Applause broke out at the Central Roxborough Civic Association meeting on Thursday evening when Roger Ross — a lifelong Roxborough resident and new owner of 365 Green Lane — took to the floor.
The property, a historic Victorian home dating back to 1870, has been under neighborhood scrutiny since developer Todd Joseph purchased it in Dec. 2013 with the intention to raze the iconic home to make way for a multi-unit complex.
It was an all too familiar scenario for the Roxborough community after watching the Bunting House on the corner of Ridge and Roxborough Avenues be demolished in Dec. 2012 only to remain a vacant lot more than two years later.
As time wore on and attempts at negotiation with Joseph, who has been described as “difficult to work with,” seemed fruitless, many feared the historic home on Green Lane would follow a similar fate.
A new owner
But last month, word got out that the property was under new ownership. Ross, who owns a plumbing and heating company on Manayunk Avenue, purchased the property for $285,000.
Joseph, who originally purchased the home for $200,100 was initially asking $379,000 despite allowing the house to fall further into disrepair.
“Yes I am the one who just bought 365 Green Lane,” said Ross in a letter of introduction to the CRCA. “This building has sentimental value to me. I took piano lessons here as a child; so did my brother William… I took on this project not necessarily to make money — I want to make my neighborhood a great place to live.”
Ross went on to say he would be willing to present his plans to the community at a CRCA meeting.
True to his word, Ross came to the meeting with architectural drawings in hand. While still in the initial planning and design phase, Ross assured the neighbors that the home will maintain its original footprint.
“The front of the house will remain as-is” Ross said, aside from repairs and cosmetic updates like new stucco and the removal of the asbestos roof.
The most significant changes will come to the back of the house where Ross plans to build an addition to make the home three stories throughout. As it stands, the property drops to one floor in the back of the home.
Ross also intends to add a one-car wide driveway and possibly a carriage house/garage. The original carriage house was demolished by Joseph last summer.
A family home
Ross, who in addition to his heating and plumbing company has rehabbed and sold over 20 properties in the Roxborough area over the past three years, was initially unsure whether he would keep or sell 365 Green Lane after rehabilitation was complete.
“My wife has had a change of heart over the past few weeks and we’ve decided we will be moving into the house,” he said. The couple has two young sons.
Ross estimates the project will take no longer than eight to 10 months.
“I can usually turn around a home pretty quickly,” he said. “Once I get started on something, I don’t stop until it’s done.”
Ross said as he continues to plan and design, he is open to community suggestions and that once the house is complete, he is willing to have it considered for historic designation.