Plans to convert shuttered Wayne Junction factory into daycare leave neighbors concerned

Neighbors near Wayne Junction want more information from a property owner looking to convert a long-empty factory building into a daycare center and housing units.

Peer Investments is seeking a zoning variance to allow a mixed-use project, with a daycare center and apartments at street level and more on the second and third floors, for a total of 23 units.

The property is zoned for industrial use but sits just on the edge of a residential block.

Meeting reaction

The project’s attorney, Robert Rosin, and architect, Raymond Rola, appeared last week at a meeting hosted by the Wakefield 49ers community group, Germantown Restoration CDC and Germantown Community Connection.

Several people who attended told NewsWorks there wasn’t enough information provided for them to decide whether to support it.

One described the presentation as little more than an architectural drawing, with few answers to queries about where residents would park, who might live in the building and why the ground floor was being planned as a daycare center and instead of another use.

Rosalind McKelvey, of Wakefield 49ers, said it seems unlikely residents of the building would use the daycare center since just two of the 23 apartments planned to have two bedrooms.

“We were open to the idea of a residential renovation in that building,” she said, “but neighbors thought possibly something else other than a daycare, like a coffee shop” would work better on the first floor.

Logistical concerns

Other neighbors asked about the building’s environmental condition, saying at one time it was a factory that made bombs or land mines.

McKelvey said the project’s representatives suggested environmental and traffic studies were an expense the property’s owner wasn’t prepared to make until the plans were approved and the project was going forward.

“It was just lacking,” McKelvey said of the presentation. “We had to ask a few times about who the owner was going to be. I don’t think they had enough information to give comfort to the neighbors and groups who came out.”

Property records reviewed

According to city records, Peer Investments bought the building, tucked away at Stenton and Abbottsford avenues, in 2010 and has been tax delinquent each year since.

A city website shows the property owner in collections for balances in 2011 and 2012, which would have to be satisfied before the project could get zoning-board approval.

NewsWorks has reached out to Rosin about the property’s ownership status and the plans for it, but has yet to get a response.

McKelvey said the project representatives have been invited back to the Wakefield 49ers’ next meeting, scheduled for June 10, to give a more detailed presentation.

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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