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Zoning board approves St. Laurentius Church apartment plans

There will be 23 apartments

The front of a stone church with red doors.
The zoning appeal was granted to convert the St. Laurentius Church into apartments.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

After delaying a decision for two weeks, the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) voted yesterday to grant an appeal to convert the historic St. Laurentius Church in Fishtown into apartments.

The approval allows Leo Voloshin, owner of PrintFresh studio, to move forward with plans to construct 23 residential units in the city’s first Polish church while preserving the exterior. Voloshin bought the property from the Archdiocese in February and announced plans for the conversion shortly after.

Because the 130-year-old property was not zoned for multi-family housing units, it was required to seek variance approval from the city.

Before Voloshin purchased the property, residents successfully rallied to save the historic church from demolition. Yet the apartment conversion has still left neighbors at odds, with some concerned with the number of residential units and what the project might mean for parking in the neighborhood. The plan calls for 23 bike spaces and no parking.

A sample section of unit 21 in the St. Laurentius.

Voloshin told Fishtown residents at a reportedly heated September zoning meeting that all of the apartments will be one bedrooms, to ensure that only one or two people live in each unit.

The future of the church ultimately lay in the hands of the ZBA. At the initial November 1 hearing, the ZBA held off making a decision for two weeks after hearing dozens of neighbors testify against the appeal.

The zoning approval on November 15 gives the project the green light to move forward. A call to Voloshin was not returned at the time of publication, but we will update when we know more about the construction timeline.

St. Laurentius Church

1612 E Berks St, Philadelphia, PA 19125