Officials with Weavers Way Co-op are questioning whether it’s appropriate for a project manager of a controversial development in Chestnut Hill to double as the leader of the local business improvement district.
In a letter recently published in The Shuttle, the food market’s monthly newspaper, General Manager Glenn Bergman expressed his concern that Seth Shapiro is the one spearheading Bowman Properties’ efforts to redevelop the old Magarity Ford site. It’s a plan that—as proposed—Bergman doesn’t support.
“I question whether this development is in the best interests of the Chestnut Hill Business District, and whether Mr. Shapiro, as the President of the Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District, should be serving as broker for a deal that could so negatively impact the existing businesses on the Avenue,” opines Bergman.
The grocery store-anchored project at 8200 Germantown Ave. has also raised concerns for some nearby residents, who argue that the development’s height and mass are out of character for the small-town neighborhood.
But, not everyone has a problem with Shapiro wearing both hats. “I don’t see how anything we do would come in conflict with an action of a business or a developer. It’s just not what the role of the Business Improvement District is,” said Barbara Baumbach, a BID board member who is the office manager of the George Woodward Co., a property management outfit.
Baumbach said the BID is charged with representing property owners along Germantown Avenue, the neighborhood’s commercial corridor. Duties include keeping the 10-block stretch safe and maintaining the overall aesthetics of Chestnut Hill’s business community. Activities include flower plantings and street sweepings, among other things. Landlords along the Avenue pay annual dues to the BID for those services.
Fellow BID member Amy Edelman, owner of the Night Kitchen Bakery, hadn’t even considered there being a problem with Shapiro.
“It wasn’t on my radar,” said Edelman, who joined the BID board this year.
Shapiro has decided to stay out of this. He declined our invitation for an interview on this story.
In an interview this week, Bergman said that Shapiro was a good representative of the BID, but that he should have “seen the conflict coming.” He doesn’t plan on pursuing the issue any further.
“He’s already done it. It’s too late,” said Bergman.