OCF Coffee House
Fairmount Avenue is a little bit foreign to me and I am getting my ass kicked with the local politics.
Anyone here able to help me out and show support for my new establishment at 2100 Fairmount? I have a public architectural review meeting for the facade on Tuesday morning, and a zoning hearing (near neighbor appealed my over the counter use permit) on Wednesday afternoon. The historic meeting is significantly more important at this point. I am roughly 2 weeks away from opening but I've hit some significant road blocks....currently working under a Stop-Work-Order due to the non-historic facade.
Spring Garden Civic and some immediate neighbors do not wish for me to open. This is strictly my opinion and not their words.
1) Historic is very upset about my windows. They, along with LI have been called out to the site a few dozen times by the same party. I believe the windows add a lot to the corner and put far more eyes on the street. They are obviously not of historic quality but neither were the vinyl ones previously there. My current windows and garage doors are within the historic openings. I believe they represent a modern interpretation of the historic look.
2) SGC and some immediate neighbors are trying to hold me to some provisos signed 10 years ago with the former tenants. Namely, they do not want me to cook any food at the property and want to restrict my hours of operation and the number of seats my establishment will have. They even had concerns about the name as they believe "OCF Coffee House" is misleading as it will be far more than a coffee shop (I have a full kitchen here and spent $40k venting 4 stories through the building)...they suggested I pick a different name.
In short...they want me out of business before I even open. I'm exhausted, thought I would be open months ago, and just want to add a great business to your commercial corridor.
I am not trying to make everyone happy....just trying to do my thing and add value to the corner.
Please e-mail me at email@example.com if you can help by attending a 9:00AM Tuesday morning meeting and a 2:00PM Wednesday afternoon meeting.
Last edited by ofeibush; 11-26-2012 at 01:48 AM.
Ahh, the good old SGCDC. They control the neighborhood with an iron fist, and there's little actual participation from people in the neighborhood at that. Did I mention in the original thread that you should have picked Francisville instead?
Anyway, I can't make it out to those meetings as I have a very tight work schedule this week, but I would gladly provide you with written and signed statements for you to present if you think they would mean anything. I live on Fairmount Ave, although it's about five blocks away. I walk my dog past the place almost every day and I had actually sort of wondered what the holdup had been as I figured you would have wanted to be open in time for Terror Behind the Walls. I think the plan to open up the walls and put big windows in is great. I've been excited to see the inside for a while now. I don't understand how they can complain about it not being historic when you've done so much to refinish the outside of the building that if anything it looks more historic now.
Last edited by AbortedWalrus; 11-26-2012 at 11:17 AM.
Damn you can't catch a break
This has to be one of the least business friendly towns on earth
Just full of losers with too much time on their hands
It's Pat Freeland--the lady who was wrapped up in the Fumocash series of scandals (she used to work for Fumo).
And who's claim to fame when she was president of SGCDC of developing---a parking lot. That's about the only real urban renewal that SGCDC could figure out to do with Fumo-derived dollars. (Oh yeah there's of course trumping up the prettying-up some PHA properties, which is pretty trivial. SGCDC under Freeland was a joke.)
Last edited by ArcticSplash; 11-26-2012 at 04:50 PM.
How is Fairmount Avenue Spring Garden civic? Not Fairmount Civic?
I think the front is looking much, much better than the previous tenant. We could certainly use more businesses on the avenue.
I think it would be hard to get people to show up on a Wednesday afternoon, but could probably round up some signatures of support or emails from the general Fairmount commmunity - not immediate neighbors but people who use the avenue as their shopping/dining street, would that help?
This stuff is so frickin ridiculous. No wonder we can't have nice things. There are a lot of newcomers in this neighborhood who are really sick of it.
The south side of Fairmount Ave is Spring Garden, the north side is Fairmount, and Francisville starting from Corinthian to Broad.
Originally Posted by phillycat
Sadly a handful of Nazi dinosaurs try and make decisions for the other 99.99% of us who live in Spring Garden.
Start a web petition and get it out through social media and the local business. You should get plenty of signatures and support. Also get the petition out on the Fairmount Parents (includes SG, Fairmount and Francisville) list serve which now encompasses over 1,000 members. Plenty of folks who write for Philly.com live in the neighborhood as well and may run with the story of a few politically connected calling the shots for many.
Also use Alla Spina as a precedent for the doors on an old building.
All else fails publish their names and contact information and those of us that want to call/email them directly at home to discuss can do so.
Ah yes, welcome to the world of Ms. Pat Freeland. I'm sure she has some good intentions (maybe??), but she is the thorn in the side of a lot of architects and developers that attempt to do work in our neighborhood. There is a very small contingent of people in Spring Garden that think they rule the roost, but who are really super out of touch with the wants of the majority. There needs to be a changing of the guard - bottom line. She does nothing but stunt progress of a coffee shop, yet seems to tolerate the mess than is PHA housing smack in the center of the neighborhood. I think her efforts could be better served cleaning up the messy pockets of the neighborhood than fighting over windows on a rehabbed building.
If there's a petition, I'd be happy to sign. Good luck.
