Talk about timing: A few minutes before officials gathered Friday to break ground on a new apartment complex called The Station at Manayunk, the SEPTA train that inspired the project rolled by, its whistle carrying on the autumn breeze.
First planned in 2005, the plan was “a transit oriented development proposed for this site before that term even existed,” said Mayor Nutter, who endorsed an earlier version while serving as Fourth District Councilman.
“We’ve been wanting development at this site for a long time,” he said.
The earlier plan, then under a different developer and named Umbria Village, had called for a 226-unit high-rise condo. Builder J.G. Petrucci took title to the property at the foot of Parker Avenue in November 2011 and now plans 149 rental units in a four-building layout including direct links to both the train station and the Manayunk Towpath, said Petrucci’s Greg Rogerson. It’s the company’s first project of this kind in Philadelphia, he said.
The current, $40 million project is privately financed and will take about a year to build, he said. The company has completed or is building similar projects near train lines in Maplewood and Nutley, New Jersey, along with a 233-unit project in Warminster. Units here will have 9-foot ceilings, granite countertops and stainless-steel kitchens, he said.
“This project is really aimed at young professionals, newlyweds, empty nesters, people retiring. We do not see a lot of children” or college students, Rogerson said. Single-family rental conversions and an influx of college students and recent grads are a constant concern in Manayunk and lower Roxborough.
“It’s a huge site, and this is a big undertaking,” Nutter said, reminiscing about mornings spent campaigning on the nearby train platform. “This is another sign that people are bullish on Philadelphia, and are investing in the city.”
Curtis Jones Jr., the current Fourth District Councilman, credited Nutter for the original vision for bringing people who will “work, live and play in the same area” at the site. He said the new residents would benefit area commercial retailers and encourage use of public transit.
The old train bridge at the entrance to the site is being preserved, and the ground under it was dug out to accommodate traffic moving under it to get to the Station at Manayunk site. Located at 4862 Umbria St., the development sits on an eight-acre site that rests on a bluff above the Manayunk Canal.
There’s been discussion about whether the site actually sits in Roxborough, but as project officials pointed out, it’s in the 19127 zip code — so Manayunk it is.
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