Zoning Board Trancripts for 3 Rector October 4, 2006
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2 CITY OF PHILADELPHIA
ZONING BOARD of ADJUSTMENT
3 PUBLIC HEARING
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2006
MINUTES of FORMAL HEARING
LOCATION: 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor
7 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
REPORTED BY: SUSAN L. SINGLAR,
8 COURT REPORTER
10 PROPERTY: 3 Rector Street
DAVID L. AUSPITZ, CHAIRPERSON
ELEANOR M. DEZZI, BOARD MEMBER
SAMUEL STATEN, JR., BOARD MEMBER
JUDITH EDEN, BOARD MEMBER
REVEREND WILLIAM E. HALL, BOARD MEMBER
18 ALSO PRESENT:
19 CHARMAINE BUTLER, ADMINISTRATIVE ASST.
20 PAULA BRUMBELOW, PLANNING COMMISSION
CLASS ACT REPORTING AGENCY
22 Registered Professional Reporters
23 1420 Walnut Street 133-H Gaither Drive
Suite 1212 Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
24 Philadelphia, PA 19103 (856) 235-5108
1 MS. DEZZI: 3 Rector Street,
2 calendar number 06-0812.
3 MR. FELDMAN: Mr. Chairman and
4 members of the Board, good afternoon. My name is
5 Brett Feldman, 260 South Broad Street,
6 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19102. I represent the
7 applicant, the Rector Street Associates. Their
8 principals are here today, Mr. David Waxman, to my
10 right, and Mr. Ron Barzilay, back here, also to my
right. We're joined by Mr. Jonathan Broh, project
11 architect from JK Roller Architects, Bob Swarbrick,
12 who is one of the representatives of the Manayunk
13 Development Corporation that is in support of this
15 I also have Mr. John Gallery,
16 executive director of the Preservation Alliance,
17 who is in support of this application and has been
18 very instrumental here. I know Ms. Chapman from
19 former Councilman Nutter's office is here. I
20 believe she has a letter of support and will also
21 be providing some testimony today.
22 I passed up to the Zoning Board
23 Exhibits 1 through 17, which I would ask be
24 incorporated into the record here with particular
1 attention to the support letter from then
2 Councilman Nutter's office, letters of support from
3 Manayunk Development Corporation, Preservation
4 Alliance, as well as the Historic Commission
7 This property, 3 Rector Street,
which is before you right here in these pictures
8 here and then here is a rendering of our proposal
9 is in the Manayunk -- it's a quasi-historical
10 district in Manayunk. The preservation
11 restrictions aren't in the traditional Historical
12 Preservation Code. They're actually in the
13 Property Maintenance Code. It's kind of a quirk,
14 which has caused us a lot of concertation, but we
15 had to go to the Historical Commission.
16 We ultimately received from the
17 Historical Commission what you see in front of you
18 today, unanimous approval, every single Historical
19 Commission member voted to support this
20 application. This is a project that's been going
21 on for 18 months with the Historical Commission and
22 the preservation community.
23 The project is -- to orient the
24 Board -- it's a little bit off the beaten trail, I
1 guess, in Manayunk. This is Rector Street. Main
2 Street runs along here. This is Rector Street,
3 sloping down to the tow path and the Manayunk
4 canal. On the right side here is the Canal House
5 Apartments, which is a very attractive, I believe,
6 adaptive reuse for residential. That's right
7 there. And then there's a mix of commercial -
8 there's a mix of commercial -- a mix of commercial
9 and retail along Main Street here.
10, The building, itself, has,
11 obviously, four different sides. This is what is
12 there right now on Rector Street, that's the front
13 of the building, and then a series of pictures here
14 to show what is there right now. This is on a
15 private drive that runs -- if you come down Rector
16 Street, you make a left, and private drive that
17 runs to here.
18 The property has a unique history
19 in Manayunk. It was used for many years as a mill,
20 harnessing the water that ran along the canal and
21 tow path. From about 1940 to about late 1990s the
22 property was used by Mr. Ray Labov and his family
23 for the sale of plumbing supplies, heating
24 supplies, and the family ran it up into the 1990s
1 when the reality, kind of the Home Depot/Lowe's
2 phenomena, where it's tough to compete against
3 folks that have massive buildings made it
4 impossible for them to continue.
5 They actually sold the business
6 to someone else, who tried to continue selling
7 plumbing and heating supplies there. That person
8 couldn't make a go of it, and it has sat now empty
9 since about 2000, 2001, despite listing agreements,
10 despite -- actually, if you take a look at even our
11 rendering, this is a sign that says: Building
12 available that still remains there to this date.
13 They have tried listing. They tried to sell this.
14 They have been unable to sell it throughout this
16 The property, as I can tell you,
17 here's a side that runs along this private drive
18 here. You can see the wholesale and plumbing
19 pictures and drawings with toilets and things like
20 that. This is the rear.
21 The situation that we're in is
22 we're about -- 90 percent of the lot area is
23 covered by the building, so there's really no room
24 for us to expand out to the side, to the rear.
1 This is not our property. The property line is
2 right here on the building line here, so we don't
3 have any space to expand backwards. Again, this is
4 the view looking from Main Street.
6 parking? MR. AUSPITZ: Do you have any
7 MR. FELDMAN: There's no parking
8 there. There's no parking. There's no loading
9 zone. There's no nothing. Currently, for our use,
10 we are proposing parking.
11 MR. SCHIRMER: How many spaces?
12 MR. FELDMAN: Twenty-one parking
14 MR. SCHIRMER: How many units?
15 MR. FELDMAN: Twenty units. We
16 have more than one-for-one parking here.
17 What we're looking to do is -
18 the idea here is really to save this piece of
19 Manayunk history. We've heard from the community.
20 We're heard from the preservation community.
21 There's got to be a way to save this building but
22 still come up with a reuse that makes this viable,
23 and that's what we've done here.
24 What we have come up with is we
1 are saving the front facade on Rector Street.
2 We're saving, which I think is probably the most
3 special side, this tow path side here along the
4 canal. We're saving the rear. And what we're
6 doing, and parts of the side, and what we're doing
is having a five-story addition on top that
8 provides the 20 living units.
We're also providing 21 parking
9 spaces that will be accessed along this private
10 drive here on the side. One of-the things that
11 we're able to do is come up with a way, instead of
12 cutting into the front for parking, we're able to
13 come in on the side. There's some areas that they
14 had used for entrances before that were not exactly
15 lined up specifically with those spots. We're
16 mimicking those areas to have the parking come up
17 on the side here.
18 Each one of these units, and you
19 can see on this rendering here, has its own view of
20 the canal, has windows onto the canal, has its own
21 balconies, the 20 units here. So what we're trying
22 to do is -- the goal of the Manayunk Development
23 Corporation and then Councilman Nutter is to really
24 provide eyes on this canal area, to really bring
1 the vibrancy to this canal area, and that's what
2 we're doing by having these balconies; by having
3 the windows.
4 What we have also done here is we
5 have added a direct bicycle pedestrian access point
6 from the bottom of our building here at the
8 basement level straight onto the canal so folks can
walk -- our residents can walk straight into the
9 building and straight out of the building to use
10 this canal, to ride. their bicycles. And that's
11 really one of the main attractions of this building
12 is that interaction between the tow path, the canal
13 and our residents. We think this is a sensitive
14 way to save this building.
15 As you can see by the pictures,
16 it's continued to, unfortunately, deteriorate as no
17 users have been found. It doesn't make sense for
18 warehousing because it doesn't have a loading area.
19 It's very small. For retail it doesn't work
20 because it's really kind of off the beaten trail.
21 It doesn't work, as far as there's no frontage on
22 Main Street, which is the prime manayunk retail
24 And I think the old preservation
1 community has come to the conclusion, and this
2 time, this took over 18 months, that this reuse
3 that we're showing today is the best way to save
4 this building so this building can continue to tell
5 the story of Manayunk's past, its connection to the
6 water, its mill history, 20 years from now, 50
7 years from now, 75 years from now, instead of it
8 continuing to be at danger, at risk for something
9 to happen to it.
10 That is our presentation, as far
11 as what we're showing here. We have got materials,
12 exemplars that we can show you. We have numerous
13 other plans that we had shown the Historical
14 Commission and Historical Commission staff and the
15 community. But what you see today is really our
16 best shot at a reuse of this building, and we're
17 very pleased with all the support that we have
18 received, support from immediate neighbors, support
19 from the Manayunk Development Corporation, the
20 Councilman, and the preservation community.
21 MR. AUSPITZ: Is anybody here in
22 opposition to this?
23 MR. SCHIRMER: Yes. My name is
24 Hal, H-A-L, last name Schirmer, S-C-H-I-R-M-E-R,
1 1805 Ridge Road, Sellersville, 18960 here for
2 Manayunk Neighborhood Council. Manayunk
3 Neighborhood Council is the recognized civic
4 association in the area. The civic association has
5 never really met or reviewed the plans. These
6 properties are existing commercial.
