EKNA meeting voters support Frankford Ave. gastropub

Ru­mors had spread that the pro­posed “Dev­il’s Work­shop” would be a Frank­ford Av­en­ue strip club, but it will simply be an eat­ery with live acous­tic mu­sic.

At a re­cent meet­ing of the East Kens­ing­ton Neigh­bor­hood As­so­ci­ation’s zon­ing com­mit­tee, at­tendees dis­cussed three pro­posed de­vel­op­ment pro­jects, but by far the most con­tro­ver­sial was a pro­pos­al for a “gast­rop­ub” at 2519 Frank­ford Ave. 

While by the end of the even­ing the pro­pos­al was ap­proved by a vote of 40 to 15, the dis­cus­sion wasn’t without its ar­gu­ments.

At­tor­ney Le­onard Re­u­ter pitched the idea of the bar and eat­ery — tent­at­ively named “Dev­il’s Work­shop” — at the meet­ing Wed­nes­day, Aug. 8, at Circle of Hope church, 2009 Frank­ford Ave. Re­u­ter said that the es­tab­lish­ment would be sim­il­ar to Mem­ph­is Tap­room at 2331 E. Cum­ber­land St.

Re­u­ter denied ru­mors about the pro­posed pro­ject.

“The own­ers are not in­tend­ing to open a strip club,” he said.

Ru­mors had star­ted, he said, after “live en­ter­tain­ment and dan­cing” were lis­ted in the pro­ject’s de­scrip­tion.

These de­tails, he said, were in­ten­ded to de­scribe that the busi­ness would have space avail­able for dan­cing to live acous­tic mu­sic on week­ends.

Along with bring­ing a busi­ness to Frank­ford Av­en­ue, Re­u­ter said the build­ing would have out­door light­ing and sur­veil­lance cam­er­as to help make the area safer.

As pro­posed, the bar would fea­ture a seat­ing area with 16 tables and enough space for about 134 pat­rons. In the pro­posed three-floor struc­ture, the bar and eat­ery would be loc­ated on the first floor, the second floor would hold the kit­chen and the third floor would be used as a res­id­en­tial apart­ment for one of the share­hold­ers, Dav­id Zepp.

Zepp’s in­volve­ment was a point of con­ten­tion among at­tendees, with some cit­ing his his­tory of prop­erty man­age­ment in the com­munity.

Sweet­water Group, Inc., a newly in­cor­por­ated com­pany, would own Dev­il’s Work­shop. The share­hold­ers of that com­pany are Zepp and Debra Mc­Manus.

As de­tailed on loc­al act­iv­ist Chris Saw­yer’s blog, www.phil­ade­lin­quency.com, the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue is cur­rently seek­ing over $16,000 in tax li­ens from Zepp.

In fact, a check of the Frank­ford Av­en­ue prop­erty’s cur­rent tax status shows that Sweet­water Group, Inc. owes nearly $5,000 in city prop­erty taxes.

Re­u­ter said that Sweet­water Group, Inc. pur­chased the prop­erty in Oc­to­ber last year and those taxes ac­crued un­der the pre­vi­ous own­er. Also, Re­u­ter told the meet­ing that Sweet­water Group, Inc. was cur­rently work­ing with the city to pay that tax bill.

EKNA zon­ing chair Andy Bar­rera poin­ted out that the vote that even­ing was to be on wheth­er the com­munity felt the zon­ing of the site — it’s cur­rently zoned res­id­en­tial — should be changed to per­mit a res­taur­ant.

“This isn’t a pro­ject re­view,” said Bar­rera. “We’re just here to get the com­munity’s opin­ion on if we want a bar and res­taur­ant in that loc­a­tion.”

While the present­a­tion may have star­ted tu­mul­tu­ous, at the end, many in at­tend­ance ap­plauded the plan for a gast­rop­ub on Frank­ford Av­en­ue.

Also up for dis­cus­sion at the meet­ing was a pro­pos­al for two single-fam­ily homes at 2068 and 2070 York Street.

The build­ings would be con­struc­ted by the sus­tain­ab­il­ity-fo­cused com­pany Post­Green LLC, and would be three-story struc­tures, each with two bed­rooms.

The com­munity ap­proved the pro­ject in a vote of 35 to sev­en.

At­tendees also voted on a pro­pos­al for a mul­ti­fam­ily home at 2133 Cum­ber­land St.

Own­er Mark Zwick presen­ted a plan that would fit three apart­ments in­to a three-story house. Loc­als ex­pressed con­cern over the cramped and crowded design of the pro­ject, and said that renters would flood the streets with their cars. Res­id­ents voted down the pro­pos­al by 40 to eight.

Staff Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at hmit­man@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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