Three long-running neighborhood fixtures, all on Belgrade Street in Port Richmond, will soon see new owners and new uses.
“The times are changing,” said Larry Truszkowski, co-owner of Cathy’s Crossing, and a former member of the Pilsudski Fraternal Association, a Polish social club at Belgrade and Ontario streets in Port Richmond.
The Pilsudski Association, which opened in the 1950s, has been closed for about a year and may soon be converted into apartments.
“I’m sad the club is closed, because the old guys worked so hard to keep it running,” Truskowski said. “But the overhead was too much for it to survive.”
Angel Mendez of The Mendez Corporation is currently negotiating the purchase of the Association’s old building. If all goes well, he will buy the building in August for a residential development, he said.
“We’re looking to keep that building as close as possible to what it is,” Mendez said.
Mendez said he plans to fill the building with one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments designed for professionals and small families – not a bar or nightclub, as was the belief of some in the neighborhood.
“Nobody’s going to open up a club or a bar there. I’m not in that business,” Mendez said.
The land surrounding the property will be used for surface parking, and may in the future be used for building new houses, Mendez said.
“There were a lot of rumors going around about that building. I’m glad to hear it’s going to be something positive,” said Theresa Marie Costello, president of the Port Richmond Commnity Group, of the Pilsudski Association building. “But it’s sad because the older people always went there and I know they miss it. There’s not really a place like that for them all to go to anymore.”
Meanwhile, a few blocks down Belgrade Street at Allegheny Avenue, the former law offices of the late Jack E. Matty may soon be converted into a family-owned corner drug store and pharmacy.
The Tiang family is in talks to purchase the property from the Matty family, pending the necessary zoning approvals that will allow the Tiangs to set up their business at 2534 Belgrade St., according to the Tiang’s attorney, Glenn Hing.
“They like this building, they like this location, and they think they can have a good business that would be an asset to a community,” Hing said.
Hing said he is working closely with community groups to address neighbors’ concerns about a new pharmacy on Allegheny Avenue.
Neighbors at a Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic meeting gave “overwhelming support” for the pharmacy, Hing said, but reactions were more mixed at a second meeting with neighbors, organized by City Councilman Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.) and hosted at U.S. Congressman Bob Brady’s Port Richmond office.
“That meeting did not go well,” Hing acknowledged. “There were some concerns some neighbors raised about the use of the pharmacy. … I think there may be some misinformation circulating, but that’s just part of the process.”
“My client wants to do it, my client is going to do this, [and] they are going to open up a pharmacy,” Hing continued.
Costello said that neighbors might fear a new pharmacy could create competition for other family-owned pharmacies in the neighborhood.
“People may worry that they’re going to push out the people we know. Why would you want to come here? There’s a pharmacy a block away. That’s probably what people are worried about,” Costello said.
A Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing scheduled for July 10 regarding needed variances for the Tiang’s pharmacy was postponed and will be rescheduled at some point in the future, Hing said.
Further south, at 3128 Belgrade St., Port Richmond’s beloved Tony’s Pizza is up for sale, it was revealed last week. Tony’s Pizza has been voted by Star readers has having the ldquo;Best Cheesesteak” in Star‘s annual “Best of the River Wards” readers’ choice contest.
Real estate agent Ryan Straub posted a listing for Tony’s Pizza on thestraubgroup.com with a price tag of $350,000.
Mario Ditri, who along with brothers John and Sal has been proudly making their signature hoagies and pizzas for 30 years, declined to comment to Star about the business being put up for sale.
Straub confirmed via email that Tony’s Pizza is up for sale. His listing indicates that the Ditri brothers are looking to pass on the torch to a buyer who is interested in continuing the business and churning out the trademark hoagies, strombolis and pizza pies that made Tony’s famous.
“Included in the sale [are] the building, all equipment and the business name. The owners are willing to stay for a short period of time to train and help get things situated,” Straub’s listing states.
All in all, while Port Richmond may change, some things will always stay the same.
“Slowly but surely, there are some really nice businesses opening up in Port Richmond,” Costello said, mentioning the Sweets & Treats candy store and the Hinge Café as examples. ldquo;If development follows along those lines, that’s a good sign.”