New mixed-use project on Germantown Avenue will bring influx of young renters to Mt. Airy

Mt. Airy’s Tourison’s Hall will soon be history. 

The building at 6656-62 Germantown Ave., which last housed a dialysis center, is being razed to the ground. In its place, a new four-story structure will rise boasting 28 luxury apartments above 3,800 square feet of street level retail space. 

The multi-million dollar redevelopment project will transform a piece of real estate on the neighborhood’s commercial corridor which has stood vacant for three years.

“We’re adding some real life to an area that needs it,” said Jared Pontz, Vice President and Managing Partner at Martin Elfant Inc. Real Estate.

The target: millennials with discretionary income

Pontz, who has partnered with Bob Elfant, Conshohocken’s How Properties and Max Berger of MBA Equities on the venture, says their target market is young professionals.

Apartment units will range from efficiencies to two bedrooms, all with in-unit laundry, dishwasher, central air and outdoor space. Prices will range from $900 to $1100 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,200 to $1,400 for two-bedroom units.

Gone will be the existing 20-car parking lot, the first 30 feet of which will become part of the new building’s retail space. Behind that, and covered by residential units, will be parking for 16 vehicles, plus dedicated bicycle parking. Access and egress will be from Westview Street.

The retail space will be divided into two storefronts, each with a basement.

Pontz says that parking would likely be reserved for residential tenants, though that restriction depends on who occupies the commercial space.

“We’ll see how that plays out,” he said, adding that it’s not likely that every renter will own a car.

A boon for Mt. Airy’s south end?

Though the project can be built by-right, Pontz said he and his partners met with the community three times. They wanted to avoid any potential firestorms, like what happened when a Wingstop restaurant tried to come to a vacant building on the opposite corner in 2013.

Feedback was mostly positive, he said.

Jimmie Reed, proprietor of Little Jimmie’s Bakery Cafe and Little Jimmie’s Bake House is one of the project’s most vocal supporters.

He commends the developers for taking on the risk. Redevelopment projects of this nature are not being done along the struggling stretch of Germantown Ave., he said.

Reed believes it could be the catalyst to attracting more business and private investment to the area — key to revitalizing Mt. Airy’s south end.

“They’re not building a housing project, meth clinic, or shelter. This is something positive,” he said.

With two shops on the avenue’s 6600 block, he can attest to the need for increased foot traffic. Creating a thriving business corridor for the entire community is an imperative.

“It’s not fair that we can’t have it on the south end and I demand it as a business owner,” Reed said.

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