Another Germany Hill development plan could be in the works

Owners of part of the Germany Hill site in Roxborough and Manayunk, long a target of conservation efforts by neighbors, are set to detail another proposal for a potential development this week, NewsWorks has learned.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Ridge Park Civic Association, representatives of owners Greg Ventresca and Walt Lewis are scheduled to appear to detail their latest plan, officials confirm. Ventresca and Lewis own about eight acres of Germany Hill, a hilly, undeveloped area of green space between Fountain Street and Parker Avenue in Manayunk and Roxborough; the city owns the other 12 acres.

Attorney Darwin Beauvais, who represented Ventresca and Lewis before the city Planning Commission in February, confirmed they would present a new Germany Hill plan this week, but declined to discuss details in advance.

RPCA vice president Patti Brennan confirmed the property owners had contacted the civic and requested to make a presentation at the group’s quarterly meeting, scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the 5th District Police Station on Ridge Avenue. But she didn’t have specifics of the plan.

In 2005, the Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to a 48-home subdivision within Germany Hill. But a full plan never materialized, and both the former 4th District Councilman, Michael Nutter, and current one, Curtis Jones Jr., have said they’re committed to keeping Germany Hill untouched.

Late last year, Jones toured the site with RPCA members and in February, introduced a bill to delete a “paper street” portion of Cinnaminson Street which, if paved and opened, would provide access to the site, allowing potential development. The Planning Commission voted against the bill, and Jones later pulled the measure from consideration.

There has been talk of trying to negotiate a land swap with Ventresca and Lewis for another piece of city-owned land, but the status of those talks is unclear. Jones’ spokeswoman, Michelle Patrice Wilson, said the Councilman would issue an update on the status of his bills sometime after the development presentation but that he remains committed to preserving Germany Hill.

Brennan said a land swap was still the best-case scenario. “We are adamantly against development of that site,” she said, adding that the previous approval shouldn’t figure into any future decisions.

“All that preliminary approval means is they told [Ventresca and Lewis] ‘Go and develop your plans and come back to us,’ and he never did,” Brennan said.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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