Wissahickon civic approves latest plans for Wilde Yarns apartment complex and pair of Markle St. homes

On Monday night, the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association approved two plans that will bring additional housing to their neighborhood.

After several months of debate about parking, a newly-approved development project will transform the three buildings of the dormant Wilde Yarns Factory on the 3700 block of Main St. into 45 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, with a fourth structure to be constructed to serve as a link between the buildings.

A second project approved Monday night would bring a pair of semi-detached, 4-bedroom, three-story homes to the 400 block of Markle St.

Representatives for the Markle Street project needed community approval for a “minor deviation” from Philadelphia code, as the 60-foot lot is approximately four feet too small to accommodate the two 16-foot wide homes while maintaining city requirements for side yard width.

Wilde Yarns site 

In response to community concerns, the developers of the Wilde Yarns site spent months determining the feasibility of adding additional parking to their project.

In October, WNCA members decided to delay a vote approving the project, as the site would have accommodated 41 vehicles, four short of the 1:1 parking standard observed by WNCA. 

In December, the developers returned to WNCA, reporting that four additional spaces were culled after shifting apartment space and removing rock at the site.

According to documents provided by the Wilde Yarns developers in December, 18 of the 45 spaces will be interior parking, with the remainder exterior. On Monday night, developers reported that 22 spaces will become interior parking.

Given the difficulty of finding suitable space to accommodate WNCA’s 1:1 parking ratio, developer Scott Janzen said that the amount of apartments in the building may decrease, but insisted that no additional units beyond the 45 thus approved would be constructed.

Rents were estimated as being $1,300 for the 27 one-bedroom apartments and $1,800 for the 15 two-bedroom apartments.

With WNCA’s approval, Wilde Yarns’ developers must also seek approval from the Philadelphia Historical Commission but Janzen said he expected to have that in hand as soon as Tuesday.

Developers will go before the ZBA on Feb. 20.

Pair of Markle Street homes 

Up the hill on Markle St. developers are looking to transform a lot approximately 60-feet wide into two twins, a lot that attorney David Orphanides suggested would be too big for one residence.

Orphanides added that putting two 14-foot homes into the space was investigated, but the developers determined that the resultant homes – which would conform to code – would feel too small.

Responding to the refusal issued to the developers by Licenses and Inspections with regard to insufficient side yard space, Orphanides said that he surveyed adjacent properties and found that the width of the house was in keeping with the other Markle Street properties.

While some residents were concerned that the homes construction would create a disturbance in their neighborhood, builder Jerry Olsen observed that after the foundation was laid, all building equipment would be kept on-site.

While residents maintained previous concerns about parking at the homes – two off-street parking spaces will be included with each – Olsen indicated that his target buyer for the homes are families, not students, suggesting that the $290,000 to $325,000 price point would result in quick sales.

With approval secured by WNCA, construction is expected to begin by May and last up to five months.Olsen and Orphanides are due before the ZBA on Feb. 26.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.