Northeast Times

Change in store for troubled Frankford bar

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A gro­cery store might oc­cupy a no­tori­ous Frank­ford prop­erty, mem­bers of the Frank­ford Civic As­so­ci­ation learned dur­ing their April 5 meet­ing.

Pete Specos, the as­so­ci­ation’s pres­id­ent and zon­ing of­ficer, said the neigh­bors of 4691 Hawthorne St. already have met with the people who want to op­er­ate a bo­dega, or His­pan­ic gro­cery. He said he hopes they’ll all meet again be­fore the civic group’s May meet­ing.

Specos said the three-story build­ing has apart­ments and had been a bar on the first floor. It had been the scene of a fatal shoot­ing.

Neigh­bors are re­quest­ing cam­er­as and out­side light­ing be­cause they fear the prop­erty, which is at the corner of Mar­garet Street, will be­come a hangout. A vari­ance is needed be­cause a re­tail gro­cery is not a per­mit­ted use, Specos said.

Chris­toph­er Spence, 20, was shot to death in what was then the T&T bar on Feb. 19, 2011. A 19-year-old North Phil­adelphia man, Tyrese Ford, was charged in his death. There was a push to close the bar, which already had a his­tory of fights, un­der­age drink­ing and noise.

Dur­ing a demon­stra­tion just days after Spence’s death, neigh­bors vowed the bar would nev­er re­open. When the busi­ness re­opened un­der a new name, Deuces Lounge, protests took place daily across the street.

Spence’s moth­er, Javese Phelps-Wash­ing­ton, said she re­garded the re-open­ing as a slap in the face. She said hun­dreds of neigh­bor­hood res­id­ents had signed a pe­ti­tion call­ing for the bar’s per­man­ent shut­down.

A month after Spence’s death, two men fired in­to a crowd of pro­test­ers, in­flict­ing minor wounds on two people. With­in 10 days, Shamus Arms­ted of West Phil­adelphia, the man who op­er­ated the bar, was ar­res­ted and charged in the shoot­ing.

The bar has nev­er re­opened, and Specos said last week that it can nev­er again be a bar.

Court re­cords show Ford will go on tri­al for murder Ju­ly 9. Arms­ted, also known as Tyreek John­son or Shame­less, is sched­uled to go on tri­al April 16.

In oth­er busi­ness:

The as­so­ci­ation’s vot­ing mem­bers last week quickly agreed to sup­port two zon­ing vari­ance re­quests.

Own­ers of a glass busi­ness want to move in­to a va­cant light-in­dus­tri­al build­ing at 5024 Mul­berry St. that once housed Stan­ley Elec­tric Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co. A vari­ance is needed be­cause the prop­erty is in an area that cur­rently is zoned res­id­en­tial.

“There is no hous­ing on that block,” Specos said, and mem­bers agreed to sup­port the vari­ance.

They also backed the Church of Love and Faith’s pro­pos­al to build a re­cre­ation room ad­di­tion on their prop­erty at 1680 Bridge St. Specos said the ad­di­tion would have no im­pact on neigh­bors or area park­ing, but a vari­ance was needed be­cause the prop­erty was be­ing changed. After a few ques­tions were answered, board mem­bers voted to sup­port the vari­ance re­quest.

Mem­bers voted not to sup­port a vari­ance needed to put of­fices and apart­ments in 2001 Bridge St. Specos said he also will ask the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes & In­spec­tions to check the prop­erty to make sure there are prop­er per­mits for the work be­ing done there.

He said he will make a sim­il­ar re­quest of L&I for 1543 Ru­an St., where there is a plan to put a car lot on the prop­erty. A vari­ance is needed for that, too, Specos said, be­cause the prop­erty is res­id­en­tially zoned. Board mem­bers re­fused to back the vari­ance re­quest.

Re­cords from the city’s De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue show more than $16,000 in back taxes, in­terest and pen­al­ties are owed on the prop­erty. A city or­din­ance that went in­to ef­fect in Janu­ary 2011 re­quires taxes to be up to date be­fore the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment may con­sider a vari­ance for a prop­erty.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s on­line re­cords, 1543-1547 Ru­an St. was pur­chased by Phos Hold­ings LLC of the 8100 block of Castor Ave. in 2005, and there are li­ens on the prop­erty for 2009, ’10 and ’11. This year’s taxes also have not been paid, ac­cord­ing to on­line re­cords.

Mem­bers voted to with­hold sup­port for a vari­ance that would leg­al­ize a car­port built at 5117 Tor­res­dale.

Last week’s meet­ing began on a very sad note when Specos an­nounced the loss of neigh­bor­hood busi­ness­man and board mem­ber Steve Mc­Clin­tock, 47, who died April 4.

Mc­Clin­tock had been a long­time mem­ber of the com­munity group and had been a board mem­ber for two years, Specos said.

“He was very in­volved in the neigh­bor­hood,” Specos said.

Mc­Clin­tock was the own­er of Tor­res­dale Used Auto Parts on the 1900 block of Church St., and also had owned a tow­ing com­pany, Specos said.

Mc­Clin­tock lived on the 3300 block of Oak­mont St. He grew up in Frank­ford and re­mained “very well-known in the com­munity,” Specos said in an in­ter­view.

Mc­Clin­tock is the third mem­ber of the as­so­ci­ation’s board to die since late 2010. Long­time board mem­ber Thelma Young died in Novem­ber of that year, and the group’s pres­id­ent, Frances Clay, died about a month later.

The civic as­so­ci­ation’s next meet­ing will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, in the second-floor con­fer­ence room of Aria Health’s Frank­ford cam­pus, 4900 Frank­ford Ave. ••

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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