New Port Richmond group opposes Grace Townhomes

Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment to hear de­veloper’s ap­peal for per­mits to build a 36-unit de­vel­op­ment for low-in­come renters on a va­cant block in Port Rich­mond on Wed­nes­day, March 26. 

A brand-new Port Rich­mond com­munity group, Port Rich­mond Ac­tion Com­munity As­so­ci­ation West, voted 22-2 against the pro­posed Grace Town­homes de­vel­op­ment at its first meet­ing on Wed­nes­day, March 12.

The group, called PACA for short, is the first re­gistered com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tion to op­pose the pro­ject. 

The de­vel­op­ment would turn a va­cant block at 2201 E. Au­burn St. in­to 36 be­low-mar­ket-rate rent­al units for res­id­ents who meet cer­tain in­come guidelines.

Oth­er Port Rich­mond groups have voted as fol­lows:

• Port Rich­mond Com­munity Group voted 18-5 in fa­vor of the pro­ject in Janu­ary. 

• New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, in part­ner­ship with Somer­set Neigh­bors for Bet­ter Liv­ing, which is not yet a re­gistered com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tion, con­duc­ted a vote on Monday, March 10. 

The total vote of res­id­ents liv­ing with­in one-quarter mile of the site was 27-18 in fa­vor of the de­vel­op­ment, but the loc­al vote of res­id­ents liv­ing with­in 500 feet of the site was tied 4-4. 

In NK­CDC’s let­ter of sup­port to the zon­ing board, the group lis­ted some of res­id­ents’ re­com­mend­a­tions, in­clud­ing adding an on-site man­age­ment of­fice, in­creased street light­ing and a space for youth to play to the plans. 

• Port Rich­mond on Patrol and Civic de­ferred on the is­sue to Port Rich­mond Com­munity Group.

PACA Pres­id­ent Maurice Camp­bell said he dis­trus­ted the NK­CDC/SN­BL vote. 

“The meet­ing was very packed and al­most every­one was against the town­houses be­ing built,” he said in an email to Star. 

Camp­bell, whose ad­dress is lis­ted a block away from the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment, has told Star that he op­posed the pro­ject be­cause it would be for low-in­come renters, who he wor­ried would bring vi­ol­ence to the neigh­bor­hood.

Tess Donie of NK­CDC said the or­gan­iz­a­tion fol­lows the Phil­adelphia City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s best prac­tices for zon­ing votes. 

“NK­CDC is a pro at this,” she said.

Some people who go to church in the neigh­bor­hood but don’t live with­in one-quarter mile of the site were un­able to par­ti­cip­ate in the vote, she said. 

The Wo­men’s Com­munity Re­vital­iz­a­tion Pro­ject, the non­profit de­veloper be­hind the pro­ject, is sched­uled to present its ap­peal to the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment on Wed­nes­day, March 26, at 2 p.m. at 1515 Arch St., 18th floor. ••

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