East Falls zoning committee debates St. Bridget building’s future, catering-company expansion

The fate of the shuttered St. Bridget parish’s elementary school in East Falls was presented at the neighborhood’s zoning and land use committee meeting on Wednesday night.

With continued vocal opposition from some local residents, the future of the building remains uncertain.

The owners of the property, The East Falls Catholic Church, announced in 2012 that it will be unable to pay the expenses for the school due to a prolonged drop in enrollment. The church found a buyer interested in the property late last year — HOW Properties. 

On Wednesday, representatives from the Philadelphia real-estate management firm presented a modified plan to address local residents’ concerns.

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The plan calls for a 32-apartment complex with nine of the units reserved for residents aged 55 years and older.

Addressing neighbors’ concerns

In an attempt to counter concerns for the area’s already sparse parking, the revised plan proposes the company’s originally desired one-to-one parking ratio by expanding the church parking lot along Midvale Avenue into the adjacent hill via retaining walls.

The company also promised to incentivize tenants to not have cars by offering a lower rent, which could range from $1,150 to $2,150 depending on the size and location of the apartment.

The representatives additionally said they expect the future plans to include interior trash collection and non-intrusive lighting, adding the plan is for the exterior to largely be kept as-is. 

Expanding Brulée

The second major subject up for discussion was the expansion of the Brulée Catering venue in the shopping plaza along Scotts Lane.

Barry Gutin, vice president of catering at Brulée, presented a zoning variance request in order to expand the number of people allowed at the company’s catering events held at the location.

The proposal called for events with over 400 people attending to include parking at an off-site parking lot nearby. Additionally, an off-duty police officer — paid for by Brulée — would direct traffic on the corner of Ridge Avenue and Scotts Lane as part of the proposal.

Gutin said he promises to make all attempts to reduce noise as some events may have up to 750 people and could go until midnight.

Gutin’s representing lawyer, Hercules Grigos, said the next step for the proposal is have it approved by the zoning board on May 28.

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