Sounds as though it's not just the SGCA but the Historical Commission that has its own issues. The building has no particular architectural value in my view and the large window openings would be a big improvement not least because of the OP's remark about eyes on the street - always a good thing. But I am surprised this wasn't all worked out moths ago. ISTM that if the zoning didn't permit on site cooking then it should have been dealt with before. I can imagine neighbors might have some issues with this but surely it can be worked out. We want this kind of development.
Originally Posted by Titus
My proposed use is permitted by right in the CMX-3 district this property falls in. I applied for a use permit and received it as a matter of right. It was then appealed to the ZBA by a neighbor who does not want cooking.
Does anybody have a source-creditable photo that's recent of Pat Freeland?
I'm considering writing an article up about her for Philadelinquency.
Of course I'm going to probe her as to why she thinks OCF is going to "destroy" the historic fabric of the building. I'm sure the justifications will be fantastic.
You can always contact Pat directly on her Facebook page and ask her what precisely she wants built in that location--since after all you MUST go through Pat before you build anything in the SGCDC...
BTW here's a historical photograph of the facade we're talking about... is an International pickup parked out front any indication of "histori-cicity"? :
Unleash Jordan on the neighbor.
Originally Posted by ofeibush
Hell... maybe tag team Carl Primavera for a double-fisting if it has to go to Common Pleas. I doubt Pat's legal training will be a match for Carl's.
Yeah the "cooking" is just a red herring.
Originally Posted by ofeibush
Not unless the appellant shows up with reams of medical reports that claim that remote exposure to kitchen ventilation causes extreme asthmatic response. Can't even boil ramen noodles on the stove without being admitted into hospital. Appellant lives a life of cold tuna sandwiches, crackers and V-8.
This is probably one of those "duh" questions, but what is the use of having proposed uses permitted by right and then allowing individuals to appeal those permits? You might as well give up on having a zoning code at all and just go door to door asking if it is okay if you open a business. And if anyone doesn't like it, oh well, forget it.
Originally Posted by ofeibush
Philly has to be the most litigious town on earth
Just taking a stab in the dark here, but I think it changes it from 'does the community approve of the project' to 'does the community have a specific reason for appealing the project'. It makes it more of a 'you have the right to build what you want without infringing on other people's rights'. With a prepared food shop like OCF, I could see an appeal being "Their vent blows directly onto my porch!" (not that this is happening here, it's just an example).
Originally Posted by phillycat
Appeals from By-Right permit: Background
For those who are surprised that a by-right permit can be appealed, here's a brief layman's description of how it works. (This description is for information only. It isn't meant to imply any judgment, positive or negative, about this specific appeal.)
Originally Posted by ofeibush
If a person believes that an over-the-counter permit was issued in error, s/he may challenge the permit issuance. S/he has 30 days to initiate the challenge from the time s/he knew, or should have known that the permit was issued. This is an administrative appeal that goes to the Zoning Board, not to the courts. The person filing the appeal must show how the permit is damaging to his/her individual interests (i.e., must show how s/he is "aggrieved".) But, more importantly, s/he must also show that L&I was legally required to either deny the permit, or to issue a referral to the ZBA for consideration of a "Special Exception". A special exception is not a variance -- it is a use that should be approved, unless an objector is able to demonstrate that this particular implementation of that use is contrary to the public health and welfare.
And this process is totally needed as in my neighborhood an over the counter permit was issued to for a dental office to expand into the other half of a residential Victorian twin and neighbors noticed when they started banging down the middle wall. Sometimes the Cedar Point Park ladies are useful.
Originally Posted by Pinkham
Sad it is being misused in this instance though.
There is no doubt in my mind that Kenyatta made a few phone calls.
It's called Zoning!
RE: immediate neighbors are trying to hold me to some provisos signed 10 years ago with the former tenants. Namely, they do not want me to cook any food at the property and want to restrict my hours of operation and the number of seats my establishment will have.
On the face of your comments, that is what Zoning is about, a set of rules from which exceptions are granted. Most of the business world can make a living within the system, this is not a lemonade stand. I have not seen any expressed hardship in this thread, just kick Pat around. Where is the substance? How will you differ from Mugshots in your operation?
FYI, 23rd & Brown never opened because they wanted to cook, in their place there are 3 other coffee shops looking to open in the area. Cooking BTW can occur off site, which is what many shoppes do.
Occupancy limits? why is this a problem
Again, why do you feel a hardship with L&I and Fire Code requirements. Is your business plan to cater to those who veg out on their electronic hardware for hours, sipping a single cup of coffee. Pizza & steak shops, Chinese Take-out, pop-up apothecary-only shops all survive on a dynamic, not a static cliente, it's called churn in some retailing areas.
I have been before the ZHB three times, demonstrated a hardship, on several points each time, and was awarded a variance. I have also filed objections to applicants, as they place a hardship on me. Again, you have not demonstrated any valid points for exception. If they exist please state them.
As for proported statements of support, the expressed thoughts, recommendations and opinions mean nothing to the City. And, contrary to what the ill-informed & never done it say, it is better doing business now than in the past. Learning to accept it and work within the system is called maturity. -30-