A car dealership at Delaware and Fairmount?

Councilman Mark Squilla must have set some sort of record when he introduced fifteen (15) bills during City Council’s penultimate meeting of the year Thursday morning. Most of them were single-block parking regulations, but still, in one thrilling swoop he exceeded Councilman Green’s entire fall output—by fourteen bills.

One of those bills would authorize the transfer of a parcel of land at 626 Delaware Avenue, at the southwest corner of Delaware Ave. and Fairmount Ave., to the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development, for further conveyance.

Further conveyance to whom?

“It’s a planned project, nothing definite at this point,” said Councilman Squilla, “of an auto dealership—Desimone auto dealership.”

Desimone currently operates a dealership at 6101 Frankford Ave. The property, owned by the city, is currently valued at around $490,000. Representatives of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, which manages PAID, could not immediately provide more details on the proposed project or how much the property would sell for on Thursday.

Squilla said that the developers have yet to meet with Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association.

Matt Ruben, who is president of NLNA as well as chair of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group, says he hopes to have a meeting with the developers “immediately.” CDAG, he said, had fought very hard to have car dealerships of all kinds prohibited in the Central Delaware zoning overlay; ultimately, the group compromised with the Planning Commission to allow for smaller car showrooms.

“I think it’s not a good fit for the waterfront,” Ruben said, “because even if a showroom avoids a lot of the aesthetic and traffic problems [of a traditional dealership], most of the Central Delaware is not the kind of dense downtown area where that kind of a showroom would make sense.”

He added, “You don’t want car dealers seeing that they can put some kind of showroom in and then trying to squeeze in [automobile] storage one way or another …”

Two other bills introduced by Squilla on Thursday would strike a portion of Cypress Street at Broad, as well as amend some zoning regulations in that area, in preparation for developer Carl Dranoff’s proposed 40-story Avenue Place tower.

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