Why bother with civic associations when the ZBA doesn’t give two shits?
The Last Supper at Little Pete’s
Most of us know that Little Pete’s, the diner that has been around since the 1970s at 17th and Chancellor, is going away. Some of you don’t know that the day of reckoning is tomorrow. At 9PM, the greasy spoon and staple of Rittenhouse night life will be gone forever.
You probably also heard that the block is being leveled for a bougie hotel. Even though the Warwick is directly across the street and there’s already plenty of rooms to be found right by it along 17th Street.
But this block is special. It got upgraded to CMX-5 commercial thanks to this spot-zoning bill by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
The developer of that block in 2013, Stephen Pouppirt of Clemens Construction, donated directly to Kenyatta Johnson’s political campaign before an election cycle. It’s a campaign donation and development deal that follows up shortly after that smacks of quid pro quo.
Making way for a trendy boutique hotel knock-off
The Hudson Hotel that was proposed for this block has since been rebranded as a Hyatt Centric, which is Hyatt’s knock-off rendition of the trendy boutique hotel. It’s for the traveler who is too afraid to click on a random name with a 4-star ranking on the online booking website but still wants something beyond a Sheraton with the pressed coffee packets in the room.
Honestly this boring gamer CPU case of a hotel could have been plopped down on any number of surface lots around Center City, like the freshly-minted Hoagie City lot, where you can park on Richard Basciano’s namesake shithole of a demolition project where his building collapsed and killed a bunch of people.
Instead what will happen is a business that’s an anchor of Rittenhouse nightlife since the 1970s will be mowed down, greased along with a paltry sum of $5,000 cash in the pocket of a dirty, corrupt city councilman. In its place will be a building that has little interaction with city dwellers.
If you want someplace cheap to eat after going out past 10:30, you’ll just need to go home.
Demolishing a piece of LGBT history
At one point, Little Pete’s was once known as Dewey’s. It was part of a diner chain found all around Philly’s core. The 13th Street Dewey’s which was close to the gay bars in the 1960s was known as the “fag” Dewey’s, where all sorts of characters from the clubs sat and ate along with the cops that patrolled the neighborhood. Several of the managers of the other Dewey’s locations made it known that the 13th Street Dewey’s would be the only exception. Homosexuals would not be welcome at any other location, including the 17th and Chancellor location which homosexuals also frequented.
In the summer of 1965, LGBT activists had protested in various spots around the mid-Atlantic, and Dewey’s had attracted scorn for its discrimination. This prompted two lunch-counter style sit-ins at this diner. Cops made a couple arrests during the first sit-in and then shortly afterwards a second one was staged. This time the police did not make any arrests and left. The owner promptly gave up. By the 1970’s the diner had become a staple of LGBT nightlife, continuing through now.
The lunch counter sit-in was the first of its kind in America. It happened before Stonewall. There’s not so much as a marker or any other visible reminder of that history and its contribution to my own civil rights outside the building, but we always had the diner.
Fuck you, Kenyatta Johnson.
The ZBA approved a mid-block garage that’s less than 9 feet wide
Boxers, the gay-themed sports bar at 1330 Walnut St. has had some opposition since it opened more than a year ago. Continue reading “ZBA Confusion Over Gay Bar Now Heads to Federal Court”