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Community Dissent Over Proposed Apple Lofts on 52nd St.

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Here are the basics: Iron Stone Management wants to take the vacant Apple Storage facility at 708 S. 52nd St. and convert it from an industrial space into a residential one, with plans to build 100-plus apartments and a retail center in the bottom of the building. As with all such neighborhood plans, there are factions who are for it and factions against, and the locus of the tensions lies in the groups that claim neighborhood ownership, of a kind, via community groups.

The groups in this neighborhood battle are the Cedar Park Neighbors (CPN), the Baltimore Avenue Business Association (BABA) and the Community Achievement Association (CAA).

As it stands now, CPN and BABA (volunteer organizations) are in favor of the project; CAA (which is paid by the city) is not. The University City Review has covered the arguments in a series of two articles, the second of which came out this week.

As of last description, the property would include 112 "loft-style" apartments with prices ranging from $700 to $1,400, no subsidized housing included. The plan calls for hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and exposed brick walls. An initial objection by the Zoning Board was the lack of sufficient parking, but Ironstone returned to the table with additional parking spaces (as well as bike storage).

Meanwhile, one of the concerns from CAA has been the issue of the 10-year tax abatement that would be attached to the this project. A local West Philadelphia real estate broker has offered an explanation of tax abatement on a neighborhood listserve today, hoping the information could be passed along to CAA. Here's that broker's explanation:

1. Single family property owners who build or improve properties ARE eligible for the City of Philadelphia tax abatement program (provided that they follow the rules & timelines). To read more about this on the Phila.gov website, start here. (Home buyers will benefit from the abatement if they buy a just-renovated property where the seller applied for the abatement.) 2. Properties with tax abatements do not pay zero taxes. They continue to pay the same taxes they were already paying. The abatement is only on tax INCREASES on the property during the period for which taxes are abated. In other words, if a property owner fixes up a run-down place and applies for the tax abatement, the city won't "penalize" him/her for their project by immediately charging them higher taxes.

It doesn't mean that the city won't charge ANY taxes. The city will still charge the CURRENT taxes.

The next community meeting to discuss the project is on Feb. 15. If you have any stake in this community, you might want to attend. Here's the info:

When: Wed., Feb. 15, 7pm
Where: A.M.E. Church, 815 S. 53rd St.