Home News Mount Airy neighbors want answers after a 130-year-old mansion was demolished for new homes

Mount Airy neighbors want answers after a 130-year-old mansion was demolished for new homes

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When developer Christiane Murray purchased a 130-year-old stone mansion in Carpenter Lane last November, some of Mount Airy’s residents probably saved it as part of a new senior housing community. Some wanted to be done.

However, neighbors were disappointed when the crew began to destroy the house on June 14 at 157 West Carpenter without reports of dust and asbestos required by the city. Others are concerned about the condition of the retaining walls on the three-acre site, which was determined by city inspections to be unsafe. And many have characterized Murray’s plans to build six luxury single-family homes there as a lost opportunity.

The house, which was run as a church-run group home before the pandemic, and its three-acre land, can be used for redevelopment in recent memory, as experienced by Mount Airy and other northwestern regions. It is one of the single largest residential properties that will become. Rapid increase in new construction.

Murray, who refused to interview, has done a lot of development, including Carpenter Lane and other parts of Mount Airy where he lives with his family. The property was purchased by 157 Carpenter Lane Investors LLC in November 2021 for $ 645,000.

“The developers claimed that the house was in a terrible shape, but I can confidently say that it was a very salvageable building,” said the architect, a major conservationist. Molly Zimmerman, a resident of Mount Airy who went, said.

“When people destroy a perfectly good historic building, it will create a lot of hostility,” Zimmerman said.

Mount Airy is proud to be a diverse, organized and enthusiastic community that values ​​the history, greenery, walkability and transportation access of northwestern Philadelphia. Locals allow Murray to freely subdivide his property and build a house on it, but have a say in shaping the future of such an important part of the landscape. I was hoping for.

Anna Harman, an educator whose home is adjacent to the property, wanted local residents to buy the property for a better neighbor relationship. Then the dismantling began “without warning”, she said.

“I have no problem with people buying land and creating their own vision,” Harman said. “I don’t want anyone to tell me I can’t put a wildflower meadow on my property, but I didn’t receive a simple email telling me what to expect.”

Originally called Cryflown, the house was built from locally quarried. Wisahikon schist In 1892 he helped shape the early development and lasting personality of Mount Airy for the businessman Sydney Long Stress Light. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia bought a house in 1954 and ran a group home for young women there until the pandemic broke out.

“It was a nice looking historic building that could be fully adapted to new applications,” said 157 Carpenter. Philadelphia Historical Place Registration last year. Nomination is still pending.

“It could have been a model for conservation, public transport-oriented development, and housing for the elderly,” Mohr said, as it has its own staircase to Carpenter Station on Septam’s regional rail system. ..

Extensive community opinion on the city’s planning process Upper NorthwestWe have identified the need and desire for more elderly housing in that part of Philadelphia, including Mount Airy. This plan was adopted by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in 2018.

“I’m not anti-development. I’m a professional smart developer. But housing development is very fast, all luxury, and large, and the price range that is changing what people value very much about their neighborhood. It’s happening at, “he said.

Mall too Murray’s achievements have been recognized for doing a “good project” at Mount Airy.

Developers attended two community meetings last year on the 157 Carpenter plan, but West Gogas Lane resident Josephine Winter wasted effort to get information about what’s happening on the site. Said that he was dissatisfied with.

“Of course, you would have liked to keep the old beautiful building,” she said. “But the ship set sail.”

Winter and her family live in a row of houses separated from the retaining wall by a narrow alley where children in the neighborhood often play. 157 Carpenter’s wreckage was visible from her backyard, and she said dust had flowed into it on the first day of demolition work.

Dismantling was stopped by inspection on June 14th By the city’s license inspection office, in response to complaints from neighbors. On Wednesday, the crew returned to work “again without communication with their neighbors,” Winter said.

Kevin Lessard, the city’s communications director, said Wednesday that an L & I inspector “visited the site today.” [and] While there, he confirmed that asbestos reports and monitors were on site and that building materials containing asbestos were reduced.

“In addition, dust control has been implemented,” said Resard.

Executive Director of Winter West Mount Airy Neighbors, And the mothers of the two young children called demolition “a typical example of what shouldn’t be done”, whether asbestos was found in the house, and how the potential diffusion of the substance into the air. He said he needed to let his neighbor know if he would prevent it.

Neighbors also want to see reports by engineer Murray hired to assess the condition of the retaining wall.

Murray did not respond to the reporter’s request to see the report or the wall. However, engineers hired by Winter and his neighbors concluded that the deterioration of the wall was exacerbated and that parts of the wall were “going to collapse” unless repairs were made.

In a ruling issued on May 22 and revised on June 14, the City Street Authority determined that the wall was liable to the owner of the 157 Carpenter, in accordance with the 1926 certificate.

But Mr Winter said she and her neighbors were concerned about how that responsibility would be fulfilled after the property was subdivided into six residential lands. “Who is going to take care of the wall? Who will answer us when the rocks are falling?” She said.

Yvonne Haskins, a lawyer who lives in Mount Airy and is a longtime advocate in the neighborhood, says the city needs to develop a better system to handle problems related to retaining walls that are common, especially in the northwest. Said.

Haskins also said Murray called last year for help with 157 Carpenter’s plans and suggested that Murray meet with the community. At one such meeting at Carpenter Station, opposition to the developer’s plans was overwhelming among the 30 attendees. She said her opinion was divided in a session after Haskins was not invited.

Cindy Bass, a member of the District 8 City Council representing the Northwest, is also involved in exchanging developer views with the community. The meeting was tentatively set up on Friday, but the bus said it was unclear if it would take place.

“We want development, but we also want preservation,” she said. “People move to these communities because they have a very unique and specific look. They want to be here and we can do it in a reasonable way. I want to keep the atmosphere of the northwest as much as possible. “

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