In West Philly, particularly on the blocks surrounding the Baltimore Avenue commercial corridor, we’ve talked more about large scale mixed-use development, business openings and community planning than smaller scale new construction projects. Think Apple Lofts and Croydon, or the unique West Philly stories about projects about the Dirt Factory and saving Saint Bernard Garden. Or questions about whether a Subway should come to Baltimore Avenue.
Today, we have the story of plans for development of four-story mixed-use property with five apartments and ground floor commercial space at 4812 Baltimore Ave., a few doors down from Mariposa. For many years, the lot has been vacant but occupied by community garden plots. But no one has come forward saying it’s their garden or attempted to save the plots, according to Cedar Park Neighbors (CPN).
Developers from Diversified Reality Ventures, Stephen Danastorg and Brian Mays, presented their plans to construct the building to neighbors and members of Cedar Park Neighbors during a public meeting late in January.
The overwhelming majority of comments offered by community members and collected and reviewed by CPN stated the current designs illustrated a façade that’s out of keeping with the character of the neighborhood, according to Shawn Markovich, a member of the CPN zoning committee.
“It’s a building I think you can have anywhere in Philadelphia,” she said.
Distinctly West Philly homes across the street
CPN requested that developers make changes to façade design as well as increase the size of the commercial space from the current 650 sqft. Developers plan to use only the front half of the first floor for commercial space, leaving the back half as room for a one-bedroom apartment. Their plans call for a mix of one-bedrooms of about 775 sqft for around $1100 and three-bedrooms of about 1100 sqft.
Developers presented to the ZBA on January 30th, and the case was held for discussion. We weren’t at the hearing, but we’d guess that it was held to consider whether changes to the designs should be required, to meet the wishes of the community. Is it unreasonable for the neighborhood to ask for protruding bay windows and a front porch, like all the other homes on the block? Or should the developers be able to go with whatever design they desire?
“Everyone wants to see the lot developed,” said Markovich. “We would like it to fit into the scale and feel of the neighborhood.”