Rhawnhurst residents deadlocked on proposed apartment building

A plan to build a 20-unit apartment building on Castor Avenue received mixed reviews at Thursday’s Rhawnhurst Civic meeting.

 

Zoning attorney Harry Cook speaks to residents Thursday at the Rhawnhurst Civic Association meeting about a plan to build an apartment building on Castor Avenue. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

More than 115 people showed up to Thursday’s Rhawnhurst Civic Association meeting, but, by the time the group voted on a controversial apartment project, fewer than 90 remained.

RCA President Ken Kline threatened to end the meeting if people who live outside the organization’s boundaries — from Cottman Avenue to Woodward Street between Roosevelt Boulevard and Algon Avenue — didn’t voluntarily leave the building.

After the lengthy vetting process, residents were deadlocked, 43-43, on a proposed 20-unit apartment building at 7956-68 Castor Avenue, between Loney and Ripley streets. Additionally, all five members of the civic’s board voted against the plan.

Manish Patel is seeking a zoning variance to construct a three-story building on the property, which is zoned for single-family housing. Half of the units would be one-bedroom apartments, and the other half would be two bedrooms.

The plan calls for 22 parking spaces, a portion of which would be incorporated as garages on the building’s ground floor.

Patel said he would consider accepting tenants who qualify for rent subsidies, which didn’t sit well with neighbors.

Harry Cook, Patel’s zoning attorney, noted there are other apartment buildings on that stretch of Castor Avenue.

“Within the texture of the neighborhood where this property sits, it’s not like it’s going to be an albatross,” he said.

Patel, who three years ago purchased the lots for nearly $500,000, had previously proposed a Laundromat and strip mall on the site but withdrew his zoning application after pushback from neighbors. 

Currently, there is one house on the property. It would likely be demolished if the plan goes forward. 

Residents voiced competing arguments after the presentation. 

A woman who lives nearby said she already deals with disturbances from local bars and finds syringes on her block, and she worried the project would add to her woes. Another man said residents should support the project and instead target existing apartment buildings that are run-down. 

Before the vote, Kline said Rhawnhurst was developed with a balance of apartments and single-family homes, and he is concerned about the neighborhood being tilted in favor of rental properties. He also told residents apartment buildings lower home values.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear the case March 18. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com.