PENNSPORT IN CRISIS: Neighbors Angry At Developer’s Plan For St. Casimir’s

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THIS NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT proposal at 324 Wharton Street, former St. Casimir School, has local residents angry because of size and scope of development. Building, if approved by City next Wednesday, would stand at 76 feet tall and tower over neighboring row homes. Over 100 residents have signed a petition (left) against proposal.

BY RORY G. McGLASSON/ Residents in Pennsport are angry over a proposed residential complex at St. Casimir’s School.

Over 100 people have signed a petition to stop a local developer turning the old St. Casimir’s School into a 76-foot-high, 25-unit housing complex with four open slots for street parking.

Block Captain Andrea Russell of the 300 block of Earp Street is leading the fight against the proposal because after several letters to local City and State elected officials, she and her residents feel like they are being “left in the dark” over the proposal.

Russell says the residents signed her petition against the proposal because the 25 units will have a detrimental impact on homeowners’ property taxes, water and sewer usage and trash.

“It is not that we do not want new development in the area,” she said. “It’s just the building and the surrounding area is too narrow; there is not enough parking and street access right now, never mind adding 25 new homes. It’s a ridiculous proposal. Can you imagine any kind of deliveries on these streets? It will be bedlam.”

The proposed residential complex sits at St. Casimir’s School. The site is owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The proposed plan is to build a site that would sit twice as high as the row homes on Earp, Orianna and Sears Streets, and rise above the 300 block of Wharton Street.

The developer, Cosimo Tricarico, is the owner of the four-story, 50-foot-high Caffé Valentino Restaurant at 3rd & Wharton Streets.  Tricarico never returned calls before press time.

The Dept. of Licenses & Inspections rejected plans submitted by the Landmark Architectural Design on behalf of Tricarico, on May, 23, 2011. Tricarico appealed the decision, and L&I will listen to any new proposal on Wednesday, Jun. 22 at 2 p.m.  at 1515 Arch Street. The meeting is open to the public.

The address of the development is listed as 324 Wharton Street. It would include 25-unit family dwelling with open balconies. Despite zoning notices posted on the building on Earp, Sears and Orianna Streets, not one zoning hearing posting was posted at 324 Wharton Street – St. Casimir’s Convent. A notice, according to L&I, has to be placed not later than 12 days before a zoning hearing.

Suzanne Haney, who is the GOP ward leader in the 2nd Ward, lives on the 300 block of Manton Street. She said she is curious as to why residents on the 300 block of Wharton Street “do not know about the proposal.”

Haney believes the local civic group, the Pennsport Civic Association, should be more transparent about any details they might know about the proposal.

“The civic association should have a meeting with residents to discuss the issue with the developer, it all seems rather secretive to me,” Haney said.

Dr. James Moylan, who was recently installed as Pennsport Civic Association President, did not return calls before press time.

For residents such as Steve Cohen, the size and scope of the development makes it the wrong “fit” in the area.

“If they build a 76-feet high building opposite my home, will I ever see the sky again?” asks Cohen, who lives at 324 Earp Street opposite the old school, and adjacent to the proposed high-rises balcony terraces proposed by the developer.

Anyone wishing to attend the zoning meeting next can visit 1515 Arch Street, on Wednesday Jun. 22 at 2 p.m. For more information, please call Block Captain Andrea Russell at (215) 468-3611.

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One Response to PENNSPORT IN CRISIS: Neighbors Angry At Developer’s Plan For St. Casimir’s

  1. Pingback: Changes could be coming to St. Casimir’s Lithuanian Church buildings | Passyunk Post