Wilde Yarns project gets support from Manayunk residents

With concerns about parking satisfied, the Manayunk Neighborhood Council has approved plans for development at the former Wilde Yarns site on Main Street.

The project will transform the three buildings of the dormant Wilde Yarns Factory on the 3700 block of Main St. into approximately 43 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, with a fourth structure to be constructed to serve as a link between the buildings.

Rents were estimated as being $1,100 for a studio, $1,300 for the one-bedroom apartments, and $1,800 for two-bedroom apartments, which range respectively from 600 to 1,100 square feet.

The plans for the site had been the topic of several prior meetings at the adjacent Wissahickon Neighbors Association in recent months: after extended conversations about parking at the site, developers devised a plan that would satisfy WNCA standards for a 1:1 parking space per unit ratio.

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However, as the project’s Main Street address also falls within MNC’s borders, Wilde Yarns’ developers Scott Janzen and Peter Bloomfield appeared before the Manayunk civic this month in order to receive additional community approval for their rehabilitation of the 19th Century site.

Addressing parking and security concerns 

Last week, Janzen and Bloomfield explained that while their zoning application stated a request for 45 apartments at the site, given the difficulty of finding adequate on-site parking – interior apartments were shifted, and rock from the cliffs upon which the building sits was removed – they will likely build only 43 apartments.

They insisted that no additional units beyond the 45 approved would be constructed.

The parking will be accommodated with both exterior and interior configurations: two lots are envisioned for Main Street, with an interior unit on the building’s first floor and three additional spaces on Cresson St. on the site’s northern boundary. Janzen noted that any parking along adjacent streets is not included in their final tally, of which 22 are interior parking spaces.

MNC president Kevin Smith explained to residents and the developers that his organization’s protocol is to request that all parking be included in the rental fee, discouraging off-site parking that would tax limited space on neighborhood streets.

In response, Janzen said that outdoor spots will be provided free of charge, with a projected $95 per month fee for those parking indoors, a model which he said is similar to that of other nearby apartment complexes.He related that they will be “motivated” to fill the interior spaces.

“If we’re finding that we can’t charge $95 a month, we’re going to charge less,” said Janzen, adding that multiple spaces per unit will be considered only after each resident has been given an opportunity to acquire a space. He also reiterated the belief that some residents will opt to forego vehicles, opting instead to use nearby public transit.

MNC vice-president John Hunter said that their plan was “consistent” with what other developers had been asked to do.

Responding to residents’ concerns about security in and around the site, Janzen said that he plans for external video surveillance at the site, which Bloomfield said would be enhanced by the presence of additional residents.”43 residents, with their eyes, will help security coming and going,” he said.

A 12 to 13-month project 

With community approval obtained, developers will continue their work rehabilitating the site, and will go before the ZBA on Mar. 13. Some environmental issues on the site are being addressed: “Nothing major,” Bloomfield reported, explaining that the concerns were related to the production of carpet dyes at the site.

Construction is expected to begin in May and will last approximately 12 to 13 months.

“When driving by,” predicted Bloomfield, “we think your experience will be ‘It looks like an old factory – but nicer.'”

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