Some Germantown residents want an apartment building owner to take down posters of scantily clad women advertising the complex’s special features.
But some of the same residents who object to the posters could find the apartment building owner a useful ally in an effort to improve the quality of a supermarket planned for the neighborhood.
The New Delmar Morris apartments next to the Chelten train station in Germantown began leasing last weekend, and several neighbors on West Chelten Avenue soon made it clear they don’t like the apartments’ outdoor advertising pitch.
Two six-foot-tall posters, which hang on the front of the building, show women in underwear, or bathing suits, frolicking in the suds of the apartments’ large bathtubs. “We’re both six feet tall,” one poster reads.
“I think they’re offensive,” said Abbe Fletman. “They suggest that if you rent an apartment there they will be peopled with scantily clad women.”
Fletman and several others from the West Chelten Avenue neighborhood have been calling and emailing the management at New Delmar to complain since the posters went up.
One email to Michael Pestronk, president of Post Brothers Apartments, which owns and manages the building, read, “We find the posters degrading to women and are concerned about the demographic group you are trying to reach by displaying these advertisements for your apartments.”
Pestronk hasn’t taken down the signs. He thinks the complaints indicate an unwillingness to accept new people into the neighborhood.
“Some of them are not happy, but they are bigots,” he said. “They don’t like the demographic element that these signs are attracting. The demographic element these signs are attracting is young people.”
Pestronk said his company is aiming for highly paid professionals, between 25 and 35 years old, who make enough money to pay for those 6 foot showers and luxury apartment rates, but are not so settled that they are looking to buy.
He says the posters have been effective, attracting four new tenants this week alone. The 65 unit building is already half rented, he said.
But Fletman thinks the job of defining obscenity should be a community effort, not a purely economic one.
“Even if it’s effective you don’t get to subject the neighborhood to it,” she said.
Pestronk said he wants to smooth things out with the neighbors but has been put off by their communications, which he called “nasty-grams.”
The way to smooth things over, Fletman said, is to take the posters down.
But feud or not, many West Chelten residents could find Pestronk one of the strongest allies they have in the ongoing fight to get a higher-end supermarket and commercial development at Chelten Plaza.
Many local residents have objected to the development under construction now, primarily because of the discount supermarket and dollar store that are the planned anchors. Chelten Plaza developer Pat Burns issued a statement today indicating he is not willing to move on those components.
For the New Delmar’s luxury renters though, who will essentially live next door to Chelten Plaza, Pestronk doesn’t like Burns’ plans either.
“No. We would like to see something better to go there,” he said.
Pestronk has been attending the Germantown Community Connection meetings geared toward the Chelten Plaza, but he plans to take a harder line against Burns than GCC has been. He and the rest of his company will reach out to Burns directly to try to get a higher-end grocery store as an anchor in the development, Pestronk said.
He believes his apartments attract professionals who would otherwise not consider Germantown. He thinks that, plus the renters in the 570 units of the Rittenhouse Hill apartments (formerly the Emperian) one block away, a property his company bought just last week, will also be convincing. Post Brothers’ plans for that high rise complex is a three-year, $30 million renovation. Pestronk is betting that will be a pretty convincing customer pool for a guy like Burns, who also owns the full service grocery store chain Fresh Grocer.
In addition to complaints over the posters at the New Delmar on the West Chelten neighborhood list serve, there has been at least some discussion that Post Brothers could be a help in the Chelten Plaza effort.
This story is the product of a joint reporting partnership with G-Town Radio and NewsWorks.