The owner of Northeast Philadelphia’s only waterfront nightclub and catering facility wants to build a two-story, 14,000-square-foot addition to the business. And he’s going to seek neighbors’ support for the project.
Kevin Goodchild, owner of Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe at Delaware and Arendell avenues, unveiled preliminary construction plans during the monthly meeting of the East Torresdale Civic Association on Dec. 12. As the registered community organization for the neighborhood, the ETCA is expected to host a zoning presentation in the coming months after Goodchild files formal permit applications with the city.
Neighbors have often been at odds with the owner over prior remodeling and expansion of the business, as well as complaints about its role in local quality-of-life problems like disorderly crowds, noise, litter and parking snafus. The business has also hosted many charitable events, including fundraisers for the families of fallen police and firefighters and medical causes.
During his brief comments at last week’s meeting, Goodchild acknowledged his past differences with local folks and asked that they consider the new proposal on its own merits. He shared schematic drawings of the concept and said he hopes to work with the community to fine tune the project.
“Nothing is set in stone,” Goodchild said. “I’ve been here eight years now. The business has grown and I’ve learned from my mistakes.”
The addition will be dedicated to the catering side of the business. It would be built in a parking lot directly south of the existing nightclub. A walkway will separate the existing structure from the new building.
The drawings show 70 new parking spaces that would be installed on undeveloped Delaware Avenue property adjacent to the proposed catering hall. Goodchild plans to lay out 28 additional spaces behind the existing nightclub along Arendell Avenue.
Goodchild said that the new hall would help him handle high demand for catering services, which is booked about 18 months in advance despite last year’s expansion of the nightclub to include a second-floor private bar.
The proprietor expects that the city will refuse his initial building application because the land is zoned for residential use. From that point in the process, he would have to make a formal presentation of the plans to the community at an RCO meeting. He would be responsible for notifying all nearby residents of the date, time and location of the RCO meeting. Typically, the East Torresdale Civic Association meets on the second Monday of each month at Liberty Evangelical Free Church at 7 p.m.
After the community meeting, Goodchild’s attorney would have to seek a variance from the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, which would hear the case during a public session at the Municipal Services Building.
In unrelated business:
• The ETCA re-elected its executive board members to new one-year terms. There were no opposing candidates. The board includes Lew Halas (president), Bill Kennedy (first vice president), Joe Drioli (second vice president), Justine Bolkus (treasurer) and Linda Hogan (recording secretary), as well as numerous committee chair positions.
• The ETCA approved a zoning variance application for a proposed CDL driver training classroom at 9430 State Road. The landowner, Karj Sandhu, operates a gas station, car wash, express lube and self-storage facility on the same property. He also owns a tractor-trailer parking lot on Hegerman Street in Upper Holmesburg.
Sandhu wants to establish a CDL school with all classroom instruction to occur at the State Road site and all hands-on driving instruction to be based at the Hegerman Street site.
ETCA members agreed to approve his variance application on several conditions: that the school doesn’t bring any trucks to the State Road site, that class sizes are limited to six students at most, that the landlord create defined parking spots to accommodate the school and that the variance is a temporary one with mandatory renewal after five years.
• Halas, the ETCA president, reported that the civic association may not have to take a local warehouse owner to court after all.
Earlier in December, members agreed to file a legal appeal that would prevent a landlord from erecting a large, two-faced digital sign at 9310 Keystone St. overlooking Interstate 95. After reviewing a case record provided by the zoning board, leaders of the civic group realized that the zoning board had not approved the digital sign as previously thought. Rather, the zoning board had approved a static sign.
Halas said that the ETCA is working with an attorney to monitor the case, which is likely headed back to the zoning board for its consideration of the landlord’s modified application. ••