Mayfair Civic postpones vote on plan for former bar property

The Mayfair Civic Association considered four zoning issues at its Jan. 27 meeting, including one involving the former Fiddler’s Green property.

Zoning attorney Zhen Jin speaks to residents Monday, Jan. 27, about 7356 Frankford Ave., formerly the home of Fiddler’s Green and McNoodles. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

In its first meeting of the year, the Mayfair Civic Association considered four zoning issues, including one involving a property connected to a notorious former bar.

Fiddler’s Green, previously known as McNoodles, shut its doors in 2016 after an outcry from neighbors in response to a stabbing, frequent disorderly activity and liquor license violations.

Since then, not much has happened at 7356 Frankford Ave., and it might stay that way. Residents at the Jan. 27 civic association meeting decided not to vote on a zoning application to legalize an addition to the vacant building, which the owner hopes to convert into a daycare. 

The permit is to legalize a one-story hallway connecting the main building to a garage. Attorney Zhen Jin said the structure was built for safety reasons, as thieves have previously broken into the garage.

Jin said a daycare operator planned to rent the property but backed out due to concerns about zoning.

The owner said she plans to renovate the building with an eye toward securing another daycare as a tenant. Jin said he believes the use would be permitted. The maximum enrollment would be determined by state regulators, he said. 

Residents at the meeting said permits should have been pulled before doing the work and pointed out that no zoning notices were posted outside the property. The civic continued the case and planned to send a letter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment saying proper procedures weren’t followed.

The ZBA is scheduled to decide the case Feb. 12 after postponing an earlier hearing on the matter that was scheduled in October. 

Civic members voted to support a permit for a check cashing business at Roosevelt Plaza, a shopping center at 6501-95 Roosevelt Blvd. 

Coren Wise, an attorney for the applicant, said the operators would be cashing checks and not offering payday loans or other forms of lending. 

The property is outside of the Mayfair Civic’s boundaries, but the group was asked to hold the meeting by Sixth District Councilman Bobby Henon’s office, president Donny Smith said. 

It’s the third zoning application involving Roosevelt Plaza that the Mayfair Civic Association has voted on in recent months. At the November meeting, residents supported the installation of an ATM in the center’s parking lot and a sign permit for Batteries Plus Bulbs. Both variances have since been approved by the ZBA.

Residents also decided to support an addition and use variance for Rhawn Automotive, which is at the southeastern corner of Roosevelt Boulevard and Rhawn Street.

The family that has run the repair shop since 1993 purchased the property when a gas company decided to no longer use the site as a station. They are planning to expand the building and want to be able sell used cars.

Part of the plan is also to cut down on the number of curb cuts to prevent drivers from cutting through the parking lot to get onto Rhawn Street.

Finally, civic members voted in favor of a permit allowing Speedway to convert its price sign from manual to digital at its station at 6401 Harbison Ave. Attorney Jim Murray said the change is being made at all Speedway locations.

Changes at the BID

Marc Collazzo, who has served as executive director of the Mayfair Business Improvement District for the past two years, has stepped down to take over the newly-formed Fishtown Kensington Area BID.

Smith said Collazzo will remain in the position until the BID finds a new executive director.

Additionally, a tax credit program that provided funding to the Mayfair Community Development Corporation is in the process of being transferred to the BID, Smith said. 

As part of the program, Seravalli Contractors Inc. will contribute $100,000 a year for a decade to the BID and receive a tax break, according to an email Collazzo sent out to stakeholders.

Smith said the CDC is not going away, but community leaders are still trying to figure out what its role will be without the funding.

Tax season

Vicki Riley, of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, spoke to residents about property taxes and water bills.

She said the city has stepped up enforcement of tax-delinquent properties and now collects 96.1 percent of real estate taxes.

Riley told residents about tax relief programs, including the popular Homestead Exemption and the Low Income Senior Citizen Tax Freeze. 

Some residents at the meeting said there are rental properties in Mayfair receiving the Homestead Exemption, which is supposed to be only for owner-occupied homes. Riley told them to report suspected fraud to her at vicki.riley@phila.gov. The department has investigators who can look into it, she said.

Riley also told residents to contact the department immediately if there is a problem with their water bill.

For more information on property taxes and water bills, visit www.phila.gov/departments/department-of-revenue. 

The Mayfair Civic Association’s next scheduled meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, March 8, at the Mayfair Community Center, St. Vincent and Battersby streets. ••

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