A proposal to legalize a multi-family Manayunk home was voted down by neighbors last week at a meeting of the Manayunk Neighborhood Council. Developers of a property on the 4200 block of Boone St. sought to legalize an existing three-family conversion in a three story residence currently zoned for single family usage.
Recently purchased from a bank after its foreclosure, the approximately 1800 square foot row home has been vacant since January of 2011.
Noting that the property has been operating as a multi-family for at least the 12 years, Attorney Vernon Anastasio said that his client, owner Dan Kane, would like to legally change the home’s status in order to obtain rental licenses and comply with city code.
Three units are inside: the two one-bedroom residences occupying the bottom floors are approximately 650 square feet each; the residence on the third floor is an efficiency that is approximately 400 square ft.
In addition to the preexisting divisions in the residence, there are three separate PECO billing and Streets Department trash accounts at the address. It is taxed as a revenue-generating, three-family rental. Beyond this, Anastasio noted that there are approximately a dozen other such properties within a block of the Boone St. residence.
“This is not only not unusual to the immediate area,” said Anastasio, “it’s not unusual to the property.”
While not without precedent, residents wanted to know more about how the property would be used – and by whom.
In response, Kane, a resident a Ft. Washington, said he intends to market the property to graduate students and young professionals, “people who would generally be a one-bed, single occupant user.”
The subject of parking, a perennial problem in Manayunk and throughout the city, was also raised. Residents of Boone St. said that the street becomes overflow parking for the entire neighborhood after 7 p.m.
Residents also expressed concern about the exterior condition of the house, which was described by some as being “blighted.” Kane said that he would address the cosmetic issues, but there would be no modification of the house’s façade.
John Hunter, chair of the MNC’s zoning committee, explained that properties in Manayunk are primarily zoned as single-family dwellings. He added that anomalies exist – be they legal from the outset, or be they subsequently legalized. He expressed concern that approving the Bonne St. property would set a precedent and urged the developers to return it to a single family home.
Anastasio countered this by saying that property is currently set up as a triplex, and that returning the building to single-family would create a hardship for the owner.
MNC president Kevin Smith said that he felt the Boone St. property had few qualities that would merit its being grandfathered-in by an approval by the civic association. Hunter added that approval of legalization proposals is against MNC policy, again referencing precedent.
Prior to their departure, Anastasio alluded to the possibility of negotiating a duplex at the site with MNC. Ruling out the site’s use as a triplex, a MNC motion not opposing a duplex at the site failed. A second motion, opposing the use of multi-family, carried.
The developer’s zoning hearing is June 18.