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 firstname.lastname@example.org.