Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fate of Fecera's Project Rides on Parking Ruling

Grainy photos by Evan Brandt
An artist's rendering shows what a renovated Fecera's building would look like after a $13 million renovation.
In end, three years of struggle, hundreds of thousands of dollars and what is likely the last chance to see a former factory in the center of town end up as something other than a pile of bricks may come down to a last-minute change in the borough's parking rules.

Wednesday, the intrepid developers who want to spend $13 million to turn the former Fecera's Furniture warehouse at the corner of Beech and North Evans street into affordable apartments for artists were forced to plead their case -- again -- to another borough agency.

The 3 men who will decide the fate of the Fecera's project are,
from left, 
Mark Patrizi, chairman, Jay Harp and
alternate Doug Lenhart.
This time, they had to convince three members of the Pottstown Zoning Hearing Board -- Mark Patrizi, Jay Harp and alternate Doug Lenhart -- that the parking rules that were in place when the project received a conditional use from borough council last May, should be the ones applied to their project.

Under those rules, the developers' good-faith attempts to obtain more parking to address the concerns expressed by council and the neighbors, would have born fruit, providing more spaces than that ordinance required.

But council pulled a fast-one and increased the parking requirements for rental properties after granting the conditional approval.

Under the new rules, instead of needing 65 total spaces (they have created 59 of them off-street), Genesis Housing and Housing Visions of Syracuse, N.Y. would need 98.

A variance is also being sought to allow these 3 signs on the building.
William Kerr, the Norristown attorney hired to present the case to the zoning board, argued the previous ordinance should be the one applied.

However, he argued, if the zoning board decides the new rules should apply, a variance should be granted because the new rules make the property unusable.

Heather Schroeder, the project coordinator for Housing Visions, put it more bluntly.

If the zoning hearing board rules against them and won't grant a variance, "we will have to walk away because the project will be impossible."

The three-hour hearing ended around 11 p.m. without the zoning board making a decision.

Solicitor R. Kurtz Holloway said the board has another hearing next Wednesday, Sept. 2, and expects to announce a decision at that meeting.

In the meantime, here are the Tweets from last night's hearing.

1 comment:

  1. OH my GOD Pottstown Council, Wake the hell up!!! If this falls through you only have yourselves to blame. No wonder businesses don't do business here. At every instance there's some ridiculous ordinance or code that can't be modified or changed. This project will bring revenue to the town.