Fishtown apartments and gym await zoning decision
Developer Roland Kassis, who proposed to convert a former hosiery factory in Fishtown into an apartment building with an attached City Fitness gym, appeared before the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) last week, PlanPhilly.com reported.
Kassis’s project has been criticized by neighbors for lacking sufficient parking and potentially contributing to neighborhood congestion.
At a meeting held by the Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA) Zoning Committee in June, residents supported variances for this proposal and another proposal by Kassis presented at the same meeting, for 30 apartments in the former REACH baseball glove factory at 1701 Tulip St. in Fishtown.
The total community vote was 107 to 77 in favor, but the local vote, of residents living within 500 feet of the developments, was opposed to granting the variances, 48 to 32.
After that meeting, Kassis said he would try to resolve the parking issues – and apparently modified his Columbia Avenue proposal to add five parking spaces, up from the 25 originally proposed at the FNA meeting to 30 parking spaces offered in the proposal before the ZBA.
The project requires variances including for combining eight parcels into one and for using the site for the mixed residential and commercial uses which the apartments and gym would represent.
The ZBA’s decision is pending. ••
Kensington thief wanted
The Philadelphia Police Department has released surveillance footage on PhillyPolice.com of a convenience store burglary that took place last Thursday when the robber entered the store through the roof.
The burglary took place around 4 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5 at Sunny Side Store in Kensington, located at the intersection of Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street.
The suspect, a 30 to 40-year-old black male, can be seen in surveillance footage posted on PhillyPolice.com dropping into the store through the tiles in the store’s ceiling and jumping onto a top shelf filled with merchandise. After jumping to the floor, the suspect ran past the security camera with his face covered.
The suspect took an unspecified amount of merchandise and fled, caught on surveillance cameras climbing back upwards through the hole in the ceiling that he created.
The suspect is described as having a beard and wearing a blue Polo-style shirt, blue jean-shorts and black and white sneakers.
Police are asking that the public not confront this suspect but call 911 if he is spotted.
Or, to submit a tip to the Philadelphia Police Department, call 215-686-TIPS (8477) or text PPDTIP (773847). ••
Famed NoLibs bar for sale
Finnigan’s Wake, the Irish pub at Spring Garden and North 3rd streets in Northern Liberties, was recently listed for sale with an asking price of $5 million, reported Philebrity.com.
The bar’s real estate listing, posted by Prudential Fox & Roach, calls the well known and visually striking bar “an iconic piece of Philadelphia history.”
The 19,140-square foot, three-story bar and restaurant, which has a listed address of 537-41 N. 3rd St. and is zoned commercial, will be sold with all its contents – including kitchen and bar equipment.
Finnigan’s Wake is known for its colorful street appearance, with a mock-storefront design that looks like six different businesses on a street in old-time Dublin, and a huge mural above, facing the street.
The current owners were able to secure two bills in the Philadelphia City Council related to the pub, one which would allow an adjacent vacant parcel on Bodine Street to be converted into outdoor seating for the pub, and another which would allowed a balcony to be built facing Spring Garden Street, according to the real estate listing.
City looking for its next poet laureate
The city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is looking for Philadelphia’s next Poet Laureate, a position established in January 2012 to give one talented poet the opportunity to publicly represent the city in the medium of poetry. Sonia Sanchez, Philadelphia’s inaugural Poet Laureate, will complete her two-year term at the end of 2013.
The application process is administered by OACCE. Applications must be submitted online to OACCE at http://creativephl.org/PoetLaureate by 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30. The Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term starting in January 2014.
Submissions will be reviewed confidentially by the Poet Laureate Governing Committee, which will then make its recommendation to the Mayor. Guidelines and the application are available online at http://creativePHL.org. All applications must be submitted online to be accepted. ••
PGW rates dip
Natural gas rates will decrease slightly for Philadelphia Gas Work’s residential, commercial, industrial and municipal customers, the city-owned utility recently announced.
The new rate reflects what PGW pays for the gas. The rate for residential customers, for instance, will be adjusted for the next three months from its current $1.49 per hundred cubic feet to $1.41 per hundred cubic feet for residential customers.
With this rate decrease, the cost for an average PGW residential customer equals the same period last year. On an annualized basis, the average residential customer using 850 Ccf, will lower their PGW bill by approximately 4.7 percent per month and equates to savings of $68 per year.
PGW reviews its gas rate quarterly and determines, based on market conditions, whether it should change. The new rate began Sept. 1 and will stay in effect through Nov. 30. ••
IRS warns taxpayers of top scams
Tax scams can happen anytime of the year, not just during tax season. Three common year-round scams are identity theft, phishing and return preparer fraud.
These schemes are on the top of the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” list of scams this year. They’re illegal and can lead to significant penalties and interest, even criminal prosecution.
Here’s more information about these scams that every taxpayer should know:
– Tax fraud by identity theft tops this year’s Dirty Dozen list. Identity thieves use personal information, such as your name, Social Security number or other identifying information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
An identity thief may also use another person’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund.
– The IRS has a special identity protection page on IRS.gov dedicated to identity theft issues.
It has helpful links to information, such as how victims can contact the IRS Identity Theft Protection Specialized Unit, and how you can protect yourself against identity theft.
– Most tax professionals file honest and accurate returns for their clients. However, some dishonest tax return preparers skim a portion of the client’s refund or charge inflated fees for tax preparation. Some try to attract new clients by promising refunds that are too good to be true.
Choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare your return. All paid tax preparers must sign the return they prepare and enter their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number.
The IRS created a webpage to assist taxpayers when choosing a tax preparer. It includes red flags to look for and information on how and when to make a complaint. Visit www.irs.gov/chooseataxpro.
For the full list of 2013 Dirty Dozen tax scams, or to find out how to report suspected tax fraud, visit IRS.gov. ••