Developer Roland Kassis went in front of the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association (NLNA) recently to stump for his renovation of a large industrial building into 28 loft-style apartments near 4th and Girard Avenue. Apparently, you have little to no chance of getting the neighborhoods' approval if your plans don't include any parking — none, as in zero parking spots. It doesn't matter that the project will be marketed to Millennials and offer a 1:1 bike parking ratio, NLNA voted unanimously against the project. No parking? No dice. Parking issues usually make for an interesting time at neighborhood meetings, and it's safe to this one got lively alright. While we weren't in attendance, Sandy Smith at Philly Living was and he got quotes for days from both Kasis, the neighbors and NLNA Zoning Chair Larry Friedman. In all seriousness, with all the recent debate and statistics of declining automobile usage and rising rates of traveling via alternative means like biking or SEPTA, will we see more higher density projects that offer no car parking like this in the future?
Here are a few of the golden quotes from the meeting. It's almost certain that Smith didn't include all of the gems, either.
· Kassis, when asked by a neighbor if he could guarantee 90% Milennial/car-less rental rates:
"Can I lie to you and say yes?"
· NLNA's Larry Friedman on whether a demographic study was done on the potential renters: "Yes. They're all under 16 and they don't have driver's licenses."
The bottom line is that NLNA wants something to happen to the building, going so far as to suggest alternative uses for the site as an office or studio space. We know that the NLNA has traditionally focused on stemming issues surrounding parking and Kasis actually owns the adjoining lot next door, where neighbors suggested he put some parking for the Cambridge Lofts project. However, he purchased that lot before the loft project was a possibility and has already been approved to build five residences. And so, for now, the Cambridge Lofts project has indeed stalled over parking. We'll see if Kasis and the NLNA can get creative and make this vacant warehouse come back to life.
· NLNA Nixes Cambridge Loft Proposal [Philly Living]
· Parking Wars Coverage [Curbed Philly]