108 apartments coming to vacant Poplar St. lot and neighbors aren’t happy

A Google Streetview image of 2601 Poplar St. (Google/WHYY)

A Google Streetview image of 2601 Poplar St. (Google/WHYY)

The owner of a popular Fairmount cafe and artisanal market has gotten permits to build a 55-foot-tall apartment complex on a vacant Poplar Street lot.

The 2601 Poplar Street project will include 108 residences with a deck on the top floor and a green roof. Commercial space will occupy the ground level and 51 off-street parking spaces will be provided, according to plans submitted to the city by developer Daniel A. Greenberg, president of North Broad Living.

Greenberg’s latest project will rise just a mile west of Tela’s Market & Kitchen, the cafe-market he opened in 2013 as an anchor tenant for another mid-rise residential project – 1833 Fairmount.

In addition to the two Fairmount-area projects, North Broad Living has developed at least eight student housing developments around Temple University.

Bruce Butler, president of the Fairmount Civic Association, said Greenberg had informed the community about his plans for 2601 Poplar. He described the project as  “controversial.”

“There were some disagreement about it, mostly the size of the place. And the inadequacy of the parking arrangements,” Butler said. “People were also concerned about what kind of commercial he was going to put in there.”

Butler described a packed March civic association meeting about the project. Earlier plans for the site from another developer had been more modest, he noted.

The property is zoned CMX-2 with a height limit of 38 feet but required several variances for height and unit density. Earlier plans for the site from another developer had been more modest, Butler said, describing a packed March civic association meeting about the project.

The civic association ultimately elected not to oppose the project. Carl Hoffman, a neighbor who lives near the site, said that he and a group of concerned residents had circulated a petition opposing the project that garnered several hundred signatures opposing the proposal. The neighbors oppose the height, density and addition of 12,000 square feet of retail to a mostly residential area.

“The developer said ‘I can build something by right that’s far worse than what I’m showing,'” Hoffman said. “He couldn’t have gotten the same height but could have built more units. He said you should take what I’m offering because I could make it worse, in essence.”

Hoffman said neighbors even secured a letter of opposition from City Council President Darrell Clarke, but the Zoning Board of Adjustment quickly approved the variances at a meeting last month.

Greenberg did not respond to a request for comment.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly cited a height limit for the CMX-2.5 zoning classification, instead of CMX-2.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.