7 MR. AUSPITZ: Were from you
9 MR. SCHIRMER: I've been up here
10 with SCRUB.
11 The concern that the neighbors
12 have, and that I'm here to represent, is under the
13 Zoning Code, this building could be reused for any
14 of a whole bunch of different permitted uses. This
15 building is currently in a situation where it can
16 be resurrected, can be refurbished.
17 The testimony to the Historical
18 Commission was from Mr. Labov that the building was
19 in grave shape. Actually, we have a Deed from Mr.
20 Labov, since there is no Agreement of Sale in the
21 record to explain who actually owned the property.
22 Finally, the indication is that the property had
23 been for sale at, I believe, a million dollars and
24 other records I have --
1 MR. AUSPITZ: The Board never
2 asks numbers.
3 MR. SCHIRMER: The concern is
4 that, and actually, I should formally point out and
5 ask the Board to incorporate by reference the
6 records of the Historical Commission and the
7 records in the L & I files since the Historical
8 Commission was presented with financial hardship
9 information about well, how much did you want for
10 the property, were you offered -- how much-were you
11 offered for the property, and was that enough.
12 And we think that the sales show
13 that the property isn't valueless. The property
14 was valued somewhere 750,000, 800,000, a million
16 MR. AUSPITZ: Let me put this on
17 the record because you're travelling on ice.
18 You're saying, in essence, that somebody offered it
19 at a low-enough price somebody else could buy it
20 and reuse it. We don't put numbers on because
21 we're the land use. Whether somebody makes a
22 billion dollars or losses a billion dollars is not
23 for this Board.
24 Counsel, you said you still have
1 a sign hanging on this?
2 MR. FELDMAN: There is a sign
3 that is still hanging here today as we speak. This
4 property has now sat for over five years, at least
5 five years. My clients actually had this under
6 agreement now for about 18 months. It's been
7 extended in the agreement.
8 MR. STATEN: How many community
9 meetings have there been?
10 MR. FELDMAN: We have had -- with
11 Manayunk Neighborhood Council, we have had four
12 meetings. We have had four meetings.
13 MR. STATEN: Were you at any of
14 the meetings, counsel, actually you, counselor?
15 MR. SCHIRMER: No. I have not
16 represented the Manayunk Neighborhood Council at
17 the meetings. There was a continuance to meet
19 MR. STATEN: When did you get to
20 represent Manayunk Council?
21 MR. SCHIRMER: Approximately one
22 month ago.
23 MS. DEZZI: How long have these
24 meetings been taking place?
1 MR. SCHIRMER: There have been no
2 official meetings. Actually, there was a
3 continuance to meet with the neighbors. However,
4 it appears the developer didn't want to meet to
5 discuss zoning issues. They only wanted to discuss
6 what kind of brick should be on the exterior. So
7 the actual meeting schedule -
8 MR. AUSPITZ: What kind of zoning
9 issues were they supposed to discuss, as compared
10 to getting the input from the residents about the
12 MR. STATEN: And Historical
14 MR. FELDMAN: Mr. Chairman, if I
15 may, I just want to -- this has been going on for
16 18 months. I have got a time line, and I don't
17 know if the Board wants to hear the whole time line
18 here. But because we had to go to the Historical
19 Commission get that approval before we came to the
20 Zoning Board, we front loaded this whole process
21 where we met repeatedly, three different occasions,
22 with Manayunk Neighborhood Council.
23 We were told -- initially we had
24 a plan to demolish this building, just to give you
1 the full flavor of this. Initially, we had a plan
2 to demolish this building. We sat down with the
3 neighbors, and Mr. Smith, who is over here, at one
4 of the hearings -- there was various appeals -- at
5 one of the hearings proposed to us: Why don't you
6 look at an overbuild. Why don't you look at saving
7 the facade, saving all this great historical fabric
8 here and do something like that.
9 And I don't know if he thought we
10 would take that seriously or not, but. we did. We
11 went out and we got a new architecture team. We
12 got a new architecture firm. This is the second
13 architecture firm. And we came up with this plan
14 that you see in front of us today. We then met
15 with them twice more to review an overbuild
16 concept. We got the response from them,
17 essentially, that we have tacit support and we're
18 going to need some detail.
19 We then went to the Historic
20 Commission, first the Architectural Committee. We
21 found out the day before that committee hearing, in
22 a one-line E-mail, we have decided to oppose the
23 application. It came to the Architectural
24 Committee and opposed the application.
1 We then went to the Historical
2 Commission, and the Historical Commission -- Mr.
3 Smith got up at the Historical Commission,
4 testified that this is probably the best we can
5 do. There's some details, work with us. We got
6 unanimous approval from the Historical Commission.
7 We then scheduled a meeting to
8 sit down with Mr. Smith and his group, I guess that
9 would be the fourth or fifth time at that point.
10 The day before we got the appeal filed when they
11 then appealed the Historical Commission.
12 We have reached out to them over
13 and over. And the reality here is, I think at the
14 end of the day, they think that this can be turned
15 into a farmer's market, this can be turned into
16 something here, despite the fact that a farmer's
17 market failed on Main Street already; that this can
18 just -- something can happen with this existing
19 building, and there's no changes should be made to
20 this building. That's what we have essentially
21 been told.
22 We had said we would enjoy the
23 opportunity to sit down, talk about materials,
24 items like that that we could then work with the
1 Historical Commission and the back and forth, no.
2 I don't know what to say. I know the developers
3 have told me I'm crazy to continue to reach out,
4 but we did.
5 MR. AUSPITZ: We know Mr. Smith.
6 Quite frankly, he's well recognized by this Board.
7 Why don't you tell us what is
9 MR. SMITH: Sure. My name is
10 Kevin Smith, 293 Hermitage Street, Philadelphia,
11 19127, President of Manayunk Neighborhood Council.
12 Contrary to their claims, the
13 developers have not met in good faith with the
14 community. They did appear at our April, 2005
15 general meeting with a plan to demolish the
16 building. At that meeting, there was uniform
17 opposition to the plan, and a vote was taken to
18 oppose the development. The developers then went
19 on to the Historical Commission to seek the
20 demolition, were denied.
21 In December of 2005 they met
22 again with us, a portion -- or they met with our
23 Board, and at that meeting they showed us this
24 sketch. This was the only thing they showed us.
1 They wouldn't let us keep a copy. They wouldn't
2 let us take picture of it. They wouldn't let us
3 photocopy it, and said: Will you support our
4 project. We said: That's insufficient
6 MR. AUSPITZ: Counsel, were you
7 there for this?
8 MR. FELDMAN: I was not at that
10 MR. AUSPITZ: So you, did this by
12 MR. BARZILAY: Yes.
13 MR. STATEN: Was there any
14 conversation between you and counsel about changing
15 the front of the building, as opposed to demolition
16 on the building?
17 MR. SMITH: When they -- at their
18 appeal hearing, they appealed to the Historical -
19 the Historical Commission denied the demolition.
20 They appealed that denial to the Board of Building
21 Standards. At the Board of Building Standards I
22 did suggest that they could consider, rather than
23 demolishing the building, modifying it. We
24 suggested some form of expansion or overbuild might
1 be preferable to demolition. But I have to say, in
2 no way is that preapproval or an obligation to
4 approve whatever -MR. STATEN: They're talking to
5 the president of the association.
6 MR. SMITH: What's that?
7 MR. STATEN: They're talking to
8 the president of the association. If you make a
9 suggestion that you're putting out -
10 MR. SMITH: And in fact, we have
11 never rejected overbuild or modification of the
12 building on some sort of principle that the
13 building cannot be touched.
14 MR. AUSPITZ: So why are you here
16 In other words, what would you
17 like to see, or what don't you like? Tell us.
18 MR. SMITH: We're here today
19 because, one, we think reuse of this historic mill
20 building, it was the offices for the Campbell
21 Manufacturing Company built in the mid 1870s, is
22 the only remaining part of that mill. We think it
23 has an extremely viable reuse just the way it is.
24 We have identified 61 other
1 Page 19
businesses in the neighborhood that would work in
2 that building, from businesses right off of Main
3 Street to within a few blocks of Main Street
4 rehabbing old buildings.
5 MR. AUSPITZ: They're saying this
6 has been available for five years.
7 Where are the other people?
8 MR. SMITH: We understand there
9 have been some offers -- they have claimed that
10 they received no credible offers on the property
11 but have never offered up what offers they got.
12 MR. FELDMAN: Because we didn't
13 get any.
