaplan would consider putting a proviso in a certain number of leases saying the tenants wouldn’t be allowed to get parking permits, and Kaplan agreed.

The tenants’ garbage would be kept inside in a trash storage room until trash pickup day, Kaplan said.

Asked if he would consider converting the apartments to condominiums at some point, Kaplan said he was open to it, but it wasn’t likely.

As for the iconic King of Jeans sign, Kaplan said he would ask the neighborhood for ideas.

“Someone mentioned that a museum may want it,” he said. “I would be happy to donate it to something like that.” Here are some other suggestions.

The old King of Jeans building is practically right next to another project that the EPX zoning board heard in July. Under that plan, proposed by developer Steven Savitz, the old Mancini Catering building at 1840-44 S. Camac St. would be demolished to make way for seven single-family homes.

Kaplan and his architect said they would expect to break ground on the King of Jeans building in six months to a year, which Goldfarb said may or may not overlap with Savitz’s project.

Goldfarb took a straw poll at the end of the meeting. Five community members voted in favor of Kaplan’s project, and three voted against it. (Some residents in attendance didn’t vote.)

He explained that the EPX zoning board has an advisory role in all proposed real estate developments – the city’s zoning board of adjustment is the only body that has the authority to make decisions. The EPX zoning board would send a letter to the ZBA reflecting the neighborhood’s opinion of the project, which the ZBA would take into consideration when deciding whether or not to approve the plan.

What do you think of sixteen apartments – a total of 24 bedrooms – in that space?

– Jennifer Lawson, @byjenlawson


13 thoughts on “Developer proposes 16 apartments for King of Jeans building at EPX zoning meeting

  • September 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    no thanks!

  • September 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Condos not apartments

    • September 27, 2013 at 10:59 am



      I think apartments are easier to fill. plus you’ll have single point of control with who rents. If it were condos, many would likely be rented by an absentee condo owner…unless the condo association forbids it, which would make it harder to sell

  • September 26, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    I think that would be great. it is a big property and it would be great if it were occuupied by businesses and people. I don’t have any problem with the number of units. In my opinion, having more people strenghtens the neighborhood.

  • September 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I agree with April – condos, not apartments. And fewer of them. I don’t agree that having more people strengthens the neighborhood – having quality, invested neighbors strengthens the neighborhood.

    I’m not against renters per se, but on my street alone, the house across from me has had new tenants every year for the last four years. That has not strengthened the community on my block.

    And I fail to see how limited parking permits will limit the number of cars – seems more like those drivers would seek out other places to park. And do they mean Philadelphia Parking Permits? How can a lease dictate that? (Genuinely curious if that’s the case.)

    And I’m pretty sure we don’t need this guy to transform our neighborhood – it’s pretty great as is.

    • September 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      Just to point out, that the developers decision to develop condos vs. apartments isn’t a zoning matter.

  • September 27, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I’m fine with this project if they can figure out an answer to the problem issue. I live around the corner from here on Camac and there’s already no parking. With the apartments being built on Camac and Mifflin plus this new project it’s going to get even more ridiculous.

  • September 27, 2013 at 11:20 am

    cg: At the meeting it was acknowledged that if some leases have a clause saying they agree not to get parking permits (yes, city permits, zone 24 I think?) it doesn’t have any teeth. It can’t be enforced by the developer/landlord nor can it be enforced by the city. Someone can have that clause in their lease and still get a permit. And they can also park on blocks that don’t have permit parking. It’s more like “in the spirit of being neighborly and not contributing to the parking nightmare, please consider complying with this clause in your lease” type of thing.

    • September 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      It probably has a bit more teeth than that Jennifer: it would be grounds for terminating the lease. However, finding out that a tenant had violated the provision would be very, very tough.

  • September 27, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    This is ridiculous.
    We obviously do not need more development in our neighborhood.

    What that corner needs is a surface parking lot.
    Obviously that’s the solution to the neighborhood’s parking problem.

    In fact, I oppose all new development unless the plan is to create surface parking.
    It’s always better to have giant, empty buildings (or surface parking lots, of course) on busy corners instead of creating new residential and retail space.

    • September 28, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Aaron B I genuinely can’t tell if you’re being facetious or not. But for real, people need to get over parking.

      Regardless if your an owner or a renter, street parking is really more of a “privilege” than a “right”.

      Its really just time for people to accept the fact that parking will probably never get any easier in the neighborhood and will inevitably only get tougher as time goes on regardless of whether you can get developers to shave off 3-4 units here and there on their projects. So really in the end all you’ve served to do is dumb down the quality of development in the neighborhood for nothing.

      We’ve shaped our city’s built environment around the car for 50+ years now and it’s left us w/ blighting surface lots, ugly parking garages, and uninspiring development patterns. How about we take a note from the old heads and shape the next 50 years of development around people instead of cars.

      • October 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

        He was being sarcastic.

  • October 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Those look pretty cool! Hopefully, everything goes well with those building plans!

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