Seventy apartments, 150 parking spaces planned for vacant lot at 9th and Washington

On Tuesday night, the owners of a vacant, boarded-off property on 9th Street just south of Washington Ave., in the Italian Market, presented their preliminary plans for a new development there to the Passyunk Square Civic Association. Before they did, Jared Klein, the association’s zoning committee chairman, said he wanted to get something out of the way.

“This presentation will include parking,” he said, a tacit plea for the attendees not to repeat a contentious meeting a few months ago about a proposal for the lot across from Pat’s at 9th and Wharton, which did not include parking.

“How much parking?” mumbled a man in the back row.

Enough parking, if the placid tenor of the rest of the presentation is the right measure.

Midwood Investment & Development, the group that built the new Cheesecake Factory at 15th and Walnut, is hoping to build 70 residential units on the site with about 150 parking spaces. About half of those spaces would be offered publicly for Italian Market shoppers and restaurant goers. The proposal includes 18,000 square feet of retail space, fronting on 9th Street and wrapping around onto Washington Avenue. On Darien Street, an alley running parallel to 9th, the developers plan to build 8 single-family trinity houses.

The proposed building, which the developers stressed is still in a conceptual development phase, would be about 70 feet tall, with small retail spaces they hope to rent to local vendors. John Usdan, Midwood’s president, said he would try to temporarily relocate Anastasio’s, a seafood restaurant at the corner of 9th and Washington, and bring it back when the building is complete. He said he hadn’t made any firm plans with restaurant yet.

The parking would be built entirely underground and accessed by a loading space on 9th Street. The developers said Darien Street is too narrow for loading, and a loading zone on Washington Avenue would encourage residents coming from the east to cross a lane of traffic to get into the parking lot, which could cause too much congestion.  

Usdan said the goal of the development is to revive that portion of the market and get people to come there into the evening. Much of the market currently shuts down around the end of the business day. The developers would hope to bring restaurants into the project in addition to retail shops.

They’re asking Councilman Mark Squilla to introduce a bill rezoning the property from CMX-2, which has a 38-foot height limit, to CMX-3. The higher zoning classification has no height limit and allows a wider array of commercial uses.

Peter Kelsen, an attorney representing the developers, said the group would come back and make a formal presentation to the civic association before the bill moves forward in Council. The association would likely take a vote on whether to support the project at the next presentation.

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