14 MR. SMITH: I know from a
15 conversation with David Richards of Richards Apex
16 that he made an offer on the property. And Raymond
17 Labov -
18 MR. AUSPITZ: What business is he
20 MR. SMITH: Richards Apex, it's
21 an industrial company immediately behind this, this
23 MR. FELDMAN: Is Mr. Richards
1 MR. SMITH: I don't see him here.
2 MR. AUSPITZ: It's hearsay.
3 MR. FELDMAN: Absolutely.
4 MR. STATEN: I'm a little
5 confused, because when you found out they were
6 going to demo the building, you made a statement
7 that we would rather see the building stay, and if
9 you have to do some overbuild, then that would be
considered. But now you come back and say: Now
10 you're not going to demo, you turn around and say:
11 Now I want you to use the building as is.
12 MR. SMITH: Absolutely not. What
13 we're saying is the best reuse for this building is
14 as is. And that's -- that's our position -
15 MR. STATEN: You made the
16 statement about the overbuild, and if you had the
17 overbuild. You made that statement.
18 MR. SMITH: Yes.
19 MR. FELDMAN: at the
20 Historical Commission, did you not get up and say,
21 and it's in the notes, that looking at this plan,
22 that this is about the best you can do, and that
23 with some changes, you believe this is something
24 you can support?
1 MR. SMITH: No. That's not what
2 I said. What I said -
3 MR. FELDMAN: I would direct the
4 Board to Exhibit-15, which is the notes of the
5 Historical Commission.
6 MR. AUSPITZ: How high is the
7 building behind this, the red brick building behind
9 MR. SMITH: That's Venturi Scott.
10 MR. AUSPITZ: That's the
11 gentleman you said made the offer?
12 MR. SMITH: No. That building is
13 not visible in that picture. We do have pictures
14 that would show it.
15 MR. FELDMAN: Mr. Chairman, it's
16 absolutely in scale with what is in front of it
17 here on Rector Street, and we have actually tried
18 to mimic the materials as much as possible here.
19 MR. SMITH: We can hand up an
20 aerial photo that shows the surrounding buildings.
21 MS. EDEN: Mr. Feldman, I'm
22 looking at 15, and I'm not -- this is what I'm
23 finding. Kevin Smith of the Manayunk Neighborhood
24 Council stated that it would be premature to accept
1 this design, a better design should be demanded.
2 The Council contends that reuse is the best use of
3 the building. He rejected the proposal, which
4 would require major changes to a historical
5 building and asked for a more stringent application
6 of the rules.
7 MR. FELDMAN: That was submitted
8 at a prior hearing when they conceptually approved
9 it. If you look, Ms. Eden -
10 MS. EDEN: You said go to.
11 Exhibit-15. This is what I found.
12 MR. FELDMAN: There's two sets of
13 minutes right here.
14 MS. EDEN: Right here where?
15 MR. FELDMAN: Fourth page, 19, it
16 says at the bottom: The Historical Commission
17 first conceptually approved this application. And
18 then we came back with additional details, what you
19 see today, and then they approved it. So we made
20 modifications from the conceptual to what you see
21 today. And then that's when Mr. Smith made the
22 comments that he made that are reflected in the
24 And Mr. Gallery is here, who
1 needs to leave very shortly for a meeting. He's
2 been integral to this whole process and I would ask
3 Mr. Gallery -
4 MS. DEZZI: Mr. Gallery, were you
5 at the Historic Commission?
6 MR. GALLERY: I attended every
7 meeting of the Architectural Committee of the
8 Historical Commission that was held on this project
9 over the entire 18 months. John Gallery, Executive
10 Director of the Preservation Alliance.
11 Mr. Feldman has already indicated
12 that this has gone on for 18 months, and it started
13 off with the demolition of the building. I think
14 you all know that from the point of view of the
15 Preservation Alliance, we try very hard to make
16 sure the buildings are preserved. And this is an
17 interesting building. Though it looks like a very
18 modest building, it's indicative of the industrial
19 heritage of Manayunk. And we were very strongly
20 opposed, as was the community, as Mr. Smith has
21 testified to its demolition.
22 I always like to see buildings
23 reused. And some of you know my own professional
24 background, in addition to being a preservationist,
1 an economic developer, I look very carefully
2 anytime a developer says: It's not economically
3 feasible to preserve a historic building. I'm very
4 suspicious of those statements.
5 In this case, I really feel that
6 the information that was presented early on to the
7 Historical Commission was quite clear that it
8 actually met the standards that are in the
9 Ordinance; that is, you have to demonstrate that
10 you've tried to sell it. You have to demonstrate
11 that you tried to lease it. You just can't say:
12 It's impossible.
13 And I was strongly convinced that
14 this building did not have the opportunity to be
15 preserved in its current form, and that's why we
16 were very interested when the developer decided to
17 take this approach. The developers will tell you I
18 have looked at this project with them many times.
19 I have told them what I have disliked about
20 previous designs, so has the Historical Commission.
21 These people have bent over backwards to try to
22 design the best project they could design that
23 keeps as much of this historic integrity as
1 I would also like to point out
2 this is on the canal. It's on the tow path. It
3 will bring residential development into the area.
4 It will really make contribution to making this
5 part of Manayunk a really important public
6 recreation area. I think a residential use here is
7 vastly superior to any industrial expansion of the
8 adjacent manufacturer or something of that use. It
9 just has an opportunity to really make a strong
10 contribution to the neighborhood, and I would
11 really strongly endorse the applications that have
12 been made for the variances. I think is an
13 important project to go ahead.
14 I I have a meeting apologize.
15 with the Mayor or, otherwise, I would stay for the
16 whole discussion.
17 MR. AUSPITZ: We appreciate your
18 coming up, as always.
19 MR. FELDMAN: Thank you, Mr.
21 MR. STATEN: Counselor, do we
22 have a copy of this? We need him to look at the
23 statement on page 19.
24 MR. FELDMAN: Yes.
1 MR. STATEN: Mr. Smith, can you
2 read that statement?
3 Did you make that statement?
4 MR. SMITH: Yes. What I would
5 like to say, and as part of my testimony, is that
6 rendering that they have here and that you see
7 there was introduced at the Historical Commission
8 and was the first view of any type of the building
9 that I had ever seen. We had never been given that
10 in advance.
11 MR. STATEN: Did you pass up
12 something saying he gave you something saying this
13 is what it was going to be?
14 MR. FELDMAN: No. Member Staten,
15 that was actually the demolition plan that was back
16 in 2000 -
17 MR. STATEN: All I'm trying to
18 clarify is that it's two different views you got?
19 MR. SMITH: That is not the
20 demolition plan.
21 MR. STATEN: You said somebody
22 gave you this and said: This is what the building
23 is going to look like?
24 MR. SMITH: David Waxman and Ron
1 Barzilay showed us that picture at a meeting and
2 would not let us keep it. That picture I got from
4 the Historical Commission records.
MR. SCHIRMER: Have you seen this
6 MR. SMITH: I saw that picture at
7 the Historical Commission hearing that we're
8 debating now.
9 MR. FELDMAN: And you saw it at
10 the Board of Building Standards when they filed the
11 appeal, which then unanimously denied the appeal by
12 the Board of Building Standards and it was thrown
13 out that day. And that's why the discussion -- why
14 we reached out. We said at the Historical
15 Commission: You said this looked good. He said:
16 Maybe a little changes here and there.
17 That's the discussion, why we
18 opened it up again, for discussion about some of
19 the materials, some things here and there. But if
20 they're talking about wholesale changes, what
21 really happens is we have got to go all the way
22 back to step one. We have got to go back to the
23 Historical Commission and start again, and that's
24 what I suspect is really driving this, is that --
1 MR. AUSPITZ: What kind of
2 changes are you talking about?
3 MR. STATEN: What I'm hearing in
4 his statement, it says that he's accepting it in
5 concept only. It means not necessarily anymore
6 changes, but whatever the final plan is, for them
7 to look at it again, not -
8 MR. SMITH: What our position is
9 and what my position is, we had almost no
10 information to work on.
11 MR. AUSPITZ: Can I just say
12 something? You should have contacted them, or
13 something else, too. And you are also totally
14 remiss by saying you can't keep something. This
15 isn't a little baseball game, sandlot baseball.
16 You should respect the community group if you want
17 community groups to respect you back.
18 I know exactly where Mr. Smith is
19 coming from. But on the other hand, I think we're
20 at a point where we're all realizing that this kind
21 of thing is a use for this. You're not going to
22 get them to leave it just as it is, or somebody
23 would have bought this thing a long time ago.
24 During the height of the economic real estate boom,
1 nobody touched this piece, you follow me, except
2 for this group.
3 MR. FELDMAN: Retail, commercial,
5 MR. SMITH: I understand the
6 Board doesn't want to hear numbers, but if you list
7 a property at twice its value and no one buys it,
8 it's not a hardship. And I don't -,
9 MR. AUSPITZ: But on the other
10, hand, everybody has a right to value their own
11 property. If they can't sell it and they have to
12 sell it, then they will reevaluate until they can
13 sell it. So that's why it's a marketplace. If
14 somebody has the luxury of saying: I get this
15 price. And there's a sign hanging on Front Street,
16 right off of South, two point one million, no
17 contingencies and no offers. The sign is getting a
18 little rusty. I bet if you walked in there and
19 said something, the guy would say: Well, let's sit
20 down and talk about that now because he's had that
21 sign up there when everybody was just throwing
22 buckets of money into real estate. That's not
23 going on now, especially with the banks, and so,
24 it's different.
