The Manayunk Neighborhood Council (MNC) has put its support behind a plan that would convert the Watermill building at the bottom of Leverington Avenue into a 20-unit apartment complex.
Nearly two dozen MNC members came out to Wednesday’s monthly meeting at the offices of the Manayunk Development Corporation to hear plans for the proposed project.
The three-story Watermill building – also known as 2 Leverington – is currently home to Caring for Cats, a feline hospital and boarding facility at 100 Leverington Avenue in Manayunk.
Under the terms of the proposed renovation, Caring for Cats will continue to occupy a majority of the ground floor, with the remaining first floor space to be transformed into two one-bedroom loft apartments.
The second and third floors will be converted into both one and two-bedroom apartments – ranging in size from 450 to 950 square feet – resulting in 20 total rental units.
Addressing parking concerns
In addition, there are plans for 36 parking spaces – 20 dedicated residential spaces, and 16 for guests.
Ronald Patterson, an attorney representing 806 Capital – the Watermill building’s developers – explained the motivations for the ample parking.
Noting his experience with Center City housing, “If you offer someone the option to buy a parking space,” he said, more often than not, “they choose not to get a space and park on the street instead.”
To combat the taxing of limited on-street parking, Patterson said the developers are factoring the price of parking into the rental price.
Jeff Pustizzi, Director of Acquisitions for 806 Capital, said that 4 spaces will be set aside during business hours, explaining that Caring for Cats indicated they won’t have further need.
“The main thing,” concluded Patterson, “is that the number of parking spaces matches the number of residential spaces.”
The focus of the presentation soon shifted from ‘how and where’ to a question on the minds of many residents – ‘who?’
“Is this,” asked Manayunk resident Dave Bass, “going to be student housing?”
Pustizzi replied in the negative, and further offered that they are not planning for what he termed “nuisance-type” use.
Queried by Bass as to means of controlling for this, Petruzzi said that the envisioned cost of the rentals – from $800 for a studio to upwards of $1,500 for a 2-bedroom – is likely to keep student renters away.
“I think the price point is not going to be something that the college-age student is looking for,” suggested Petruzzi.
Petruzzi explained that in previous developments, his company’s use of superior materials and furnishings attracts clients with bigger budgets and higher standards – typically, young professionals with long work hours.
“That’s our niche,” he said.
Furthermore, he added, the limited capacity of the apartments will be seen as a disincentive to those looking to share larger row homes.
While admitting the potential difficulty of enforcing this level of occupancy, Petruzzi offered that “the intention is that it will be one person per bedroom.”
Petruzzi emphasized that his company is interested in securing a positive experience for both renters and residents.
“We’re not looking to short shrift any of our projects,” he surmised.
The proposal will be presented to the Philadelphia Zoning Commission this month.