PlanPhilly

Neighbors, developer discuss $5M Germantown Avenue project at community meeting

A vacant warehouse in Germantown will soon be home to a cluster of apartment dwellers, a non-profit-led residential program and a café.

At a Monday night community meeting not far from the brick building, local developer Ken Weinstein said the $5 million rehab project should be completed by summer's end.

The development, one of a handful that Weinstein currently has in the works in the neighborhood, has raised some eyebrows since it was first floated to residents in the Penn-Knox section, where the property sits.

Nature of the development

Inside iMPeRFeCT Gallery on Monday, locals echoed concerns about the property's residential program, the nature of which Weinstein could not legally disclose, but which neighbors revealed. (NewsWorks is withholding the nature of the program).

The program does "not include drug and alcohol counseling, nor services to ex-offenders, mentally ill patients or juvenile delinquents," according a statement Weinstein read during the meeting.

At times frustrated with the line of questioning, Weinstein assured residents that the program would be run by a well-regarded organization and would hardly be noticed by neighbors.

He said there wouldn't be any "co-mingling" between program participants and the tenants renting out the building's 11 one- and two-bedroom apartments. There will be separate entrances and exits for both populations.

Moving forward

Weinstein, however, said he plans on setting up some kind of system for fielding and responding to resident complaints should they arise.

"This can't be a wall between the community and the tenant," said Weinstein.

Others asked about traffic and whether there was a need for more apartments in the neighborhood.

Weinstein, for his part, said apartment units like this, if filled quickly, might encourage other developers to make similar investments in Germantown.

"Everyone is watching," he said.

More than a couple residents agreed.

Renny Molenaar, who co-owns Imperfect, said the neighborhood needs more affordable apartments if it wants to attract artists, often seen as catalysts for positive neighborhood change.

"We need these stepping stones," said Molenaar.

Program staffers and apartment tenants will have access to a 19-spot parking lot across the street from the property.

Weinstein is still searching for a tenant to fill the café space, but expect to have the apartments and the residential program filled when the building re-opens.




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