1 What we're trying to do is to
2 find a way -- the most important part of this whole
3 thing is the canal. Whether they sell 21 units or
4 not, that's the least of our worries. Our worry is
5 to try to keep that feel when you're on the canal.
6 I'm looking at this. If you're walking down here,
7 you're looking at the original mill building here.
8 I mean, granted, you can look up and see there's
9 going to be stuff up here. But we're still keeping
10 the flavor of jogging and everything else on the
11 canal. It's an attempt. If there's a way to
12 modify it or something else, I'm happy to listen to
13 it. So this isn't in stone, but it's pretty much
14 so because it's gone through every board in the
16 MR. SMITH: I want to address a
17 couple of other points. The developer has also
18 mentioned that they offered to meet with us to
19 discuss cosmetic things to the building. I will
20 only point out they made the offer yesterday
21 afternoon and offered to meet with us for 45
22 minutes last night.
23 REVEREND HALL: What cosmetic
24 changes are you referring to?
1 MR. STATEN: What cosmetic
2 changes would there be?
3 What would you want?
4 MR. SMITH: Well, I think at this
5 point we're not sure that this building can be
6 cosmetically fixed by just changing the color of
7 the facade. But that was the offer they made to us
8 regarding community input into this building.
9 The first Historical Commission
10 where they received in-concept approval was for a
11 four story red brick mill-style building, and they
12 came back with a five-story design of a whole
13 different sort. And I notice they have also said
14 that this was 20 units. I know on the application
15 it was 22 units. I don't know if they changed
16 their design.
17 MR. FELDMAN: We did.
18 MR. STATEN: The question I would
19 have: When you made that statement, what concept
20 did they have, the five story or the four story?
21 MR. SMITH: The first statement
22 that -
23 MR. STATEN: No. You. I'm
24 talking about you.
1 MR. SMITH: This one was this
3 building. MR. STATEN: The one that you
4 said approved in concept only, that was the five
6 MS. EDEN: Mr. Feldman, I am
8 I mean, why did your client get
9 conceptual approval for a four story sort of
10 traditional red brick building then decide to
11 pursue a five story modern building?
12 MR. FELDMAN: The conceptual
13 approval from the Historical Commission' was not for
14 a specific design. It was an envelope. It was an
15 envelope, four stories. One of the commissioners,
16 Commissioner wilds -
17 MS. EDEN: Excuse me. I read the
18 minutes. It says: The current proposal differs
19 significantly from the proposal that the Commission
20 approved in concept. The addition is now five, not
21 four stories tall. It is no longer styled like an
22 industrial building. The exterior materials have
23 changed significantly from those shown in the photo
24 simulations submitted with the in-concept
1 proposal. The parking design has been
2 significantly altered with a lot of details about
3 how parking is now in the historic building, rather
4 than in the basement.
5 Why did your client, after
6 getting the preliminary approval for the four story
7 traditional design with sub-level parking, switch
8 to five stories, modern design, different materials
9 and different parking arrangements?
10 MR. WAXMAN: If I may, David
12 In terms of the in-concept
13 approval, the plan is right here that you see that
14 we went with, and it purely showed a volume. It
15 did not show material and the in-concept approval
16 was not -
17 MS. EDEN: Well, I just read you
18 the notes of the Historical Commission, so I don't
19 know why you want to argue with me. You want to,
20 like, hold Mr. Smith to them verbatim, we'll hold
21 you to them verbatim.
23 MR. WAXMAN: Sure., And I can
24 give a good, valid reason.
1 MS. EDEN: I'm asking why you
2 made the change; why you added the floor; why you
3 changed the parking arrangements; and why you
4 changed the style and the materials of the
6 MR. WAXMAN: Issue number one on
7 the parking, when we were there, Commissioner
8 Rivera asked us why, in this plan here -- as you
9 can see, there's a garage entrance on Rector
10 Street. We studied, looking at a way to move the
11 parking penetration off of the old facade, studied
12 using a car lift or some other means so it's taken
13 off of there.
14 At the same time, Commissioner
15 Wilds, recognizing that that would be a burden on
16 us from a marketing standpoint due to car
17 elevators, as opposed to a ramp, proposed the
18 building could be four or fiveish (sic), and he did
19 use the word fiveish, stories if we needed it to be
20 that way. We studied it and came up with a
21 proposal where there's two means of ingress and
22 egress for the parking.
23 This entrance, as you see here,
24 is a car lift by ThyssenKrupp, a major elevator
1 company. It's a 60 second cycle to drive in and
3 take 15 cars down to the basement. We then have an
existing cut and entrance further down the private
4 street where we park the six additional cars.
5 The car elevator and the
6 marketing associated with it from the fact that
7 it's not proven in the City, we needed it to be
8 revenue neutral to make that change. Commissioner
9 wilds recognized that and gave us the flexibility
10 for the fifth story.
11 MS. EDEN: And then the style and
12 materials changed?
13 MR. WAXMAN: We were challenged
14 there that -- you know, in the preservation
15 community, I'm sure you have heard this before,
16 there's Mickey Mouse architecture where you
17 replicate what was there, and then there is -- the
18 layman needs to look at the old building and easily
19 recognize what is different.
20 We were challenged, at the
21 in-concept approval, to really go for something,
22 and we were told it should be modern and we don't
23 want it to just look like a brick box put on top.
24 And that's what brought us to this sort of more
1 modern design. And the materials we tried to blend
2 the colors in with the brick that surrounds it.
3 MR. FELDMAN: What I would tell
4 you is that the Historical Commission did review
5 exactly what you see in front of you here today and
6 unanimously voted to support this application here
7 today, unanimously. And as you see, Mr. Gallery -
8 MS. EDEN: This is the one that's
9 already been the subject of a Building Standards
10 appeal, which is finished?
11 MR. FELDMAN: No.
12 MS. EDEN: It's pending?
13 MR. FELDMAN: No. We went to the
14 Board of Building Standards. They voted 3-0. They
15 denied Mr. Smith's appeal at the hearing, itself.
16 Mr. Smith has already now filed an appeal to the
17 Court of Common Pleas of that decision.
18 MS. EDEN: So it's done in front
19 of Building Standards -
20 MR. FELDMAN: Yes.
21 MS. EDEN: -- but it's still
22 pending in court?
23 MR. FELDMAN: Yes. So, I mean,
24 that's some of the flavor of what is going on here,
1 the back and forth that's happened. But what you
2 see here was approved unanimously by the Historical
4 MR. AUSPITZ: Mr. Smith, do you
5 want to put something else?
6 MR. SMITH: I have a couple more
8 Just regarding any kind of
9 hardship, in June of 2005, the developer's
10 architect had testified that the building was
11 sound, secure and maintained at the Historical
12 Commission hearing. In February of 2006, Mr.
13 Feldman laments the deteriorating conditions of the
15 So we have to ask: Are they
16 maintaining the building, and is it deteriorating
17 or not?
18 MS. EDEN: Mr. Smith, you have to
19 understand, though, that the criteria by which we
20 make decisions in front of the Zoning Board is very
21 different than the criteria that the Historical
22 Commission uses. So a lot of this history about
23 the marketing of the building or the maintenance of
24 the building is not really germane directly to the
1 issues that we have in front of us today, which are
2 about the use of the building for residential and
3 some issues that relate to the layout of it on the
5 lot. MR. SMITH: As I mentioned
6 before, we identified, and there's photographs of
7 the buildings and addresses and types of
8 businesses, of 61 business that could go into this
9 building without -
10 MR. FELDMAN: Did you ask them if
11 they could go in there?
12 What is that based on?
13 MR. SMITH: It's an obvious
14 demonstration that a building of that size and
15 style can be used within the neighborhood, and the
16 neighborhood has 61 or more uses compatible with
17 that building. It's a simple argument.
18 MR. FELDMAN: Across the street
19 there was a national retail credit tenant, Smith
20 and Hawkin, that pulled out of that location
21 because of lack of visibility on Main Street and
22 went to another location.
23 MR. SMITH: I have a comment
24 related to that and it was a part of our testimony
1 to the Historical Commission. Smith and Hawkin
2 opened up three other stores within ten miles of
3 this store and -
4 MS. EDEN: You have to remember
5 that the building is zoned G-2. I'm not even sure
6 that Smith and Hawkin could have opened up at this
7 location without a zoning variance. These kind of
8 uses are only relevant if they would have been as
9 of right within the present zoning G-2 category.
