Umbria Village apartment complex gets the green light from city officials

File this one under Transit-Oriented Development: An apartment complex almost attached to the Ivy Ridge SEPTA station got the go-ahead from city agencies this week.

Umbria Village, at 1 Parker Ave., was granted needed zoning variances to bring 168 apartments, 199 parking spots and a clubhouse with pool to a long-unused site between Umbria Street and the Manayunk Canal.

Developer J.G. Petrucci of Hunterdon County, New Jersey, plans a low-profile cluster of 15 four-story buildings of one- and two-bedroom units, and will preserve and upgrade an old Pennsylvania Railroad bridge at the foot of Parker Avenue, said project attorney Richard Hayden of Saul Ewing.

Earlier this week, the city Planning Commission recommended granting the variances; the ZBA voted Wednesday to approve the project and the developer will now seek building permits, Hayden said. 

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At the PCPC’s hearing on the project, Joseph DePascale of J.G. Petrucci said his company had created similar communities near transit stations in North and Central New Jersey and was responding to a current demand for transit-oriented living.

“I can have my folks walk directly onto the train station tracks and leave their cars in the parking lot,” DePascale said Planning Commission members. One of the buildings will back up to the platform of the train station.

Units will rent for about $1.70/square foot, DePascale said, putting them out of reach of college-age renters, adding his own son had “lived in Manayunk with five other guys in a house” while attending St. Joseph’s University.

“That’s not going to happen. This is going to be a much higher-scale, higher number apartment complex,” he said.

The Ridge Park Civic Association’s board also voted to endorse the project, despite ongoing neighborhood concerns about increasing numbers of rental units in the area. “I am hopeful that, because of its location, it will draw tenants who will commute to work by train instead of by car,” said RPCA board member Marlene Schleifer.

The development will create a new public access point to the Schuylkill River Trail via a set of stairs. A handicap-accessible ramp was unworkable because of the steep grade, Hayden said.

It also sits high enough off the river and canal as to be out of the flood plain.

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