by Wesley Ratko
The Chestnut Hill Community Fund’s “sole physical asset,” the Town Hall Building at 8434 Germantown Ave., is doing well after remodeling, according to trustee Stanley Moat, who presented the real estate portion of the quarterly fund update to the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s board on Oct. 25.
Moat updated the committee on the $20,000 refit of the small retail space now occupied by Roots Inc., which is six months into a three-year lease and doing well.
The other storefront, once occupied by Fabrics on the Hill, has been empty for a year after the operators of that business stopped paying on their lease. Tim McNulty, a retailer operating out of Princeton, N.J., agreed to bring his business, Green Design, to the space provided the fund could renovate it within six weeks.
“The appearance inside was very 1950s,” Moat said.
McNulty agreed to a two-phase lease: a six-month trial, followed by a permanent five-year lease and moved in May 1. Complications in getting the retail space ready, coupled with lackluster business conditions on the Hill this summer led the CHCF to sign a repeat of that initial six-month lease, which will carry through to the end of April.
The remodeling of this space cost a little more than $60,000, more than 60 percent of which will be recouped by next April.
“If you’ve not seen these two stores in awhile, it really would be worthwhile to take a look inside,” said trustee Bill McGuckin. “The job that Stanley has done is absolutely fabulous.”
Fund treasurer Morris Disston, who presented CHCF investments, explained that the objective of fund investment is to balance growth and income while maintaining a small but adequate cash reserve.
“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude in getting the fund to where it is compared with where it was five years ago,” said CHCA board member Richard Snowden.
Last July, City Controller Alan Butkowitz spoke to the board about the proposed restructuring of Philadelphia property tax structure, known as the Actual Value Initiative or AVI. At the time, board president Brien Tilley described his appearance as an initial foray into educating the public about AVI and the steps the CHCA should take to respond to it.
That effort will continue, Tilley said at last week’s board meeting, with a panel discussion scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Confirmed panelists include Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Councilman-at-Large Bill Green, Councilman David Oh, Democratic candidate for city controller Brett Mandel, Ellen Mattleman Kaplan, policy director for the watchdog group Committee of Seventy, and Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkowitz.
Tilley asked for full board attendance, but noted that this was not a board meeting.
“I would ask you all to make a concerted effort to be there,” he said, adding that “November 14 is not a board meeting – we decided this topic deserves its own session.”