10 MR. SMITH: Many of the uses in
11 our 61 listed would go in there as of right; not
12 all of them would. It goes from glass blowing,
13 furniture manufacturing_
14 MR. AUSPITZ: We just approved a
15 glass blower yesterday with an apartment above for
16 the artist, himself. But that doesn't mean that we
17 have hundreds of people practicing that particular
18 art looking for a building. I can probably give
19 you a hundred uses. The problem is, for example,
20 there's no parking, for all intents and purposes,
21 if you keep the building without breaking into it.
22 So a lot of businesses would be affected by that.
23 If you told somebody: We want you to open a
24 business in Manayunk, and you can't even park your
1 own car, it's difficult, at best. This isn't a
2 debate. I want you to know the flavor of what
4 we're thinking about. Counsel, is there anybody else?
5 MR. FELDMAN: If I may ask Mr
6 Smith a couple of questions.
8 Mr. Smith, did you provide the
Zoning Board your address?
9 MR. SMITH: Yes. 293 Hermitage
10 Street, Philadelphia, 19127.
11 MR. FELDMAN: I did driving
12 directions from Rector Street to get to your
13 property. What I found is it's 1.1 miles.
14 Do you believe that that's
16 MR. SMITH: I will take your word
17 for it.
18 MS. EDEN: He is the president of
19 the civic, so -
20 MR. FELDMAN: I understand.
21 MR. SMITH: I mean, it's as
22 relevant as asking Mr. Feldman where he lives.
23 MR. FELDMAN: Do you own any
24 property on that block, on the block of Rector
2 MR. SMITH: No.
3 MR. FELDMAN: Thank you.
4 MR. SMITH: I have one last
5 comment. I know Councilman Nutter has supported
6 this project, and I only want to point out that his
7 support has been, from our perspective, unrelated
8 to the scope of the project and unconditional. He
9 supported the demolition. He supported four
10 stories. He supported five stories. At one point
11 they identified the developer as Switzenbaum and
12 Associates. And to the best of our knowledge, he's
13 not the developer.
14 They have represented the
15 building as deteriorating, when it's not. And they
16 have gone so far -
17 MR. STATEN: When you say it's
18 not, how do you come to that conclusion?
19 MR_ SMITH: The testimony of the
20 developer's architect at the June Historical
21 Commission meeting.
22 MR. FELDMAN: It's interesting
23 that there are pictures on the Manayunk
24 Neighborhood Council of the interior of this
1 building that we don't know how they got.
2 MR. SMITH: I can explain it.
3 There's a hole in the door and I stuck a camera in.
4 MR. FELDMAN: They're pretty deep
5 into the building. They took a hundred pictures of
6 the interior of this building that somehow, Mr.
7 Smith must have went -
8 MR. AUSPITZ: We're not going to
9 go there because Mr. Smith should have been invited
10. in to see the building and we wouldn't be here
11 today. I'm coming from the other side. Putting up
12 these barriers is nice cocktail talk, but it
13 doesn't accomplish anything. It's important for
14 people to sit and knock these things down and
15 figure out what to do with them, rather than
16 dismiss anything.
17 The only reason I'm rushing you a
18 little bit because -
19 MR. SMITH: My final comment is
20 Councilman Nutter has gone so far as to say that
21 retail and reuse of this building would be
22 undesirable, and we find that absurd.
23 MR. AUSPITZ: It is what it is
24 right now.
1 MR. FELDMAN: Can Councilman
2 Nutter's -
3 MR. AUSPITZ: We want to hear
4 from the opposition.
5 MR. SCHIRMER: I think Mr.
6 Feldman goes first, normally.
7 MR. STATEN: We asked you.
8 MR. AUSPITZ: This is like Judge
9 Judy. We'll tell you exactly. Don't worry about
10 what you learn. We want to hear why people are so
11 upset so we can deal with that and see what we're
12 talking about.
13 MR. SCHIRMER: We have to bring
14 Kevin back up. These are the copies -- what you
15 have in front of you are the exhibits for Manayunk
16 Neighborhood Council, including copies of the
17 paperwork -- we actually have a file copy for the
18 Zoning Board, which has the pictures in large
19 format. And I believe Kevin has already given much
20 of the testimony that was focused on the binders;
21 however, we do have the specific photographs
22 showing, one, aerials.
23 MR. AUSPITZ: We have the aerial
24 on the screen.
1 MR. SCHIRMER: There was some
2 questions about Richards Apex. The property is
3 currently zoned G-2 industrial. The property is
5 currently owned by Raymond Labov. We have a copy
6 of the Deed from Mr. Labov. Unfortunately, Mr. Labov isn't
7 here -- he is? Now, the property is currently
8 G-2 industrial. zoned
9 MR. STATEN: You said that.
10 MR. SCHIRMER: The property which
11 is adjacent to it, which we discussed, is Richards
12 Apex factory is the large property, not the red
13 brick building, but behind Richards Apex -- behind
14 the property is Richards Apex, which is a currently
15 running industrial manufacturer. This is a
16 Philadelphia Inquirer article.
17 MR. AUSPITZ: As a manufacturer,
18 I just put this on the table in case the Judge
19 reads this, there's functional obsolescence, and we
20 don't even have to go through this. If you're
21 trying to tell me this is a good building for a
22 current manufacturing operation, which I do,
23 there's no loading zone, there's no parking,
24 there's no nothing, other than a great view. And
1 the last thing you want to do is have people
2 looking at the view when you're supposed to be
3 making whatever you're making.
4 Don't go there. And if you're
5 going to claim this can still be used for
6 industrial, it really can't. We're talking about
7 retail or office, that's a possibility, but there's
8 just no way.
9 MR. SCHIRMER: I believe the
10 Historical Commission minutes do reflect there was
11 an offer, and Mr. Smith has had conversations -
12 MR. STATEN: Who said that?
13 MS. EDEN: Mr. Schirmer, the
14 problem is that's not really relevant to a zoning
15 hardship case.
16 MR. SCHIRMER: The property owner
17 next door is looking to expand. The property next
18 door is industrial and is currently used for
20 MR. AUSPITZ: Is the gentleman
21 from next door here?
22 MR. FELDMAN: No.
23 MR. AUSPITZ: You sat and talked
24 to him personally, yourself, counsel?
1 MR. SCHIRMER: I did not.
2 MR. AUSPITZ: Do me a favor. I'm
3 telling from you a deli, we're talking hearsay. So
4 I don't know what they do in Schwenksville, or
5 Sellersville, or whatever we're talking about, but
6 cut it out already.
7 We're asking, and for the last
8 time, because you've got people here that are
9 credible witnesses that we have known for years, we
10 want to know what they think is a problem, and then
11 we have to see if that's curable or not. And then
12 we may be able to come up with something that we
13 say: You know what, there is a problem. That's
14 why we wait to hear from the residents up there.
15 MR. SCHIRMER: Then we have -
16 MR. STATEN: I have a Mr. Smith,
18 Were you the only one that went
19 to the historical meeting out of the association?
20 MR. SMITH: I'm the only one who
21 testified at the meeting. I believe Jane Glenn was
22 at the meeting.
23 MR. STATEN: Did you get any
24 renderings or pictures of the rendering that go
1 back to the group to show them what you said that
2 you approved in concept? That's the statement you
4 MR. FELDMAN: Our plans are on
5 their web site.
6 MR. SMITH: We never had any
7 pictures, or we never had any pictures of
8 renderings until the final Historical Commission
9 meeting wherein we got that.
10 MR. STATEN: Did you have a
11 meeting after you saw the pictures among the
12 association to talk about the rendering?
13 MR. SMITH: Yes. Yes. We have
14 had meetings.
15 MR. FELDMAN: I think the
16 Historical Commission approval was June or July o
17 this year. It's been a number of months.
18 MR. AUSPITZ: Counsel, anybody
20 MR. SCHIRMER: I just wanted to
21 flip through, and have Kevin identify -- we
22 believe Kevin has already identified the pictures,
23 61 businesses. We don't need to flip through the
1 MR. AUSPITZ: One more time with
2 61 businesses. You're wasting our time, quite
3 frankly. I know you're enjoying this, but now
4 you're starting, really, to get to a point where
5 you shouldn't be. This is wrong. We want to hear
6 from credible people that we know from that
7 community in front of us to tell us what they're
8 thinking so we know what is going on.
9 MR. SCHIRMER: We call John
11 MR. HUNTER: John Hunter,
12 H-U-N-T-E-R, 4308 Terrace Street, Philadelphia, PA,
13 19128. Without trying your patience too much, I
14 just want to address some of the points that have
15 already been raised.
16 MR. AUSPITZ: Can I ask you not
17 to be redundant? In other words, if you're going
18 to say 61 businesses -
19 MR. HUNTER: I promise I won't
20 mention 61.
21 MR. AUSPITZ: Thank you. I have
22 to stress that time is of the essence, only because
23 we have a lot of people here and we're trying, for
24 the eighth time, to get to the kernel of the truth
1 of what is happening so we can figure out what to
3 Go ahead.
4 MR. HUNTER: I am on the Manayunk
5 neighborhood support. I'm a registered architect.
