A lot of potential

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To the Editor:

Recently, a developer proposed the building of an apartment complex on the parking lot site at 13th and Shunk streets. The amenities would have been first-class (hardwood flooring, granite countertops, etc.) and the units would not have been subject to subsidized housing. Said contractor had a strong track record of fine, upscale projects, namely, the new Independence Court housing at Front and Christian streets. In addition, a possible long-term goal of the site would have been for the apartments to ‘go condo.’ 

This would have been a huge opportunity for the neighborhood, bringing up property values, infusing the area with new life and stabilizing it for the distant future. But, sadly, many of the residents could not see past losing the parking lot. There also were concerns about traffic and the effect of construction on the neighborhood. All of the above concerns have a degree of validity, but frankly they pale in comparison to losing out on this valuable opportunity. 

First off, the City will not keep it a parking lot forever. Philadelphia is in dire need of tax dollars, and currently the site pays no property tax. Second, and more importantly, the site is already zoned a commercial space. The developer was willing to work with the neighborhood to refine the plan. Admittedly, the requested height of the building was a stretch of the norm, but a proposal of plan adjustment was put forward at the community meeting, which was not required. It was a gesture of good faith toward the neighbors. We will not be so lucky if the site is purchased by a low-end corporate retail chain, fast-food establishment or slumlord.

So, here’s hoping Dollar Tree, KFC or an anonymous real-estate investor group from New York City isn’t on the lookout for a site to develop.

Frank Baldino
South Philadelphia

Send a letter to the South Philly Review at editor@southphillyreview.com. Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification purposes.

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Comments 1 - 18 of 18
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1. Anonymous said... on Jan 10, 2013 at 01:50PM

“Mr. Baldino you obviously don't live in the immediate area of this parking lot. This developer wanted to build 80 apartments but only supply 50 parking spots for the apartment residents. Where do you think those excess 30 cars will park? You got it...in the neighborhood. That is assuming each residence has 1 car only. Plus you have the already displaced 125 customers of this parking lot who are scrambling to find a spot. This apartment building was a bad idea to begin with and I am glad that the idea got shot down.”

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2. Cantfindaparkingspot said... on Jan 10, 2013 at 01:58PM

“Adding a 80 unit apartment building with only 50 parking spots in addition to closing the parking lot to its paying customer (125 total) would only have aggravated an already stressful parking situation.

Mr. Baldino, I would love to know where you reside. Because you are obviously not in touch with the realities of this neighborhood.

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3. Richie said... on Jan 10, 2013 at 03:18PM

“I, too, am glad it is not going to happen. We don't need more houses in the area. We need less! We need to get rid of the existing blight before more construction is done.”

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4. Frank Baldino said... on Jan 11, 2013 at 03:31PM

“For the record, I do live in the neighborhood.


Frank Baldino”

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5. Anonymous said... on Jan 13, 2013 at 05:21PM

“Move to the Reserve @ Packer Park and never worry about parking again. I pity the fools who can't find parking..... LOL!!!!!!”

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6. Anonymous said... on Jan 14, 2013 at 01:49PM

“Move into an overpriced home in the Reserve? No thanks, I'll deal with the parking issues in my neighborhood. It always amazes me when people from Packer Park talk to people who don't live there. Its always, "well just move to Packer Park and your problems will be over". Here's a news flash. Once the property taxes go into effect 2014 you will see a lot of people moving OUT of packer park. Mark my words. Another thing that always amazes me is the prices that these Packer Park homes go for. 300k-400K? For a rowhome? You must be out of your mind !!!!!”

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7. Eugene VanArsdale said... on Jan 16, 2013 at 02:33PM

“I attended the meeting and what Frank writes is very true. If the current non-profit doesn't deed this land to your civic group all your doing is kicking the can down the street. You can argue if the project would have been best for the neighborhood what you can't argue is the current zoning and someone else who you can't stop from building.”

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8. Frank Baldino said... on Jan 16, 2013 at 07:09PM

“Thank you, Eugene. I'm certainly grateful for your constructive input. Hopefully my letter will wake some folks up.”

