A new display has been added to the window of the jewelry store with the neon “cash for gold” signs across from SugarHouse Casino: A candy-striped stop work order from L&I.
“This one was much more welcomed by the neighborhood,” said Fishtown Neighbors Association Zoning Chairman Matt Karp, who sent a photo to PlanPhilly.
FNA is among a group of community organizations that don’t want what they consider a type of pawn shop open across from SugarHouse. The casino has concerns about the business, too. See previous coverage.
But the notice applies only to the large, green neon signs in the businesses’ windows, not to the business itself, which has a valid jewelry store permit and precious metal dealer license, said License and Inspections spokeswoman Maura Kennedy.
“They don’t have (permits) for the signs,” Kennedy said. As of last week, the business was not open. It can open, or stay open, under the L&I order, Kennedy said, provided the signs go. “They would have to come into compliance – to either legalize or remove the signs,” she said.
Under the permits the store has for the business, 75 percent of its floor space must be dedicated to selling jewelry, and the metal buying must be limited to 25 percent. This is measured by floor-space only, not the percentage of receipts.
Residents were very unhappy when the green neon signs went on at the business. The property is within both the Central Delaware Zoning Overlay and the area impacted by the Commercial Entertainment District in which SugarHouse sits. Both prohibit pawn shops, check cashing stores, and other uses at the site, whose permitting address is 112 Allen Street, although the doors to the business face Delaware Avenue.
Under the new zoning code, which has not yet been adopted, cash-for-gold stores are a subcategory of pawn shop, added specifically for the sake of clarity. While neighbors and city councilmen spokespeople interviewed last week said cash-for-gold is a type of pawn shop so far as they are concerned, that specific type of store is not defined as such in the current code, so it is a gray area, a zoning code official said.
The underlying zoning of this parcel is G2 industrial. A commercial use like a jewelry store cannot operate there by-right. However, in 2008, the Zoning Board of Adjustment awarded the owner of this parcel a variance so that the portion of the building where the store is can have C-1 commercial uses.
Under the Central Delaware Zoning Overlay, which is meant as a stop-gap measure to keep development in line with the city’s vision for the waterfront until the new zoning code is in place, developers any project in a commercial zone would have to come before the City of Philadelphia Planning Commission with a detailed plan of development.
But because the underlying zoning is industrial, the plan of development guideline did not apply.
It is also the industrial zoning that will dictate what type of signage is allowed at the business, Kennedy said. PlanPhilly will get more specific information on these guidelines, but generally speaking, industrial zones have less restrictive signage requirements than commercial and residential districts do.
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