6 I work in the building adjacent to the Labov
7 property. I have worked there for 17 years. I
8 have lived in the area for 50 years, so I think I
9 have a relatively good knowledge of the area_
10 Some of the things I just want to
11 point out is, first of all, one of Mr. Feldman's
12 points where he characterized the site as not very
13 close to Main Street, it's within less than 100
14 feet of Main Street. It's highly visible. This is
15 taken as if you were standing on Main Street. So I
16 think we'd like to rectify that.
17 The next thing is -- if I could
18 just address the 18 month period as an architect,
19 advising a client on a property in the historic
20 district, and it's on the National Historic
21 Register of buildings, to pursue demolition and
22 then to pursue appeal of the denial for that
23 demolition will automatically extend the design
24 period. To then change architects will also do
1 that. That was not at the suggestion of the
2 neighborhood council. So that -
3 MR. FELDMAN: Change architects
4 or the overbuild concept?
5 MR. HUNTER: I'm sorry. I never
6 mentioned the overbuild concept.
7 MR. FELDMAN: No. You said that
8 it wasn't the idea of the Manayunk Neighborhood
9 Council for overbuild.
10 KS. EDEN: Mr. Feldman, why do
11 you want to pursue this?
12 Once the clients failed to
13 achieve the granting of a demolition permit,
14 they're either going to walk away from the project
15 or they're going to for an overbuild concept. This
16 is not rocket science. I mean, that's just the way
17 of the world. It isn't for the neighborhood. It's
18 for developer. That's the only choice they have at
19 that point.
20 MR. FELDMAN: They also had a
21 choice to move on to other projects, but it really
22 intrigued them, the idea. And the reason why they
23 went with another architectural firm is because
24 they -- someone else said: We can actually do some
1 different things here to make this possible.
3 MR. STATEN: Anything else?
MR. HUNTER: One more point about
4 the 18 month.
5 Could I also point out, as was
6 mentioned before, there have been three versions of
7 the scheme that was being shown. One was three
8 stories above the existing two stories. The next
9 one was three stories above the existing building.
10 MR. AUSPITZ: We're looking at .
11 your organization's web site. We're seeing what
12 they saw, and you have this. What you're seeing
13 here you have on the web site, too.
14 MR. HUNTER: Right. Also, the
15 last scheme, the later scheme, therefore, goes up
16 yet another story.
17 MR. FELDMAN: With all the
18 interior pictures.
19 MR. AUSPITZ: That doesn't make
20 it bad.
21 MR. STATEN: We're listening.
22 MR. HUNTER: The final scheme
23 also increases the footprint of the building. It
24 extends out to the north to the greatest extent of
1 the side of the sidewalk. So the final scheme
2 which you're looking at is almost 30 feet higher
3 than the adjacent building, which is the highest
4 building in the area. So it goes up from three
5 stories to four stories to five stories. The
6 footprint increases. At each time the design
7 changed. As Ms. Eden has already pointed out, the
8 design changed from no reason from the neighborhood
9 council. So I just wanted to address those.
10 Could I also address the
11 parking? One of these -- just to show you some
12 more photographs, which are all included in the
13 books, across from Venus Island there is existing
14 parking. Across from this building is Bourbon Blue
15 Restaurant. When Bourbon Blue came before you to
16 have the zoning changed to a restaurant, it was
17 approved that the parking on Venus Island would be
18 an acceptable option for customers. So there is
19 parking very close by to this site. It's not on
20 the site. It's immediately adjacent.
21 MR. AUSPITZ: Is that that big
22 parcel that was behind what was Harry's?
23 MS. BRUMBELOW: This is Venus
24 Island over here. So they would have to cross the
1 bridge here or the bridge here
2 MR. AUSPITZ: The project over
3 there with the two bridges?
4 The island hasn't been built on
6 MR. FELDMAN: No. To get to that
7 parking -- we actually are interested in possibly
8 utilizing that parking, too, just in case, you've
9 got to come down to Cotton Street and you've got to
10 go over a bridge here. That's to walk. And I
11 think to drive, you've got to come over here.
12 MR. HUNTER: Could you now look
13 at the last pieces in your information that's been
14 given to you, which shows the proposals for the
15 Water Department for a retention storage tank on
16 that site and the improved parking and potential of
17 the bridge across the canal at Rector Street?
18 MR. FELDMAN: We have Bob
19 Swarbrick here from Manayunk Development
21 MR. STATEN: We're on this side
22 right now.
23 MR. HUNTER: So there are plans,
24 and in addition to those plans, there is also your
1 recreation center is proposing to put a performing
2 center on that Venus Island, which would be
3 accessed from the bridge. As has already been
4 brought up before, there are long-term plans to
5 increase the value of the canal and the tow path.
6 One of the objections that was
7 immediate when the developers first addressed the
8 neighborhood council was not only demolition, but
9 how much the building on the tow path would be
10 affected, because what inevitably was going to be
11 proposed to the existing building is-parking, dead
12 parking, no activity, nothing that would improve
13 the potential for using that canal in the future.
14 I just wanted to produce those.
15 Could I just address Mr.
16 Gallery's points? As I just mentioned, three of
17 the buildings adjacent to each other are on the
18 National Historic Register, the building that I
19 work in, Labov's building and Bourbon Blue. If you
20 look at this photograph, which is taken from Main
21 Street, you can see the two buildings. They were
22 original buildings, late 19th century. They're
23 almost a mirror image of each other. They were
24 both gate buildings to the bridge that went across
1 the mill.
2 If you now look at these two
3 buildings, this building is Labov's. This building
4 is Bourbon Blue. This building is owned by Youron
5 Properties, who is not known as a stupid developer
6 who doesn't do good development. This is a
7 restaurant. It's active. It's used. It's not
8 been changed. It's been pretty well preserved, and
9 it's been restored. It was restored pretty much in
10 the. same period that this building was put for
12 MR. FELDMAN: The parking was
14 MR. HUNTER: Before, not for many
15 years. Before that, it was a rug store. The
16 photograph that Mr. Feldman was talking about is
17 this one. The photograph on the right is the one
18 he's referring to was taken through the window, and
19 you can see the roof structure of the building.
20 The building is very robust. It's got thick walls,
21 huge beams, probably huge supports. Before it was
22 supporting plumbing supplies, cast iron furnaces,
24 The building on the left is
1 Bourbon Blue. And you can see that potentially
2 it's a very attractive space. It could be
3 restored. It could be retained. Because it's
4 strong, it could be for a multiple of uses that
5 would add life to the canal. Housing, particularly
6 condominiums, don't add life at ground level.
7 There's parking at ground level. They're
8 isolated. They have balconies, but because they're
9 near the Schuylkill River, they won't provide any
10 animation to the canal. So I can really imagine_
11 different reuse of this building would.
12 And the reason that we're not
13 citing the restaurant, there could be a number of
14 different uses. It's right next to Main Street.
15 In the future there will be this development across
16 from Venus Island. In the future, the canal will
17 be dredged and there will be an improvement, and
18 therefore, this building has got great potential as
19 it stands. I think that's enough.
20 MR. AUSPITZ: Thank you.
21 MR. SCHIRMER: Our next brief
22 witness is John Cluver, the historical architect.
23 MR. CLUVER: John Cluver, Voith
24 and Mactavish Architects, 1616 walnut Street. Just
1 a couple issues. One, this building is on the
2 national register, as such is eligible for federal
3 rehabilitation tax credits, but would not be
4 eligible, as such, with this kind of development,
5 in my opinion. If anything like that had been
6 pursued as part of this consideration for the
7 project, other uses, such as the restaurant, might
8 be more amenable to that kind of use and more
9 consistent with the historic character of the
11 Second, the development is five
12 stories above this building. It's quite a large
13 growth on top of a relatively small warehouse, plus
14 it requires parking to be at its lowest level.
15 This creates a couple of issues. One is the
16 looming mass above the existing building, which
17 really does detract from the historic character.
18 It also requires ventilation
19 louvers to go to the windows along the canal tow
20 path. So we're talking about how this will improve
21 the tow path, but in reality, the area you will
22 have along there is enclosed parking with louvers.
23 And I don't know if any sound issues have been
24 considered or noise issues or exhaust issues.
1 Likewise, with this mechanical
2 lift system, if there had been any traffic studies
3 or other things considered about the total load and
4 reload time to allow cars to park in this space and
5 to get in and out of that alley so they don't block
6 the adjacent properties.
7 MR. AUSPITZ: Thank you.
8 MR. SCHIRMER: And Jane Glenn,
9 Manayunk Neighborhood Council.
10 MS. GLENN: Jane Glenn, 293
11 Hermitage Street, Philadelphia. I just want to say
12 I was on the Advisory Committee for the tow path
13 improvements, for the Venus Island Rec Center
14 improvements, and now also for East Falls Manayunk
15 riverfront access improvement.
