Manayunk Neighborhood Council approves plan for mixed-use development on Cotton Street

Despite a developer being absent, the Manayunk Neighborhood Council approved a project Wednesday night that would bring a mixed-use development to Cotton Street.

As described by MNC leaders, the planned building on the 100 block of Cotton St. would transform an empty lot to a four-story building with commercial space on the first floor and six residential units on the upper floors.

To minimize the visual impact of the building, which will have two residential units per floor, the fourth floor would be setback from the façade.

It’s very similar to a plan previously approved by the MNC at the site: according to documents provided by the group, in 2008, MNC approved a similar, four-story design scheme for the site, albeit one that would be solely for commercial use. A variance was granted by the ZBA at that time, but with no takers on the commercial leases, the project stalled.

“Part of the original design was the setbacks,” said Kevin Smith, president of the MNC. “From most viewing angles, it looks like a three story design, but they get the advantage of a fourth floor.”

This time, developers for the site – a Plymouth Meeting-based company entitled South Third LLC – will need a zoning variance to convert the upper three floors from commercial to residential.

Despite earlier notifications, they were not at Wednesday’s meeting to present their plan, but this did not prevent MNC from considering the merits of the project.

Terms, conditions and next steps 

Attached to MNC’s approval will be a proviso that will provide one parking spot per residential unit.Smith outlined the specifics of the attachment, indicating that all parking must be included in the rent, with a prohibition on rent reductions for not utilizing the included parking space.

MNC leaders expressed interest in ensuring that the agreement will remain with the building should ownership of the building change hands.

Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation, indicated the MDC’s board voted to approve the project separately, based upon a set of conditions. She was reluctant to elaborate on these exact measures, but said that she would speak to MNC leadership to ensure that MNC’s approval of the project would not sidestep any existing agreements.

“I don’t want to find ourselves outside of a situation that we weren’t planning on being outside of,” she said.

Ron Patterson, attorney for the site’s developers, was not immediately available for comment.

Outside of Lipton’s concerns, MNC leaders indicated that the builder has responded favorably to MNC’s prior requests.

To go forward, the MNC said that developers will need to secure approval from the Philadelphia Historical Commission and secure ZBA approval for converting the upper three floors from commercial to residential.

A meeting between the MNC and South Third is set up for Feb. 12.

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