Residents are concerned that a planned development on 54 W. Duval St. could change the character of their neighborhood.
Architect William Newbold and builder Bob Warth came to a West Mt. Airy Neighbors zoning committee meeting Wednesday to talk about their plan. It wasn't a particularly formal presentation, since they haven't yet filed an application for a variance with the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment. (The committee's job is to eventually make a recommendation on projects that go before the Board of Adjustment.)
The meeting, therefore, was more informational than anything. But a variety of neighbors from the Pomona-Cherokee Civic Council who came said they were worried about the project on the now-vacant lot.
The planned development would include three units in two buildings, since one of the buildings would be a twin. They would probably sell for $200,000 to $250,000 each.
Zoning requirements stipulate that off-street parking would be required in the area, so the developers would need to get a variance to allow that.
Holman, who was one of four people from the civic council who attended the meeting, said she wasn't happy with the prices the developers would be asking for.
"I don't see a young person investing that kind of money on that particular block," she said.
That, she said, could mean there might be more renters on the block, which is not something they want. Even if there's off-street parking, it's possible that not all the renters would be able to fit their cars in the driveways, which would mean the development could bring more vehicles to an already crowded block.
She also said the homes, which would be three stories each, wouldn't really fit in on that side of the street. The houses on the north side of Duval are three stories, Holman said, but the ones on the south side aren't.
"I just don't see it," she said.
Committee member Brian Hester, who lives on the street, also said other houses on the block have porches, while there are no plans to put porches on these.
"That doesn't look like the houses in the rest of Mt. Airy," committee chair Ralph Pinkus said.
In the end, Pinkus told Newbold and Warth to consider building porches on the homes and putting parking spots on the side of the buildings, instead of in front. Placing parking on the side, according to committee member Morrie Zimmerman, "is more attractive."
There will be a more formal zoning hearing in front of the WMAN committee once the matter is officially presented to the city Board of Adjustment.