by Jennifer Katz

Bowman Properties proposal to build a mixed-use development, anchored by national grocer Fresh Market at the former Magarity site at 8200 Germantown Ave., is moving quickly through both the Chestnut Hill Community Association process and the City Council process and could be complete by the end of the year.

The CHCA subcommittee, chaired by Joyce Lenhardt, is working with Richard Snowden, managing partner of Bowman, and his development team to address the committee’s major concerns with the current proposal.

In last week’s Local it was reported that at the Land Use Planning and Zoning committee meeting on Nov. 3, Lenhardt said Bowman had made significant changes to its proposal. Lenhardt said what she actually reported was that Bowman had told the committee they had made significant changes.
In fact, Lenhardt said when the committee met with Bowman on Wednesday, Nov. 9, the changes were far from significant, except for the addition of a sixth floor to the building along the Avenue.

“Adding a sixth floor is significant but in the wrong direction,” she said.
The subcommittee remains concerned about the overall mass of the building along the Avenue, the number of townhomes along Shawnee Street and creating  “green” buffers around the parameter of the site.

The latest proposal has eight, not nine townhomes, situated in clusters of four with an alley between the two sets. Bowman also removed 10 parking spaces from the lot to make room for trees.

Unfortunately the loss of the parking spaces presents another problem to the committee.

“That is 10 more cars that will be pushed into the neighborhood,” Lenhardt said.

To alleviate some of that overspill, Bowman plans to rent 40 spaces from the Parking Foundation to be reserved for employees of Fresh Market. Twenty of the spaces would be in a fixed location and 20 would be “floating” throughout the other lots.

Lenhardt questions the viability of that plan.

“Why would employees park (in the other lots) instead of right on Shawnee?” she said.

Other neighbors who have been vocal in their opposition to Bowman’s proposal started a petition drive at the beginning of the month, creating an online petition and also a paper petition that was available on election day at polling places throughout Northwest Philadelphia.

Terry Halbert, a near neighbor of the project and one of the petition’s organizers, said the petition, which has hundreds of signatures, although many of the signators do not live close to the development or even in Chestnut Hill, was ignited “the railroading of legislation, which conflicts with the negotiation.”

With the legislation to change the zoning of the site to a combination of R5, C2 and R10b and to amend the Germantown Avenue Special District Controls as well as change the direction of Hartwell Lane  Bowman and the community association have agreed upon a schedule to allow the proposal to go through the CHCA committees and to the board before city council votes on the legislation.

Bowman will be at the Dec. 1 LUPZ meeting and then at a special DRC meeting on Dec. 7 and finally at a special board meeting on Dec. 14. The zoning legislation will have its first reading before city council on Dec. 8 and could be voted on at council’s Dec. 15 session.

The planning commission, which will make a recommendation to council, was set to discuss Bowman’s zoning change, at a meeting on Tuesday.

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