Fishtown: ‘More parking, more misery’

Core Re­alty pres­id­ent and Canal Street North pro­ject de­veloper Mi­chael Sam­schick ad­dresses neigh­bors at an FNA meet­ing Dec. 18, where two pro­pos­als for sur­face park­ing were voted down. STAR PHOTO / SAM NE­W­HOUSE

When it comes to the Canal Street North pro­ject, the de­veloper and neigh­bors alike are still search­ing for solu­tions to ever-present park­ing con­cerns.

Core Re­alty brought pro­pos­als for two sur­face park­ing lots to the Fishtown Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation last month, and en­countered near un­an­im­ous op­pos­i­tion.

The lots would sup­port Core’s pro­posed Canal Street North pro­ject, an en­ter­tain­ment com­plex that would in­clude a res­taur­ant, mu­sic ven­ue, bowl­ing al­ley and re­tail spaces.

“I think we need to look at oth­er op­tions,” de­veloper Mi­chael Sam­schick, pres­id­ent of Core Re­alty, told Star after the FNA voted against two pro­pos­als for sur­face park­ing in the neigh­bor­hood.

Core Re­alty was act­ing on the City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s re­quire­ment that 500 park­ing spaces be ac­coun­ted for in plans for the Canal Street North pro­ject.

Neigh­bors in at­tend­ance at the zon­ing meet­ing on Tues­day, Dec. 18, at the Fishtown Re­cre­ation Cen­ter bristled at the sug­ges­tion of set­ting up sur­face park­ing lots for con­cer­t­go­ers which are blocks away from the pro­posed pro­ject — and deep­er in­to res­id­en­tial areas.

“More park­ing, more misery!” one neigh­bor said loudly dur­ing the Core Re­alty present­a­tion, as an­oth­er grumbled, “We’ve got to suf­fer for this com­pany to make more money. Why should we?”

The Canal Street North pro­ject would be built at the bor­der of Fishtown and North­ern Liber­ties un­der I-95 at Delaware and Frank­ford av­en­ues, in­side the former Ajax Met­al Works and Dry Ice build­ings.

“I like the build­ing, but the traffic will be crazy,” Eric Aponte, a Fishtown res­id­ent, said of the pro­ject.

Park­ing and in­creased traffic has been a primary con­cern from the be­gin­ning for this de­vel­op­ment.

There are already about 337 sur­face park­ing spaces in­cluded in the pro­ject’s design. Core Re­alty is ne­go­ti­at­ing with the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Trans­port­a­tion (PennDOT) to lease 100 more spaces in an ad­ja­cent lot.

Earli­er in Decem­ber, the City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion ap­proved the Canal Street North pro­ject, with the con­di­tion that Core Re­alty “demon­strate that it has full con­trol of at least 500 park­ing spaces in the area, while seek­ing ways to provide those spaces without de­mol­ish­ing ex­ist­ing build­ings.”

“We’re try­ing to reach the goals of the city and the neigh­bor­hood,” ex­plained Dav­id Fish­er, seni­or vice pres­id­ent of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Core Man­age­ment Ser­vices. “We’re just try­ing to find solu­tions we can all live with.”

One pro­pos­al was for a 15- to 46-space lot at 248-56 Rich­mond Ave. and 950-58 Marl­bor­ough St. Neigh­bors com­plained that the loc­a­tion was res­id­en­tial and across the street from a church. That lot was voted down 44 - 1.

The oth­er pro­pos­al was for a 69-space lot at 1106-28 N. Delaware Ave., which is cur­rently a va­cant lot owned by Core Re­alty. That was voted down 32 - 12.

“You put little park­ing lots here, there, over there, it’s just a night­mare!” said Dar­ren Bor­man, a res­id­ent of Rich­mond Av­en­ue in Fishtown, sum­mar­iz­ing most meet­ing at­tendees’ views on the pro­pos­al.

“No one’s go­ing to pay for park­ing. No one’s go­ing to pay 50 cents. They could find park­ing else­where,” Bor­man ad­ded, point­ing out that these lots are loc­ated in neigh­bor­hoods where most street park­ing is free.

Sam­schick agreed with most of the com­plaints neigh­bors voiced at the meet­ing.

“We’re not en­tirely in dis­agree­ment with you,” Sam­schick told neigh­bors. “I didn’t want ad­di­tion­al park­ing. We thought we were good. We thought un­der 95 was suf­fi­cient for what we were do­ing.”

One neigh­bor even spoke up dur­ing the meet­ing to of­fer to lease his land, a lot on Laurel Street un­der I-95, to re­solve the park­ing di­lemma.

A third pro­pos­al for a 80- to 268-space park­ing lot at 29-45 Pop­lar St. and 916-90 Delaware Ave. is cur­rently in­cluded in Core Re­alty’s designs.

While the North­ern Liber­ties Neigh­bor­hood As­so­ci­ation’s (NLNA) Zon­ing Com­mit­tee met on Monday, Dec. 17, to dis­cuss the Canal Street North pro­ject, they did not hold a vote on that pro­pos­al.

“We sug­ges­ted build­ing a park­ing gar­age in­stead of hav­ing these lots all over the place,” said NLNA Zon­ing Com­mit­tee Chair Larry Freed­man.

Oth­er com­munity con­cerns were how 3,000 people trav­el­ing to and from the con­cert ven­ue on peak event nights can be safely ac­com­mod­ated, and in­sti­tut­ing a sol­id “sound mit­ig­a­tion plan” to con­trol noise pol­lu­tion, Freed­man said.

Oth­er re­quire­ments im­posed by the City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion upon the pro­ject’s ap­prov­al are: Core Re­alty must pro­duce let­ters of sup­port from the FNA and NLNA; close parts of Canal and Al­len Streets where con­cer­t­go­ers may stand out­side or widen the side­walks to 15 feet; meet with the Streets De­part­ment to go over the traffic and load­ing plans, and con­firm that all sig­nage at the site is re­lated to the uses at the site.

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­

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