The superblock at the Northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Broad Street is on Bart Blattstein‘s radar screen and this week was a public viewing for what appears to be a large (500-800 unit!) residential/retail complex that will finally fill in an ugly hole in the G-Ho/Point Breeze/Hawthorne/BV nexus.
I’m sure no one has yet told Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze or Point Breeze Organizing Committee, the two main anti-gentrification groups in the vicinity about the massive tsunami of gentrification that is soon headed their way. All we can say is: we hope this is all by-right development. The parcels within this city block are all currently zoned CMX-5, which is the only zoning category that permits dense skyscrapers by-right.
EF goes to lengths to avoid mentioning the one thing you can do other than live in your gilded condo wracking yourself with grief: sell your real-estate at a great loss and abandon the neighborhood. That will surely return the neighborhood to the state it was before you came in, overbid, and helped push real estate values higher.
As long as you stay, you’re stealing some poor indigent person’s grandmother’s teeth in the middle of the night and dumping her body in the river so you can use her house to create jewelry to sell on Etsy.
Point Breeze, you never let me down. Enter 2010 Wharton Street, a dilapidated warehouse that is the proposed site of nearly 22 new homes. [Correction: at the time of the PlanPhilly article it was 50, then the proposals were chopped]. It is an entire block that is completely boxed in by residential and commercial property on all sides, this ICMX-zoned industrial building is a pre-zoning code relic of the past, with no viable industrial use going forward. But Councilman Kenyatta Johnson doesn’t see it this way.
After many months of hem and haw, plus vociferous shouting by Tiffany Green of “Concerned Citizens” of Point Breeze (remember them?) and a direct plea to the ZBA to deny the residential variances needed to redevelop the property, the Zoning Board of Adjustment finally issued a denial. Neighbors who own and live in property immediately adjacent to the site were astonished. Letters from nearby residents who live with a block of the parcel to the Zoning Board of Adjustment and to Councilman Johnson were summarily ignored.
Further, a deep source within the Philadelphia City Planning Commission confirms that this property’s zoning is no longer relevant and is likely to be changed to RSA-5; which is single-family residential. Over on the Newbold Neighbors Facebook page, tensions reached a head as Steve Cobb, a staffer for Councilman Johnson, argued with residents about the councilman’s opposition to the project. It all started with this one question:
Steve quickly tried to hide behind the Registered Community Organization that Johnson selected as the coordinating RCO for the project: Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze.
Enter Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush, who had this to say about how CCPB gauges public opinion on development projects. Steve repeats his plea for a private constituent contact, which he explains he’ll fob off on to the RCO…
Enter Kenyatta Johnson… Feibush responds… Neighbors caught between the barbs and living near the blight chime in…
They also take issue with the ZBA itself…
Does Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze hold meetings and let people vote who don’t even live in the community?
From then on Cobb and Johnson both bowed out and ran away from their constituents on the Facebook thread. PDQ contacted Ori Feibush and he says he is mulling over his legal options. Meanwhile, we have requested the ZBA transcripts so we can see what testimony Councilman Johnson’s staff actually gave for preserving a dilapidated warehouse, completely surrounded by single family homes and commercial property.
Does Councilman Johnson expect the industrial 19th century to make a comeback anytime soon?
On PBOC’s Facebook page appeared this after we discovered a PBOC anti-gentrification activist had flipped her house for a sweet-ass gain:
1) She posted a $104K windfall gain on the sale of one’s home in three years time. That is a major return on investment. Many home rehabbers in Philadelphia couldn’t even dream of 186% on the purchase price. It more than canceled out the financing of the house. How did she benefit from this windfall? Gentrification. The very gentrification PBOC so criticizes with hypocrisy.
2) Philadelinquency.com supports #YesAllWomen #AllWomenCan #YesAllTransWomen and we personally despise TERF feminists. We suspect within PBOC there exists some streaks of TERFism among them. We’ve yet to root out those trans*phobic haters but they’ll surface eventually.
3) Painting PDQ as anti-woman is all they have when faced with cold hard documentation of a real estate transaction-windfall, which shows you just about how much they actually have.
They once delivered flyers to neighborhood doorsteps in Point Breeze claiming I was anti-homosexual. In the midst of a zoning dispute. Fun!