Timeline of the Chelten Plaza saga

At 9 a.m. Friday, developer Patrick J. Burns will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for portions of The Plaza at Chelten, the much-discussed property at Chelten and Pulaski avenues that once housed a Fresh Grocer.

The site was the source of much neighbohood friction between those who embraced the $14 million project’s convenience and those who wanted something besides the Save-A-Lot grocery and Dollar Tree store that will operate on the site.

Here’s a rundown of NewsWorks’s past 10 months of coverage:

February 2011

Neighbors noticed signs that Fresh Grocer was closing soon a week before it did so. Eighth District City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller said that she knew about the grocery store closing. This, while state loans for the store had still not been paid by the developer.


Fresh Grocer closing on Chelten • Fresh Grocer closing on Chelten; Save-A-Lot opening amid many concerns • Miller knew Fresh Grocer was closing • Fresh Grocer closed with state loan still unpaid


March 2011

Representatives of Germantown Community Connection (GCC) met with the developer for the first time and set up a meeting between the developer and the community. State Rep. Rosita Youngblood said she wasn’t aware of the grocery store plans until the store closed. Neighborhood opposition started bubbling up.


$3 million in state funds for Save-A-Lot came without state rep’s OK • Big turnout in Germantown to oppose state-backed development • Irv Ackelsberg on GCC’s meeting with developer Pat Burns • Delegation formed to negotiate about Chelten Plaza


April 2011

Large community meeting allowed neighbors to line up and express disdain about Chelten Plaza. Afterwards, GCC continued meeting with the developer through an ad hoc committee and, later, a design committee but Pulaski Partners refused to change tenant mix and many aspects of the project.


Developer shows little flexibility on Chelten Plaza • An interview with developer Pat Burns about Chelten Plaza • Rep. Youngblood moves to stop work at Chelten Plaza • Community members line up to express disdain for development plan


May 2011

A neighborhood petition against Chelten Plaza had more than 1,000 signatures on it, but Pulaski Partners said their petition yielded 2,200 for the new Save-A-Lot. Meanwhile, the GCC decided to oppose the original Chelten Plaza plan. Patrick Burns’s Germantown development was deemed very similar to a Fresh Grocer turned SaveA-Lot in Darby borough. Shawn Rinnier talked publicly about plans for the new Save-A-Lot.


1000 (and counting) say no to Chelten Plaza • Burns’ developments similar in Germantown, Darby • An interview with Save-A-Lot’s Shawn Rinnier • Germantown Community Connection decides on Chelten Plaza • 2,200 sign in favor of a Save-A-Lot at Chelten Plaza


June 2011

Anti-Chelten Plaza neighbors said GCC is moving too slow and form a new organization, and started to protest at the construction site weekly. GCC passed a motion to negotiate with developer.


A new organization forms to combat Chelten Plaza development • Action on Chelten Plaza – new group, new plans • GCC stance on Chelten Plaza appears to soften • Direct action against Chelten Plaza


July 2011

Protests continued at the site, while politicians weighed in on the Chelten Plaza issue. A $1 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital (RACP) grant gift from Gov. Ed Rendell brought the total of taxpayer dollars involved in the project to $4 million. However, all state funding was being held until special conditions are met. GCC opted not to join opponents’ zoning appeal.


Protests continue at Chelten Plaza • Politicians start picking sides on a controversial Germantown development • Protests at Chelten Plaza with $4 million in state funds on hold • Opponents of Chelten Plaza say protests are gaining steam • GCC may join the opposition to Chelten Plaza • When dollar stores re-brand – one new development hinges on this zoning question • Neighborhood groups prepare for Chelten Plaza zoning showdown • GCC stays out of Chelten Plaza zoning appeal


August 2011

Germantown Cares, a new neighborhood group formed to stop the project, used Special Zoning Overlay that prohibits variety stores to bring the case before the Zoning Board of Adjustments. The neighborhood remained divided over whether the GCC negotiations with the developer allowed Pulaski Partners to exaggerate the level of community support it had.


GCC design committee fighting for more than Chelten Plaza • GCC’s Ackelsberg defends negotiations with Chelten Plaza developer • Chelten Plaza protestors plan zoning appeal


September 2011

After months of preparation, the zoning board hearing was postponed at the request of Carl Primavera, attorney for Pulaski Partners. No decision was made after testimony before the ZBA. Mayor Nutter wrote a letter to the Governor promoting the release of state funding for the Chelten Plaza project. Protestors continued fighting the project.


The Germantown overlay plays a big role in next week’s Chelten Plaza hearing • Chelten Plaza hearing postponed despite opponents’ dismay • 7 things to know about the noisy Chelten Plaza saga • Sharp argument, but no vote at Chelten Plaza zoning hearing • Chelten Plaza protesters don’t plan to give up anytime soon • Mayor Nutter approves of Chelten Plaza


October 2011

The Zoning Board of Adjustments decided to push the decision about Licenses and Inspections permits back to L&I rather than ruling on the project. City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller introduced an amendment to her Special Zoning overlay prohibiting variety stores to allow projects over 7,500 square feet in Germantown. The Planning Commission did not support the amendment.


Details emerge on Chelten Plaza incentive offer to GCC • Councilwoman’s move would fast-track Chelten Plaza plan • Zoning Board ruling a mixed bag for Chelten Plaza developers, protesters • Controversial Germantown zoning amendment heads to City Council


November 2011

City Council’s Committee on Rules heard public testimony both for and against the development. Wired Beans signed a lease at Chelten Plaza. A new Community Development Corporation is formed in Germantown. The Philadelphia Planning Commission held meetings to discuss the future of Chelten Avenue.


Germantown variety-store overlay amendment up for final Council vote on Dec. 1 • Mt. Airy coffee shop signs lease with Chelten Plaza • Community input sought for Chelten Avenue corridor improvements • New Germantown CDC tries to “dream big” about neighborhood’s future


December 2011

City Council ruled in favor of the special zoning overlay amendment that will allow 7,500 square feet variety stores in Germantown. Protestors against the project threatened to sue. Patrick Burns announced ribbon-cutting ceremony for Save-A-Lot and Anna’s Linens openings on Dec. 9.


Discontent lingers after City Council unanimously passes Germantown variety store amendment. As Chelten Plaza readies to open, quotes from each side of the divide.

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