Somerton approves hotel expansion

A Somer­ton pub­lic house and hotel dat­ing to the Amer­ic­an re­volu­tion­ary era is in store for some ma­jor changes.

Now known as Bull Shoot­ers Sa­loon, the nightclub por­tion of the busi­ness will shrink by about 3,000 square feet, but the hotel will gain 11 new guest rooms.

Mem­bers of the Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation ap­proved the pro­posed renov­a­tions by a 17-7 vote on Jan. 14 dur­ing the group’s monthly meet­ing. The site is at 14000 Bustleton Ave. at the in­ter­sec­tion of Philmont Av­en­ue. The hotel will of­fer 41 guest rooms once the pro­ject is com­plete.

“I have a wait­ing list all the time,” said prop­erty own­er John Catag­nus, re­fer­ring to the cus­tom­er de­mand for rooms.

Catag­nus said he bought the site about 35 years ago. Nowadays, the hotel serves mostly overnight and weekly guests, many of whom are con­struc­tion con­tract­ors who work in the area tem­por­ar­ily, but live too far away to com­mute from their homes, ac­cord­ing to the own­er.

City prop­erty re­cords show that the three-story ma­sonry build­ing has 18,524 square feet of floor space. It sits on an ir­reg­u­larly shaped one-acre par­cel of land that is sur­roun­ded on three sides by pub­lic streets and one side by the Cal­vary Chris­ti­an Academy ath­let­ic fields.

Zon­ing at­tor­ney Shawn Ward, who rep­res­ents the own­er, said that most rooms are single-oc­cu­pancy and do not have ef­fi­cien­cies or private bath­rooms. The hotel com­plies with a city or­din­ance re­quir­ing it to have at least one bath­room avail­able for every six rooms. The renov­a­tions will also add a new laun­dry room, Ward said.

Mean­while, the first-floor nightclub will be re­duced by 3,032 square feet. It will con­tin­ue to of­fer pat­rons live mu­sic and bil­liards, Ward said.

The prop­erty had park­ing for about 40 vehicles in the front and about 40 more in the rear, ac­cord­ing to Google Maps im­ages. Hotel guests gen­er­ally park in the rear and nightclub pat­rons in the front, Ward said.

Seth Ka­plan, vice pres­id­ent of the civic as­so­ci­ation, re­por­ted that im­me­di­ate neigh­bors and area busi­nesses had been in­formed of the pro­pos­al and did not of­fer neg­at­ive feed­back. Dan Lod­ise, chief of staff to state Rep. Brendan Boyle, said that the law­maker was un­op­posed to the renov­a­tions.

The ori­gin­al hotel has been a neigh­bor­hood fix­ture since re­volu­tion­ary times. A war skir­mish re­portedly oc­curred nearby.

In the 20th cen­tury, the nightclub op­er­ated un­der many names and mul­tiple formats. In the late 1970s, the en­ter­tain­ment in­cluded top­less wo­men dan­cers. The place even­tu­ally be­came known as Vis­ions. In the mid-’90s, the Cal­vary Chapel moved in next door and helped the Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation suc­cess­fully fight to have strip­pers banned from the club.

More re­cently, the nightclub has also been known as John’s Board­walk and Whis­key Tango. The cur­rent name is a ref­er­ence to the club’s West­ern theme. The logo fea­tures a star and a long­horn steer.

Also dur­ing last week’s civic meet­ing, Somer­ton res­id­ents heard a present­a­tion by two of­fi­cials from Cath­ol­ic Com­munity Ser­vices, a non­profit so­cial ser­vices agency that part­ners with the city’s De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices.

DHS re­cently se­lec­ted CCS to ser­vice as the Com­munity Um­brella Agency for most of North­east Phil­adelphia. CCS will provide ser­vices and re­fer­rals to at-risk fam­il­ies in the 2nd, 7th and 8th po­lice dis­tricts. Ser­vices will in­clude ad­op­tion, case man­age­ment, com­munity out­reach, foster care, men­tal health re­fer­rals, par­ent cafes, trans­port­a­tion and par­ent/child vis­it­a­tion.

The agency is now work­ing with about 250 fam­il­ies in the North­east. In most cases, the chil­dren have been sep­ar­ated from their par­ents or guard­i­ans for vari­ous reas­ons. Some youths have been ad­ju­dic­ated de­lin­quent, oth­ers placed in DHS cus­tody be­cause of par­ent­al prob­lems.

As a se­lec­ted ser­vice pro­vider, CCS seeks to part­ner with loc­al or­gan­iz­a­tions and busi­nesses to help pro­tect the safety of dis­tressed chil­dren and to strengthen their fam­il­ies and their ties to the com­munity. CCS has two North­east of­fices at 2990 Holme Ave. and 10125 Ver­ree Road. Call Mary Bell at 215-992-7058 for in­form­a­tion. ••

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