New residential development coming at Garrett-Dunn site in Mt. Airy

 A rendering of Pipers Glen. (Courtesy of Elfant Wissahickon Realtors)

A rendering of Pipers Glen. (Courtesy of Elfant Wissahickon Realtors)

A West Mt. Airy property with an illustrious history but troubled past will finally see residential development.

Pipers Glen, a 32-unit condominium and townhouse project will soon come to the 1.5 acre Garrett-Dunn site at 7048 Germantown Ave., next door to the Acme supermarket.

Construction on the first units is expected to be finished by late spring 2016.

The $12 million project is being undertaken by new owner, MEH Investments, which has entered an agreement of sale for the property with Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners.

When complete, the development will have 10 condominiums fronting the avenue and 22 townhouses situate behind them.

Brad McCleary, MEH’s Vice President of Business Development says while the location has always been appealing, timing was never right for development until now.

“We feel like Mt. Airy’s business district is thriving and there’s a need for new construction and additional density along Germantown Avenue,” he stated.

Pipers Glen will be the largest of several new development projects in the neighborhood, including a 28-apartment and retail complex on the 6600 block of Germantown Ave., 20 condo units at the Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church (also on the avenue) and a planned 24-unit condominium and retail building at 520 Carpenter Lane across from Weavers Way.


The property was once the site of the 19th century Garrett-Dunn House, built in 1835 as a summer retreat for merchant George Howell Garrett by renown architect Thomas Ustick Walter.

It was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2006, after West Mt. Airy Neighbors rallied to protect the landmark from developer John Capoferri. Capoferri eventually put forth a plan to convert the house and its adjacent stone barn into 19 condos.

But in early 2008 construction stalled and the house was left exposed to the elements for months until a judge authorized the city to stabilize the property.

Then on Aug. 2, 2009, lightning struck and the historic house was destroyed.

Capoferri wound up sentenced to jail time for theft, forgery and fraud the following year.

Next, Iron Stone bought the property at a sheriff sale and the project was redesigned to make way for 32 condominiums.

However, plans never materialized. By 2012, the Wissahickon Village Cohousing group actively pursued working together with Iron Stone to make the condos home to their intentional community, but began looking elsewhere when the property was put up for sale the following year.

The parcel remained overgrown with weeds and strewn with debris and litter.

Halligan Development Team will retain the same number of residences proposed by Iron Stone, but change how the units will be organized. Instead of a condominium building with one entrance for all units, the five duplexes condos will each have its own entrance.

The townhouses will also be grouped into clusters rather than the former plan of two rows.

Spacious units with a sizable price tag

The three-story limestone and red brick buildings with seamed metal bay windows will sit behind an existing Wissahickon schist wall that borders the sidewalk on Germantown Ave. A second wall will sit behind that, 6-feet above grade, to create a garden boundary.

Inside, units will feature red oak flooring, open floor plans and a luxury appliance package. Buyers will be offered an opportunity to customize their interior design.

Each unit will have one dedicated parking space in front of its entrance. There will also be an additional eight spaces allocated for guest parking.

Because of proximity to the Wissahickon Watershed, the project boasts 95 percent porous eco-construction.

This includes porous pavers and a dog park for residents located in the rear right side of the development.

“The goal was to make it as green as possible,” said Christoper Plant of Elfant Wissahickon Realtors.

He says the price point is about as affordable as it gets for new construction.

The three-story, 2700-square foot townhouses start at $450,000 for three and four bedroom units, all with 650 square-foot roof decks.

The roof decks are what will set the development apart from other new construction in the northwest, Plant asserted. Decks will be constructed by E-Built LLC, the firm behind the Ice House development in Fishtown.

All of the 1400-square foot bi-level condominiums will have three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Those on the ground and basement level cost $315,000, each with small patios facing Germantown Ave. The upper level condos (second and third floors) are priced at $355,000 and feature 650-square foot roof decks.

Construction to start in Oct.

Construction is slated to begin in mid-October, following settlement, and will move in stages. A minimum of five units will be completed in late spring.

The rest of construction will take place cluster by cluster and should be done within 18 to 24 months, Plant said.

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