Renewed vision for Manayunk’s Umbria Village

It’s the same name, but a very different vision for a possible residential development near SEPTA’s Ivy Ridge train station in Manayunk.

Umbria Village had first been proposed — and approved by the city Planning Commission — as a 226-unit, high-rise gated condo project in March, 2005, with a nod from then-Councilman Michael Nutter despite concerns about parking and access to the Schuylkill River Trail. Those plans eventually collapsed along with the residential housing market.

A new developer, J.G. Petrucci Co., has stepped in and is proposing a much smaller plan featuring 168 rental units on a three-level elevation with garages underneath. The site is at 4862 Umbria St., at the foot of Parker Avenue on an 8-acre parcel. It would include 112 one-bedroom, 757-square-foot units and 56 two-bedroom, 1,015 square-foot units.

Developers first introduced the new Umbria Village project to the Ridge Park Civic Association a few months ago, but met again with them last week for an update on parking, public access to the Manayunk Canal and Towpath, environmental concerns and the target market of potential renters.

Richard Hayden of Saul Ewing LLP, who represented the neighborhood in the state House of Representatives from 1987 to 1992, is attorney for the current developer. Hayden said the developers would likely meet with the community one more time to answer any remaining questions about parking before seeking approval from the city Planning Commission.

Marlene Schleifer, a member of the RCPA, said she and others are concerned about adding yet more rental units to Manayunk when so many formerly owner-occupied homes have become havens for rowdy, college-age tenants.

Hayden said exact rental prices haven’t been set but added that Umbria Village would not be marketed to student renters. “The target market here is the professionals, and people who are employed and can handle these kinds of rents, so it’s not the college crowd,” he said.

Originally, the developer had wanted to remove an abandoned SEPTA train bridge on the site, but it will be preserved after input from neighbors who want it as part of ongoing rail-to-trail efforts in the area, he said. Also, the site will include public access to the towpath and canal.

The site is currently zoned G-1 commercial, but Hayden said developers would seek a variance to have the site approved R-10, similar to residential developments along lower Parker Avenue. The developer’s traffic study showed at least 20 percent of the tenants would use public transit.

Right now, a total of 232 parking spaces are included in the plan, slightly more than the 224 required, but given the way the streets around the train station are choked with cars each day, Hayden said developers were eyeing ways to make more.

“We’re taking yet another look at parking to see if we can fit any more on the parcel, and if it’s feasible, we will,” he said.

Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com

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