Looking forward to 2014

Opinion December 31, 2013 0 Comments

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by Pete Mazzaccaro

Last week I used this space to talk about the year that had been. This week, as we continue the look back at the most memorable stories of 2013, I’m left wondering what 2014 has in store.

As far as neighborhood zoning is concerned, we’ll likely get a good sense of what direction the Woodmere’s new master plan will take. That process, which began in earnest last month, has had its first public meeting and will press forward with what promises to be a pretty interesting remake of Chestnut Hill’s residential art museum.

Aside from that, we’ll likely continue to see stories of very large Chestnut Hill estate-sized homes that struggle to sell and are left attractive only to institutions – organizations that have the resources to purchase and maintain these properties that seem to have lost their appeal to single family owners. The Crefeld Street home that the John Jay institute was interested in purchasing is a good example. That organization decided not to pursue moving its headquarters to Chestnut Hill after immediate neighbors voiced opposition to the plan.

As these larger homes remain on the market, we’ll likely see more institutional interest that clashes with the will of the neighbors to keep their blocks purely residential.

On Germantown Avenue’s business corridor, there might be more to be excited about in some time. Many vacancies are filled, we have new restaurants and shops and the completely remade Chestnut Hill Hotel, where chef Al Paris is opening his third neighborhood venture, complete with a stage for live jazz performance.

But we have the continuing issue of vacant properties on the west side of the Avenue’s 8500 block as well, in the the former Citibank property and Mellon Financial. How long will these properties remain empty?

Also, when will development begin at the site of the former Magarity Ford? The old dealership was razed this year. Perhaps construction will begin soon.

And so begins a year under a whole new way of doing things for the Chestnut Hill Business Association. After quite a few years without a director, they have not only hired one in Martha Sharkey, but landed significant funding in the form of a new Community Development Corporation funded by the business privilege taxes of Chestnut Hill Hospital. What this means for change is hard to say. The CHBA is interested in building on what it has, but new people and new resources might make for new ways of doing things. We’ll see.

The Chestnut Hill Community Association is also on the path to major change, having set in motion a plan to become a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. That likely won’t take effect this year, but by the time the year is over, we’ll likely have a very good idea what changes are in store, not only for the CHCA, but for the governing structure of this paper, which the CHCA owns.

And that touches on only a few of the things we know about. Much will happen that we don’t expect, I’m sure. In the next year, we’ll continue to cover these stories and hone new ways of doing what we always do, both through expanded efforts online and maybe something new in print, too.

Either way, we’ll be here to continue to record what happens next year, the same as last.

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