The Philadelphia Planning Commission approved today a variance for residential to be granted for a 46-unit development in Point Breeze at the first meeting of the year. The move was met with great resistance from local residents in attendance, who walked out of the room post-vote, not without calling the commission and developers racist and accusing them of preferential treatment. The proposed massive development located at 2012-2020 Wharton Street has undergone numerous battles between concerned Point Breeze residents and the developers and architects, JKR Partners, since the initial project was proposed in 2013.
Currently, the site is 0.88-acre site is vacant—a building was recently demolished—and zoned for ICMX, or industrial commercial mixed use. With the commission's approval, the project can now move forward to construct two detached buildings that will each have 23 residential units. Each three-story unit will come with a roof deck, individual bike racks, and parking (previous renditions of the development did not include parking). The site is surrounded by both residential areas and a commercial corridor.
At the meeting, Tiffany Green of the Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze reiterated to the commission that the neighborhood had voted against the housing project at a recent community meeting. Their main concern: They want a business development that will create jobs, such as a grocery store, and not a residential community that will increase housing and rental prices in the up-and-coming neighborhood.
Although the commissioners first sought to shelve the vote until the developers and community could meet again, lead architect Jose J. Hernandez commented that while they'd be happy to continue discussions, it wasn't likely that a compromise could be reached. After the commission voted to approve the zoning variance, a group of residents stood up with protest signs and shouted to the commission to explain themselves before walking out.
The 2012-20 Wharton Street development will now go toward the Zoning Board for voting on February 24.