Northeast Times

Grocery store shot down by zoning board

The once known T&T; Bar is now closed after Chris Spence’s murder caused an up­roar in the neig­hor­hood. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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Plans to put a gro­cery in­to a no­tori­ous Frank­ford prop­erty were re­jec­ted last month by the city’s Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment.

Zon­ers quickly shot down plans for the former T&T bar at 4691 Hawthorne St., said Pete Specos, pres­id­ent and zon­ing of­ficer of the Frank­ford Civic As­so­ci­ation. The tap­room had been the scene of a fatal shoot­ing in early 2011, but even be­fore that, the bar had ac­cu­mu­lated loc­al in­famy be­cause of noise, fights and com­plaints of un­der­age drink­ing.

A zon­ing vari­ance was needed be­cause a re­tail gro­cery is not a per­mit­ted use, Specos said. The prop­erty’s own­er is To­mas­ina Per­alta of Rhawn­hurst.

The of­fi­cial re­buff on Sept. 18 echoed sen­ti­ments ex­pressed in two com­munity meet­ings this sum­mer. On Sept. 6, civic as­so­ci­ation mem­bers turned down a re­quest for sup­port. Neigh­bors, who met with the own­er in Au­gust, also wouldn’t back the idea.

Most feared the gro­cery would be­come a hangout that would be­come as much a nuis­ance as the bar was, Specos said.

Chris­toph­er Spence, 20, was shot to death in the T&T bar on Feb. 19, 2011. A 19-year-old North Phil­adelphia man, Tyrese Ford, was charged in his death. Just days be­fore the shoot­ing, neigh­bors at­tend­ing a loc­al com­munity meet­ing had com­plained about the bar to po­lice.

Days after Spence’s murder, there were calls to per­man­ently shut­ter the bar dur­ing a mass meet­ing out­side the prop­erty.

When it re­opened a few weeks later un­der an­oth­er name, reg­u­lar protests began across the street. 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 bar’s op­er­at­or, was ar­res­ted and charged in the shoot­ing.

In mid-June, Arms­ted was found guilty of two counts of ag­grav­ated as­sault and two counts of reck­lessly en­dan­ger­ing an­oth­er per­son. He is in cus­tody at the Cur­ran-From­hold Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­ity on State Road. He faces up to 42 years in pris­on and $55,000 in fines when he is sen­tenced on Nov. 7 in Courtroom 1008 at the Crim­in­al Justice Cen­ter, 13th and Fil­bert streets.

Ford’s tri­al is sched­uled to be­gin Nov. 16 in Courtroom 1007. ••

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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