MNC approves new townhouse project and Main Street restaurant
September 13, 2011By Amy Z. Quinn of PlanPhilly
A new restaurant on Main Street and a townhouse neighborhood on Leverington Avenue won approval from the Manayunk Neighborhood Council, ahead of zoning hearings on the two projects.
MNC members voted to support the applications at its monthly meeting last week, held at the offices of the Manayunk Development Corporation at 4312 Main St. The group may meet there in coming months, as work continues on the new Venice Island Recreation Center.
Developer Andy Thomas presented his plan for The Cliffs, 17 townhouses with rear garages and off-street parking spaces, at Leverington Avenue and Silverwood Street. Currently an empty former industrial site and once approved for a 30-unit, five-story condominium building, the parcel is zoned I2 and needs a variance for residential building.
The development would have access through a driveway on Krams Avenue, and each house will have a rear deck and a planted green roof, Thomas said. Plans show three-story townhouses with a brickface facade, with three bedrooms and an interior loft area. The houses will sell for about $499,000, Thomas said.
While the townhouses reflect a significant decrease in the number of residents and cars that could potentially have come to the site, there were still serious concerns voiced about adding yet more activity to that area.
With traffic headed down along Manayunk streets toward the Schuylkill Expressway ramps on Belmont Avenue, simply getting down Leverington Avenue from Manayunk Avenue to Main Street can take upwards of a half hour in rush-hour traffic.
Liz Heller, who lives on Krams Avenue, said the townhouses would just make a bad situation even worse.
"It's very dense now, so adding 17 new homes will make it harder for us to live there," Heller said. "This affects Krams because it's the only way to get out to Leverington Avenue."
Everyone in attendance, including the developer and his project attorney, Bill O'Brien, acknowledged the traffic juggernaut in that neighborhood, but some expressed reluctance to take those frustrations out on Thomas' project.
Ultimately, the MNC voted to support the application when it goes before the ZBA at a hearing scheduled for Sept. 14.
In other action, the MNC will support a new 100-plus seat beer-centered restaurant in the former Mainly Shoes building at 4400 Main St. The MNC's support is the result of an agreement hammered out in a process president Kevin Smith said the group hopes will serve as a template for future restaurant and bar plans along Main Street.
Rich Rivera and Rob Nydick, also developers of Agiato, the Main Street Market and two planned eateries -- a Taqueria and a barbecue place called Rubb -- appeared to give details of their latest Manayunk effort. Cervisia (a Latin word for beer) will serve craft beer and upscale gastropub-style cuisine, with a bar area, Rivera said.
Under the terms of the agreement, some of which also reflects current zoning overlay restrictions, the restaurant would stop serving beer at 1 a.m. and close by 1:30 a.m.; include seated service only; have no live music, djs or dance floor; no cover charge and no self-serve take-out.
Rivera said they agreed because it fits with the kind of dining experience they're trying to create in the two-level space.
"We really feel like the late-night, 2 o'clock, 2:30 crowd is a negative, too," he said, adding that they intend to apply these terms to their other current and future Manayunk ventures. "This is not for power drinkers."
MNC member Darlene Messina said despite the more adult demographic the new restaurant will seek, Manayunk should seek more BYOB eateries as a way of curbing excessive drinking along Main Street.
"I'm terribly disappointed that we're losing more retail space," Messina said. "It is not irresponsible to have a restaurant that is BYOB."
Rivera said Cervisia would use a liquor license to be transferred from the now-closed Terrace Taproom at 3847 Terrace St., so it's not actually bringing a new liquor license to the neighborhood.
The zoning hearing for Rivera's project is scheduled for Sept. 13.