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9. Cantfindaparkingspot said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 10:12AM

“Eugene....you attended this meeting. How many people do you remember speaking up in support of this development? I counted ONE. Everyone else there was ADAMENTLY opposed to it. The people in attendance at this meeting represent only a sliver of the total neighborhood population. What do you think the rest of the residents, not in attendance at this meeting, would have had to say if they also attended? I bet money they would also be against the idea as well.
This lot was gifted the community for the BENEFIT of the community. Not to line the pockets of some millionaire developer who smugly sat there throughout the meeting without a word to say. Only relying on his arrogant lawyer to field questions from the community.

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10. Eugene VanArsdale said... on Jan 18, 2013 at 01:34PM

“Cantfindaparkingspot. My point was simple. If you don't want this then the land must be in the name of your civic group. I remember one person speaking up in favor and a lot of people yelling. Your welcome Frank.”

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11. Frank Baldino said... on Jan 18, 2013 at 02:48PM

“Everyone needs to understand that the neighbors do not own the lot. And the owner, despite being a non-profit organization, is a private entity. No one, including myself, wants to see anyone lose their parking spot. But I’d much rather see a market rate apartment building than a McDonald's. Because the fact of the matter is if McDonald's comes along and wants to buy the land, those in opposition have no ground to stop them. Put your anger aside and look at the situation objectively. First, look at neighborhoods adjacent to a McDonald's - Broad and Snyder, 4th and Oregon, 24th and Oregon. Then look at neighborhoods where apartments like the ones proposed came into play - once blighted areas like Queen Village or the Graduate Hospital area. The former are places I would not walk with my daughter. While the latter, are areas that in the process of renewal and protection from future blight. I hope to God you do get to keep the lot - because the potential alternatives are not good.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Jan 19, 2013 at 03:30PM

“Frank why are using McDonalds as your example? Who said anything about that corporation? Bottom line is this.... The adjoining neighborhood of this lot will never take your position no matter how many talking points you make. I'd like to know how long you and Eugene drive around now looking for a parking spot. There are days I spend over an hour looking. I don't have the money to move so I am stuck for now. Dumping all those cars into the neighborhood will make me lose my mind.”

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13. Frank Baldino said... on Jan 19, 2013 at 04:36PM

“Well good luck to you nonetheless. And nice speaking with you. May I ask your name?”

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14. Anonymous said... on Jan 19, 2013 at 06:25PM

“Nice speaking to you also. However, I choose to remain anonymous.

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15. PMOF said... on Jan 22, 2013 at 07:15AM

“I live on 13th St across from the lot, which is not exactly an asset itself to the neighborhood. However, a 5 to 7 story complex is not the answer to stablizing or improving the area either. We alrady have a busy fire staion at the corner and are in close proximnity to at least 3 schools. We also "enjoy" 3 bars that add to the transient parking congestion and overall traffic problems. Also consider that the developer wanted to place the entrance to his complex on Oregon Ave, which leaves to obvious conclusion as to where the loading dock and trash pickups would be, Moyamensinsing Ave. Have you considered what living across from a loading dock would by necessity entail? I'm so sorry I ever bought this house.
Paula Ferrazzano”

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16. Frank Baldino said... on Jan 22, 2013 at 03:39PM

“Thanks for writing, Paula.

What would you prefer to see in place of the lot?


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17. Paula said... on Jan 23, 2013 at 07:06AM

“An enclosed parking garage no more than 3 stories high would benefit the area, particularly if the residents would obtain discounted rates. The garage a few blocks away at Methodist Hospital is an example of such a structure. I would imagine many of the school employees and out of town subway commuters would find it useful.

Another development idea I had was to build a "cul de sac" of "upscale" townhouses with garages. I imagine a reasonably priced little community within a community would sell quickly. This neighborhood's location is ideal for those who work in CC and those who enjoy the various sports and entertainment venues . They're this generation's "yuppies".

I do wish the City would buy the Wells Fargo building and relocate the fire station. It's positively painful to see the fire trucks making the sharp turn at the corner and getting held up by the traffic. The streets department really was foolish to close off Moyamensing at Broad, eliminating that pathway.”

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18. Frank Baldino said... on Jan 23, 2013 at 11:36AM

“Those are wonderful ideas, Paula. I'd support both of them.

You'd be a great asset to the neighborhood association (www.lomophilly.org).

Would you be interested in being involved?




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