PROPAC narrowly rejects proposed Sepviva lofts

Port Rich­mond com­munity groups di­vided over mar­ket-rate apart­ment pro­pos­al as it heads to the ZBA.

  • The cracked windows of the abandoned factory, which may soon be converted into loft apartments, as seen from Sepviva Street. JULIE ZEGLEN / STAR PHOTO

  • Daniel J. Lasdon Real Estate representative Joseph Beller presents the developer’s proposal for coverting a vacant factory into loft apartments at PROPAC’s meeting last week. JULIE ZEGLEN / STAR PHOTO

By Ju­lie Zeg­len

For Star

Port Rich­mond on Patrol and Civic (PRO­PAC) voted 12-13 against the pro­posed con­ver­sion of an aban­doned fact­ory build­ing in­to a 52-unit apart­ment com­plex at a di­vis­ive meet­ing last Thursday. 

The site is loc­ated at 3560-62 Sepviva Street. Pro­posed by Daniel J. Las­don Real Es­tate, the apart­ments would be sold at mar­ket rate and in­clude an out­door re­cre­ation area. 

No changes would be made to the façade of the build­ing be­sides win­dow re­place­ments. The de­veloper’s pro­pos­al was ori­gin­ally re­jec­ted by the City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion be­cause the space is zoned for in­dus­tri­al pur­poses rather than res­id­en­tial. 

Also un­der the plan, the lot loc­ated across from the build­ing at 2200 E. Tioga Street would be con­ver­ted in­to private-ac­cess park­ing for the com­plex’s res­id­ents. 

The ex­act num­ber of park­ing spaces has not yet been de­term­ined, but the de­veloper’s plan in­cludes at least one space for every apart­ment, with a cap­ab­il­ity of up to 114 spaces. Only 26 spaces are re­quired by the city. 

The de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­al was also presen­ted on Feb. 27 to the Port Rich­mond Com­munity Group, which ap­proved it 13-1. 

Oth­er groups have re­portedly tried to pur­chase the site be­fore, without suc­cess. 

Sean Mc­Monagle, a le­gis­lat­ive as­sist­ant for Coun­cil­man Mark Squilla, was in at­tend­ance at the meet­ing and was asked why Phil­adelphia Tram­rail Baler and Com­pact­or, a loc­al busi­ness loc­ated a block away from the com­plex on E. Ontario Street, had not at­temp­ted to pur­chase the site. 

“The Phil­adelphia Tram­rail is aware that that par­cel is avail­able and has been for quite some time,” he said. “There have been en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues with the par­cel, which are prob­ably cost-pro­hib­it­ive for [them] to ac­quire it, so that’s why they have nev­er taken it, as far as I know.”

Those en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues were tied to con­cerns about park­ing. 

The lot, cur­rently owned by the city, is tested every few months for dan­ger­ous chem­ic­als. 

“Whatever was there be­fore left something in the ground,” Mc­Monagle said. “Nobody knows the ex­tent of what it is, so as long as you don’t dis­turb it, you’re fine.”

Meet­ing at­tendees poin­ted out, though, that the land would be dis­turbed if park­ing spaces were laid over it, and that green space would need to be cre­ated around the area to catch drain­age from the lot. 

“Those sew­ers on Sepviva Street are not big enough to handle all that,” res­id­ent Helen La­da­vich said. 

After a long dis­cus­sion about how the lot would get drained, Las­don rep­res­ent­at­ive Joseph Beller, Esq. as­sured res­id­ents of the firm’s ad­her­ence to code. 

“Let me make one thing very clear: if we get this, and it works out the way we’re pro­pos­ing, we will meet all con­di­tions,” he said. “Nobody’s go­ing to go in there and throw black­top down and say, ‘To hell with every­body.’ We’ve already star­ted meet­ing with vari­ous city agents. Noth­ing will be done without per­mits.” 

Oth­er at­tendees were wor­ried about the young pro­fes­sion­als who the de­velopers hope will fill the apart­ments. 

“We have a prob­lem in our neigh­bor­hood with parties, loud mu­sic,” one neigh­bor said. “Will there be trash in the park­ing lot?” 

Beller re­spon­ded that apart­ment ap­plic­ants would go through a back­ground check to be ap­proved, and that sur­veil­lance cam­er­as and lights would be in­stalled out­side of the build­ing. 

“We have noise clauses in our leases,” he said, adding that rule-break­ing ten­ants would be evicted. 

La­da­vich, whose fam­ily owns La­da­vich Ex­cav­a­tion and Plumb­ing near the pro­posed com­plex on Ven­ango, still wor­ried that people mov­ing in­to the lofts would con­trib­ute to the crime and drug prob­lems in the area.

“Un­der that bridge [on Ven­ango, ad­ja­cent to the site] right now as is, I’m al­ways stop­ping someone from pulling over and shoot­ing up in the park,” she said. “Se­cur­ity’s not stop­ping people from go­ing un­der that bridge. We’re the ones that sit out­side there, and we’re the ones that stop them.” 

The Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment will vote on wheth­er or not to ap­prove the de­veloper’s ap­peal on Wed­nes­day, March 19, at 2 p.m. 

Oth­er zon­ing pro­pos­als voted on at the meet­ing were the con­ver­sion of 3624 Balfour Street in­to a whole­sale auto­mot­ive equip­ment store and of 2302 E. Al­legheny Av­en­ue in­to a phar­macy. Bill Flan­nery Auto­mot­ive was ap­proved un­an­im­ously. Al­legheny Health Phar­macy was ap­proved 14-9. ••

Ju­lie Zeg­len can be reached at ju­liezeg­len@ya­

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