Demo permit signals new future Lovett Library neighbor

by Tom Beck
Posted 7/6/23

The permit would allow the demolition of a two-story house at 6915 Germantown Ave., now used as a home for disabled people.

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Demo permit signals new future Lovett Library neighbor


The city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections issued a zoning permit on behalf of TierView Development last month that seeks to demolish the two-story home at 6915 Germantown Ave., a location currently used by nonprofit behavioral health and education provider Merakey to house disabled people. 

The location, which is situated across the street from Germantown Home and next door to the Lovett Memorial Library, sits on an especially green, tree-lined block of Germantown Avenue between two halves of Mt. Airy’s business corridor.

TierView president Jenn Patrino declined to comment for this story, citing a company policy that prohibits commenting on pending transactions. As a result, it’s unclear what will replace the building if it's demolished. 

The lot is zoned CMX 2, which allows for 38 foot high buildings with a mix of commercial space on the ground floor and residential units on top. An additional 7 foot bonus could be added if low or moderate income housing is included. 

For reference, this would be similar to the type of development completed at 6610 Germantown Ave. in 2020, a residential building near the corner of West Hortter Street that includes the Adelie Coffee House.

Mt. Airy-based developer Ken Weinstein, owner of Philly Office Retail, said that the site could potentially be developed in such a way that it would bridge the conspicuous gap in the neighborhood’s business district between Sedgwick Street and Gorgas Lane.

“I call it a missing tooth in the business district,” Weinstein said. “There are businesses on the 6800 block to the south, and on the 7000 block to the north, but it’s interrupted on the 6900 block.”

Ideally, Weinstein said, Germantown Avenue should be a continuous commercial corridor.

“Those small businesses need more customers to help them survive. That’s why we need more density on Germantown Avenue,” he said. 

Janis Risch, the executive director of Mt. Airy’s business improvement district, agreed with Weinstein.

“As a general rule, the more commercial space we have, the better it is for the whole commercial corridor,” she said. “A fact of our commercial district is that it’s not one contiguous commercial area. There’s these gaps where there are important institutions, but… the more we can fill it in the better it is for the whole commercial corridor.”

Weinstein said he’d like to see the lot developed with a three-story building, with commercial space on the ground floor. 

“It’s all a balance,” Weinstein said. “We want more density, but not so much density that it chokes the commercial corridor. Certainly a three-, maybe four-story building is very appropriate.”

Residents, however, were wary of any new construction that could come with development on the lot.

“Everybody’s concerned about construction,” said Kevin K, a resident who lives right behind the property on East Gorgas Lane and who did not want to provide a last name. “The concern is that they can build up to four stories, which would completely cut off our view of Germantown Avenue. The neighbors feel very cut off from the progress.”

But the project is still in its early stages, and East Mt. Airy Neighbors president Linda Bell is optimistic about working with TierView to create a transparent process that makes neighbors feel involved.

“We like to work with good, conscientious developers who take into consideration the village feel that we want to maintain,” Bell said. “If that’s what [TierView is], we’d love to work with them.”

But, Bell said, Mt. Airy residents live in the neighborhood because they enjoy the open space it provides. They’re not likely to embrace a dense, Center City style proposal. 

“Each neighborhood in Philadelphia has its own cultural feel,” she said. “People live here because they don’t want to live in Center City.”