Zoning board approves Manayunk school conversion, Chestnut Hill College signs

The zoning board of adjustment Wednesday gave the go-ahead to a plan that would convert the former St. Lucy School in Manayunk to apartments, and approved a pair of new signs for Chestnut Hill College along Germantown Avenue.

Builder Andy Mulson won approval to remake the former parochial school campus on Green Lane and Smick Street, turning the now-empty parish school into 14 apartment units, topped by a roof deck. The deck is set back from Green Lane and centered on top of the building, to keep it from looking into any houses. The plan needed a variance to exceed allowable height, to provide the roof access, said attorney Bill O’Brien.

The Green View Apartments 

The building will be renamed The Green View Apartments, and each unit will have a parking spot at a nearby Parkway Corporation lot included in rents. O’Brien said the parking lot was included in the rental leases as part of an agreement with the Manayunk Neighborhood Council, to discourage residents from parking on the street to avoid paying for a spot. The building will also have an interior bike parking area.

Behind the school, on Smick Street, the former St. Lucy’s rectory and attached garage will also come down, replaced by three townhouses. The homes will have side-facing stairs in front and no garages, eliminating the existing curb cut at the rectory’s driveway. The three-story houses will also have roof decks.

The townhouses needed a variance because they don’t meet the current minimum lot size, but O’Brien said, they are larger than some existing adjacent properties. The houses will have 20-ft deep back yards, backing up to St. David’s Street. Renderings show the new homes with brick fronts and traditional rowhouse design details consistent with the rest of the street.

Mulson also has plans to build nine homes across Green Lane, where the St. Lucy Church parking lot is now, but those will come later and likely be part of a separate zoning appeal.

New signage in Chestnut Hill 

In another Northwest case before the zoning board yesterday, Chestnut Hill College won a variance to allow two new signs to replace existing ones for the college and the Sisters of Saint Joseph convent along Germantown Avenue.

The new signage will be attached to two existing pillars, with a round cut-out medallion style design, said attorney Peter Kelsen, who presented the variance application. They’ll be illuminated from the ground up, bathing them in light and making them more visible, he said.

The variance was needed because although the nearest neighbor is more than 1,000 feet away, current standards say a new sign would require a setback, Kelsen said.

While many past aspects of the college’s expansion plans were the subject of controversy and lengthy discussions in Chestnut Hill, the signs were unopposed. Kelsen said the college arrived at its final plan after discussions with the Chestnut Hill Community Association.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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