Zoning board delays decisions on St. Bridget and W. Johnson St. development projects

 Nolen Properties met with neighbors last week to discuss to property on West Johnson Street. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Nolen Properties met with neighbors last week to discuss to property on West Johnson Street. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Two development companies with project proposals in Northwest Philadelphia had their cases extended to a later date by the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday afternoon. 


The first of the project proposals discussed, a proposed apartment building on West Johnson Street in Mt. Airy, will have its case reheard on July 16 at 2 p.m. after having a requested continuance granted.

The second was the repurposing of St. Bridget Parish’s shuttered elementary school building between Midvale Avenue and Stanton Street in East Falls. Due to late change in the planned parking situation, the ZBA vote was postponed to an undetermined later date.

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St. Bridget’s

The parish announced in 2012 that it was unable to pay for the expenses of the school due to continued drop in enrollment. After a prolonged search for an interested renter or buyer, the parish was approached by HOW Properties with plans to repurpose the building into a 32-apartment complex.

Due to concerns from residents and the East Falls Community Council Zoning and Land-use Committee, HOW Properties aimed to meet a 1:1 parking-to-apartment ratio. After the committee showed reservations regarding the company’s initial plan to lease the church parking lot, HOW properties said they plan to buy a garage across Stanton Street, which has 12 spots.

However, within 24 hours until the ZBA meeting, plans changed again.

The other 20 spots intended for a repurposed playground southwest of the school building had a spot taken away by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections for a two-spot handicap parking space. To fill this lost space, the developers said, they contacted the church and received permission to lease one spot.

Julia Chapman, a member of the ZBA, said she would rather postpone the vote in order to get the necessary paperwork guaranteeing the 32 parking spaces, which representatives from HOW properties agreed to.

West Johnson Street

In Mt. Airy, Nolen Properties has proposed a modern five-story apartment building on an empty space between the historic Nugent and Presser buildings on West Johnson Street.

In a series of meetings with residents, Nolan Properties attempted to ease local concern by offering to move the building back 50 feet from the street and reduce the height by a story. Despite this, the West Mt. Airy Neighbors neighborhood group voted 15-5 in opposition to the proposal going into the ZBA meeting.

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