16 And that Rector Street, with the
17 pedestrian bridge going to the new rec center will
18 be a gateway to the river, to the tow path, to the
19 rec center, and this will pretty much block that
20 view, which we're trying to open it, bring people
21 down to the river and have it be a vibrant
22 extension of Main Street, and this really sets as a
23 blockade to that area.
24 MR. AUSPITZ: Thank you.
1 Talk to me for one second about
2 the vents.
3 Somebody going on the tow path,
4 what will they see?
5 MR. FELDMAN: Jonathan Broh,
6 project architect.
7 MR. BROH: Jonthan Broh, JK
8 Roller Architects, 1128 Walnut Street, Suite 200.
9 Along the ground floor, along the
10 canal path, the windows would be maintained-instead
11 of glass. There would be a mesh or some-type of
12 screen, as stated before, for ventilation. There
13 will be a pedestrian door roughly in the center of
14 the facade, which will allow bicycle access for
15 people who live within the units.
16 The floor above it, as part of
17 the historical building, these are actually
18 apartment units, themselves, so there would be
19 light and activity in this upper floor here, and
20 there would be balconies accessing one balcony per
22 MS. EDEN: So the level that's
23 level with the path is passively-ventilated
1 MR. BROH: Correct.
2 MR. FELDMAN: With the landscape
3 screening that we have shown here.
4 MS. EDEN: Which is shown where?
5 MR. FELDMAN: Which is shown
6 here, right along. It's on the rendering.
7 MS. EDEN: That's not a
8 rendering. I mean, that's not anything with any
9 kind of specifications.
10 MR. FELDMAN: We can provide
12 MS. EDEN: We don't know how wide
13 it is, how tall it is.
14 MR. FELDMAN: We can provide the
15 Board that.
16 MR. AUSPITZ: Also, the windows
17 that are original on the warehouse, are you going
18 to change them and put balconies in?
19 What are you doing?
20 Are you putting sliding doors, or
21 what. is going to be there?
22 MR. BROH: Existing there are
23 double doors. We maintain the door type, as is
24 currently used, and we just probably put slight
1 small Juliet balcony. Right now they're showing
2 projected, but we could bring them in, if that was
4 MR. FELDMAN: But there are the
5 double that's there already.
6 MR. AUSPITZ: They're wooden?
7 MR. BROH: I believe so.
8 MR. AUSPITZ: Well, don't
10 You follow me?
11 MR. BROH: Yes.
12 MR. AUSPITZ: A lot of this
13 hinges on that feel on that tow path, and it's
15 MR. FELDMAN: Mr. Chairman, if
16 you go through the minutes, there's a lot of time
17 spent on this issue. We were trying to play with
18 -- we need to provide some parking here, but at
19 the same time, we're trying to make this as
20 attractive as possible. That's why we have kept
21 this entire building here. We have the
22 landscaping. We have the connection there.
23 These are going to be the
24 residents that are going to support this retail up
1 and down Main Street and really make sure this
2 building survives.
3 MR. AUSPITZ: Let me tell you
4 something. Survive in front of us is your first
5 goal. And I'm getting a vibe. This is why I
6 always say, counsel, that the people here, I know
7 the people and we like to hear something. We're
8 messing a little bit too far with the tow path, are
9 you going to hurt the feel, and we have to see that
10 get straightened out a little bit. I'm not saying
11 not have a building surround it, but you're going
12 too far.
13 It has to -- you don't want to
14 kill the warehouse feel of the tow path. That's
15 what it was. So I think that's something that has
16 to be visited. You're not going to do mesh windows
17 because the warehouse never had mesh windows. You
18 have to figure out some kind of ventilation
20 MR. BROH: We can do an active
21 ventilation system.
22 MR. AUSPITZ: But it would have
23 to go up to the roof or something else.
24 MR. BROH: I understand, of
2 MS. EDEN: I have another
3 question about the rendering.
4 In comparing it to the
5 architectural drawing, A-31, and I see some sort of
6 handicap ramp, or emergency exit system, or
7 something that I don't see is shown here on the
8 canal path elevation, but I don't see it in that
10 MR. BROH: It's obscured by the
11 plantings in the rendering.
12 MR. AUSPITZ: Can you tilt that
13 forward just a little bit?
14 MS. EDEN: It's a third of the
16 MR. AUSPITZ: Why doesn't he send
17 us some real renderings of what that tow path is
18 going to look like? You're going to have an
19 elevator anyway. Do that through your lobby or
20 something else on the other side.
21 MR. FELDMAN: That was for the
22 pedestrian and bicycle access in and out of the
23 building. That was part of the interaction.
24 MR. AUSPITZ: Just picture the
1 little log cabin out in Valley Forge. You're not
2 going to put jalist (phonetic) windows on it. This
3 is what I'm afraid you're doing. We're willing to
4 talk to preserve the building to do something above
5 the building. We're not saying that's a bad idea
6 at all.
7 Also, I want to talk to keep it
8 more modern, only to have it recede into the sky
9 more than putting solid brick on the front over
10 there, unless -- but definitely, you cannot touch
11 that bottom warehouse at all in any way, shape or
12 form. You can put the parking on the other side,
13 but nothing on the tow path.
14 MR. FELDMAN: I have got one of
15 the best architectural firms in the City. You're
16 hearing -
17 MR. BROH: All the comments with
18 regards to the tow path and the building, I think
19 we can accommodate. The only one issue, probably
20 one, is some kind of pedestrian access directly to
21 the tow path. But if that could not be
23 MR. AUSPITZ: Well, there must
24 have been a door somewhere on that side, right?
1 MR. BROH: There is. I mean,
2 we'd still have to have some kind of stairs. We
3 could get rid of the ramp but there would be some
4 stair requirement.
5 MR. AUSPITZ: Where was the
6 original door?
7 MR. BROH: This door right here
8 where we're showing the landing, where the stair
9 lands, is the existing door that we would try to
10 maintain for the pedestrian access. To the extent
11 we can access the tow path without a large ramp or
12 stairs or whatever, that's what we'd like to
13 accommodate. And we can work with whomever to
14 discuss the materials of the ramp.
15 MR. AUSPITZ: We also want to see
16 the window treatments of what you're going to do
18 MR. BROH: Understood.
19 MS. EDEN: What are you showing
20 on the rendering below the balcony?
21 MR. BROH: That's just a shadow
22 or something.
23 MR. FELDMAN: There's no change;
1 MR. BROH: Right. This drawing
2 here, 83.2, is the architectural intent. So
3 there's slight differences from the rendering to
4 the elevation.
5 MS. EDEN: How far do those
6 balconies project out?
7 MR. BROH: Currently, they
8 project three feet. But again, we can remove them
10 MR. AUSPITZ: You're talking
11 about the ones on the -
12 MS. EDEN: On the original. The
13 balconies on the proposed new construction do not
14 project out from over that cornice, do they?
15 MR. BROH: Slightly. They do
16 project out slightly.
17 MS. EDEN: How far?
18 MR. BROH: About 18 inches.
19 MS. EDEN: Why?
20 MR. AUSPITZ: Let me tell you
21 something, that's not slightly. Pull it back.
22 We need a little sensitivity
23 training. And the rest of the guys over there that
24 are all over there roaming around, you're close
1 here. Nobody's throwing you out of the room, and
2 we're going to build here. There's no question
3 we're going to build something here. But this has
4 to be really refined.
5 If you want to get input from
6 them, that's fine. And yes, we recognize the firm
7 obviously. So do it on your own. But this is
8 lacking sensitivity and that's what's causing the
9 situation. And we don't do overhangs. If you want
10 to go to 11th, and Washington and look what Grasso
11 did there to us, that will never happen again.
12 MS. EDEN: That's my question.
13 Is there any other part of this
14 overbuild that projects?
15 MR. BROH: There is not and there
16 won't be.
17 MR. AUSPITZ: It has to pull
18 back. It really has to. So send us the renderings
19 and let us look at that. I suggest, and we can do
20 this quickly, because we're ready. We're not going
21 to waste time with this. Just look at it that you
22 cannot touch the original building at all on the
23 river side. You can't come over in any way, shape
24 or form. The idea is to make that whole top piece
1 disappear, not stand out.
2 MR. STATEN: On the double doors,
3 is there right now any gate or something?
4 MR. BROH: Right now there's
6 not. I didn't look at it close enough to tell
historically whether or not there was. We can
7 research that and find out.
8 MR. STATEN: I want gates right
9 in front.
10. MR. AUSPITZ: Send us that and
11 when we'll go from there.
12 Planning Commission?
13 MS. BRUMBELOW: Mr. Chairman and
14 members of the Board -
15 MR. AUSPITZ: Hold it just one
17 Does anybody else want to say
19 MS. GRIFFIN: My name is Joy L.
20 Griffin. My address is 105 Roxborough Avenue,
21 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19127, and I am a
22 neighbor within 500 feet of 3 Rector Street.
