If he builds it, they may not come
Let me be clear, I have no problem with the development proposed at 8200 Germantown Ave. I have a concern with the developer, and so should you.
Let me be clearer, I have no personal issues with Mr. Snowden. My last business with him (sale of the community association’s building) was quite satisfactory and profitable for the association. To be crystal clear, I have reasonable concerns regarding his ability to get it built and leased.
Mr. Snowden, as with any developer, wants to push the limits of allowable space and often requires bending or changing the zoning. That is part of the game and often required to create a financially viable project. This developer however appears immune to the traditional need to have a track record of actually leasing the spaces he develops.
Chestnut Hill needs an influx of new retail opportunities. It has no need of additional vacancies. Mr. Snowden has often stated he is waiting for the right tenants; we who live here and try to shop here want options, not necessarily perfection. Mr. Snowden apparently wants antique and tea shops, I’d rather see jeans and T-shirts, but I’ll take whatever over nothing.
I fear the committees will be focused on architectural scale and near neighbors’ concern. Those concerns are impossible to satisfy based upon recent applications.
The committees should avoid their normal approach of scale, massing and aesthetics. Been there, did that. We don’t have a five story building in Chestnut Hill now, but we should worry if it will ever be occupied rather than if it should be built. “If you build it, they will come.” Mr. Snowden does build it, often delayed, but where are the tenants?
I suggest the CHCA say, “Lease what you have, before you ask for more”.
Or “Show me the money (leases).”
Fresh Market will not help the Hill
I remember reading a while ago that Chestnut Hill had hired a planner whose vision seemed to be to turn Chestnut Hill into a high-priced strip mall. I was appalled at the time, but never got around to writing a letter.
Never mind that larger chain stores ate away at Chestnut Hill’s charm and deserted the area as soon as the going got rough. Rather than support smaller, unique shopping opportunities such as Weaver Way Co-op, the Farmers Markets, Top of the Hill Market, the Cheese Shop, etc, and the unique diverse facades that make walking around Chestnut Hill so much fun, the CHCA now seems to think that a fancy chain grocery store and new town houses are just what we need. Such a store will needlessly compete with smaller food businesses, but it is unlikely to bring new customers into Chestnut Hill.
For most families, a trip to the supermarket is a single destination affair; you want to get home before the kids or the ice cream melt down, the vegetables wilt, or you crash from a long day at the office.
Yes, The Fresh Market will benefit another larger corporation, but it sure won’t benefit Chestnut Hill as a community – a destination with historical architecture, stores that are slightly unusual and the smaller business that have shown a commitment to out community. What a shame.
Very funny article about sad situation
I read with fascination Sabina Clarke’s piece on Morris Wolff’s continuing fight on behalf of a hero, Raoul Wallenberg. In this age of few heroes, these two names exemplify what that means. I would venture to say that most Americans never heard of Raoul Wallenberg, a man of great courage and compassion who ultimately gave his life to save close to 100,000 Jews.
And that’s a sad thought. It would be wonderful if our State Department could resolve this issue of whether or not Mr. Wallenberg is still alive and if a memorial to him could be established in a prominent place. I will pray.
What a wonderful community we live in
While gathering up toys at yard sales in anticipation of my grandaughters’ visit, I bought a teddy bear with lots of clothes – one for every season. The purple hat for Easter was missing. The lady holding the yard sale took my address and promised to deliver it, if she found it. There it was on my doorstep, today!
Only in Chestnut Hill! Thank you again, dear neighbor.