23 The reason for the
24 dissatisfaction, and this -- I'm considered the low
1 man on the totem pole, because everything is
2 towards development, but there's no real focus on
3 what is happening in the neighborhood to the
4 residents of the neighborhood.
5 I live a very short walk away
6 from 3 Rector Street. To have more apartments put
7 on Rector Street in the configuration that it is is
8 going to be a hardship on the neighborhood.
9 MR. AUSPITZ: Can I tell you
11 MS. GRIFFIN: Yes.
12 MR. AUSPITZ: I'm incredibly
13 older than you are. We had the same conversation
14 about you guys coming in, and the generation before
15 you in Manayunk. The yunkers (sic) -- do you
16 follow me? Without development -- do you follow
18 So you're there, enjoy it, but
19 you have to always have development.
20 MS. GRIFFIN: That's the problem,
21 sir, because we are not able to enjoy it because
22 our concerns are not taken into consideration.
23 They were developed right over top of. The same
24 difference with this situation. They're talking
1 about exhaust. They're talking about fans. These
2 things run day and night.
3 How are you going to sleep?
4 We're in old houses. We don't have central air.
5 They have central air. So our windows are open.
6 We have to listen to this. I mean, there is -- I
7 mean, there should be just a tad more sensitivity
8 to the residents is all I'm trying to say.
9 MR. AUSPITZ: Okay. Thank you.
10 MS. GRIFFIN: The other point is
11 it wasn't -- I didn't have a clear understanding
12 that the Labov building was open and available for
13 what it is. I, myself, have started a nonprofit
14 organization. And I, myself, put in a proposal for
15 the Labov building. It is something that would be
16 for the community, a type of a community center.
17 And it would be able to keep the building intact.
18 Now, I know that this discussion has gone on a long
19 way. And it seems like we're with the horse and
20 the buggy, but that's the problem. We're not kept
21 in the loop. Everything is done -
22 MR. AUSPITZ: Did you put an
23 offer to buy this building?
24 MS. GRIFFIN: Yes, I did.
1 MR. FELDMAN: When was that?
2 MS. GRIFFIN: You got the
4 MR. FELDMAN: No, I didn't. -- he has
5 MS. GRIFFIN: Mr. Labov
6 the proposal. I put in a proposal, not a dime less
7 of his asking price. So I'm just -- I'm stunned
8 because the neighborhood people never get a chance
9 to do anything and to preserve some of our
11 Everything is being developed,
12 overdeveloped, and it's just squeezing Manayunk
13 out. That's what you come to Manayunk for. That's
14 why they want to build there. It's a safe, cozy,
15 little neighborhood. But we're progressing at a
16 point where we're squeezing that part of Manayunk
18 Now, it's also been stated that
19 there's going to be significant development on
20 Venus Island. There will be a bridge across from
21 Rector Street.
22 How come we cannot use that
23 building as a part of the historical part of
24 Manayunk, which is what people are coming there
1 for? It does haven't to be.
2 MR. AUSPITZ: I have to be very
3 careful. You offered them the full asking
5 price for this property?
6 MS. GRIFFIN: Yes, I did. Yes,
8 MR. AUSPITZ: You might want to
9 address that on the record.
10 MR. FELDMAN: Mr. Chairman, we
11 have the attorney for the property owner here.
12 MR. CANUSO: Vito Canuso, 200
13 South Broad Street, attorney for the Labov family
14 for in excess of 25 years.
15 The proposal she's referring to
16 consisted of -- the source of funding would be a
17 list of various foundations and contributions from
18 various sources, which was not a realistic source
19 of money that we could address in a relative period
20 of time. We saw no applications to any of the
21 foundations for which they sought funding.
22 We saw no realistic time span as
23 to how long that would take to get that type of
24 funding --
1 MS. GRIFFIN: That's not true.
2 It's in my proposal letter. I said that the
3 funding -- the proposal for the securing of the
4 funding would be within 12 months, one year.
5 MR. STATEN: Did you ask somebody
6 to hold the building for a year before they could
8 MS. GRIFFIN: No. What I stated
9 is if it was acceptable, I would initiate the
10 process of beginning to secure the funding, and the
11 funding plan was to secure all of the funding
12 within one year.
13 MR. AUSPITZ: Thank you.
14 MS. GRIFFIN: Thank you.
15 MR. AUSPITZ: Do you have anybody
16 else you want to put on quickly, because it's now
17 quarter to four?
18 MR. FELDMAN: Bob Swarbrick from
19 Manayunk Development Corporation, who is here to
20 talk about how this is consistent with what
21 Manayunk Development Corporation envisioned for the
22 tow path for Manayunk.
23 Bob, do you want to just
24 briefly --
1 MR. SWARBRICK: Good afternoon,
2 Chairman. Manayunk Development Corporation, as you
3 were told, voted unanimously, through their Board
4 of Directors Executive Committee. It's something
5 we want to see happen in Manayunk. We'd like to
6 see it happen more. We'd like to have a
7 residential base in addition to the residential
8 base we have now.
9 I have one more comment, and that
10 is the issue of the bridge. I'd like to address
11 one more issue; that is the issue of the bridge.
12 There is no bridge planned for Rector Street.
13 There was a proposal made by Manayunk Development
14 Corporation to the City of Philadelphia through the
15 water company to put a bridge there to make this
16 building a valuable resource to the community and
17 we were denied. CRS, the railroad, will not permit
18 a bridge there in the near future or the long-term
19 future, so that will not happen, not in my
21 If there's any questions you have
22 of our organization; we thank you very much for
23 your time.
24 MR. AUSPITZ: Thank you, sir.
1 MS. CHAPMAN: Just very briefly,
2 I will enter an appearance on the record in support
3 of this application and the zoning variance. My
4 name is Julia Chapman. I'm the Chief of Staff for
5 the Fourth Council District. The property is
6 within the boundaries of the Fourth Council
8 This has been a very complicated
9 project to try to balance a bunch of competing
10 interests between the residential community, the
11 needs and desires of the Historic Commission, and
12 to try to reuse a long-term vacant building that,
13 from my knowledge, has been vacant since about late
15 It's zoned industrial. As the
16 Board knows, industry is not going to come back to
17 that part of Manayunk. We are seeing a lot of
18 residential conversion. And what I wanted to
19 clarify is the reason that our office and the
20 Councilman, at the time, had supported residential
21 over other uses is it's known residential creates
22 the least amount of trip generation. This is right
23 off of Main Street. It is a challenge to get down
24 Rector Street. It dead ends right there at the
1 canal and tow path. -So I think that this kind of
2 use is going to have the least amount of impact on
3 Main Street, other than a restaurant or a
4 retail-type establishment.
5 I also would note I drive down
6 Main Street almost every night on my way home. The
7 retail is not thriving right now. It is
8 challenged, and we're seeing a lot of retail
9 closing, and we're seeing restaurants with liquor
10 licenses come in. And that's been a renewed battle
11 that we have been-having with the neighborhood
12 council and voting those kind of changes and
14 So I think this is the best reuse
15 for this building at this location.
16 MR. FELDMAN: Mr. Chairman, if I
17 may, in conclusion, we believe we satisfy the
18 requirements of 14-1802. We have shown that
19 there's a hardship. We've shown that this has
20 minimal impact on the community. In fact, it's a
21 benefit that we're saving this building, keeping
22 the historic legacy of this building alive, and
23 it's the minimum variance that continues to keep
24 this building there, telling the story of
2 And with that, I would ask that
3 all the exhibits that we passed up, 1 through 17,
4 and the letter of the Fourth District be
5 incorporated into the record.
6 MR. AUSPITZ: We're expecting
7 from you to see -- sir?
8 MR. SCHIRMER: In closing, we
9 feel the building doesn't have a real hardship. It
10 could be reused as is. It could be made back to
11 what it was, and just to remember to submit the
12 full binder with the pictures in for the record.
13 MR. AUSPITZ: Planning
15 MS. BRUMBELOW: Mr. Chairman and
16 members of the Board, this property is indicated
17 for industrial use on the comprehensive plan. The
18 applicant has worked diligently with the Planning
19 Commission in order to develop the plan.
20 Accordingly, we support the granting of the
22 MR. AUSPITZ: Thank you.
23 MR. FELDMAN: Thank you.
24 MR. SCHIRMER: Thank you.
9 (Whereupon, the hearing was
1 C E R T I F I C A T E
3 STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
4 COUNTY OF BUCKS
6 I, SUSAN L. SINGLAR, a Court
7 Reporter and Notary Public in and for the State of
8 Pennsylvania, do hereby certify that the foregoing
9 transcript of the Zoning Board of Adjustment
10 hearing for 3 Rector Street, Philadelphia,
11 Pennsylvania, taken on Wednesday, October 4, 2006
12 is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge,
13 skill and ability.
17 SUSAN L. SINGLAR
19 (The foregoing certification of
20 this transcript does not apply to any reproduction
21 of the same by any means, unless under the direct
22 control and/or supervision of the certifying