Tag Archives: abandoned property

Unions protest Germantown development projects

St. Peters Episcopal Church in Germantown (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

St. Peters Episcopal Church in Germantown (Photo by Bas Slabbers for NewsWorks)

Are escalating union protests one sign that a neighborhood is on the upswing?

Developer Ken Weinstein, who’s company Philly Office Retail is a fixture in Northwest Philadelphia, recently sent out the appeal below to neighborhood residents, in response to a protest by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union.

Weinstein did not hire IBEW members for his Waldorf School campus development, which is now underway at the long vacant St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, located on the 6000 block of Wayne Avenue in Germantown. Instead of protesting in Germantown however, IBEW is targeting Weinstein’s customers at The Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy, hoping to disrupt business at the friendly neighborhood restaurant.

The historic St. Peter’s Episcopal Church was designed by noted Philadelphia architects Frank Furness and George Hewitt, and listed on the Preservation Alliance’s annual endangered properties list in 2010. The religious buildings are now being adapted to function as a school campus for pre-K through 8th grade students.

In his letter to neighbors, Weinstein says he is investing nearly $6 million into the project, which after years of neglect, requires extensive restoration.

Elsewhere in Germantown, union activity continues outside of the Post Brothers’ Rittenhouse Hill apartment towers, at at Rittenhouse Street and Wissahickon Avenue. (Note to self, buy stock in yard signs.) As development interest grows in Germantown, expect to see more protests around development activity, whether they spurred on by unions or residents themselves.

Union protest signs outside of The Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy (Photo via Chestnut Hill Local)

Union protest signs outside of The Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy (Photo via Chestnut Hill Local)

Inside St. Peter's (Bas Slabbers for NewsWorks)

Inside St. Peter’s (Photo by Bas Slabbers for NewsWorks)

Read Ken Weinstein’s email to friends and neighborhood leaders below. Learn more about the Waldorf School project and view photos of the church campus at:

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Ken Weinstein <Ken@phillyofficeretail.com>
Date: Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 3:52 PM
Subject: Really need your help

As a friend, I am writing to seek your help and support. I am being personally attacked for not hiring IBEW (electrical workers union) members for my development project converting a long vacant and deteriorated property in Germantown into a vibrant and active Waldorf School campus. IBEW members were stationed outside Trolley Car Diner this morning handing out flyers with my picture and cell phone number listed.

Below are some facts that IBEW may want to consider before trying to turn customers away from the Diner:

  • We are investing nearly $6 million into this positive Germantown development. It is the largest investment in Germantown in many years.
  • We returned this property to the real estate property tax rolls after years of no tax revenue.
  • We are saving several Frank Furness designed buildings on this 1.5 acre campus. These buildings were listed by the Preservation Alliance as one of the most endangered historic properties in the Philadelphia region.
  • This project uses no government funding, other than historic tax credits that were recently awarded to this project in exchange for preserving the structures.
  • Unlike members of IBEW, a majority of our contractors hired are from the northwest Philadelphia community and are racially diverse.
  • Unlike IBEW, our chosen general contractor, McCoubrey/Overholser, is based in Mt. Airy and invests heavily in our community.
  • This project will create nearly 100 temporary and permanent jobs and will allow the Waldorf School to add students and grow.

I do not appreciate this personal attack and I will not stay quiet while they spread lies and misinformation about our projects designed to revitalize our neighborhoods. I will put up my record of revitalizing our region’s urban communities, anytime, against the efforts of IBEW to shut down projects that positively impact our community.

I am asking you to visit Trolley Car Diner in the next couple days to let the protestors outside the Diner know that you don’t agree with their position and that they are doing a disservice to the community by trying to discourage people from visiting the Diner and shutting down our Waldorf School development project. If you want to be sure that the protestors are there when you visit, feel free to call the Diner at (215) 753-1500. They know that you may be calling to check.

I don’t care whether or not you stay to eat at the Diner, just that you let the protestors know that they do not have the support of our community and that they should support my efforts to make northwest Philadelphia a better place to live, work, learn and enjoy. Please ask the protestors to tell their leadership that they are not helping their cause by camping outside the Diner with their threatening signs and flyers.

They say that you know who your friends are when times get tough. I am blessed to have many good friends who have a common vision for our community and City.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information. I would love to hear feedback on your visit to the Diner when you get a chance.



The 4th Annual Philly Spring Cleanup is Saturday, April 2 & W Rockland Street is participating!

It’s that time of year again. The 4th Annual Philly Spring Cleanup is just around the corner! The city-wide cleanup will be heldon Saturday, April 2 beginning at 9 a.m. This is the 3rd year W Rockland Street is participating. Our first year was an huge success. Tons of neighbors came out to give the block a Spring cleaning and a group of students from Drexel University helped us to clean the vacant lots on the block, which were total dumping grounds at the time. Our second year, was even better! More neighbors got involved and student volunteers from St. John’s University, brought to us by organizers at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, came all the way from New York to pitch in.

2011 is here and we have bigger and better plans for transforming our vacant lots into permanent green space. Looking to get involved? Volunteer for our cleanup project! Register online here or email rocklandstreet@gmail.com.

W Rockland Street Cleanup and Lot Transformation Project

We have no funding, nor do we work with any partner organizations. Our group is comprised of a handful of block home-owners working to implement much needed change in our community.

Goals for the 2011 Spring Cleanup:

  • Clean up all 3 vacant lots (minor cleaning compared to previous years!)
  • Install garden beds in the largest vacant lot of the 3.
  • Install fences in order to help curb future illegal dumping issues – all 3 lots.
  • Cleanup and beautify our own homes and yards.
  • Cleanup the street and sidewalk areas along the entire block.
  • Work with our neighbors to cleanup in front of vacant houses (there are several).
  • Work with our neighbors to assist the elderly in cleaning up their properties.
  • Say no to litter and illegal dumping! Respect our neighbors. Make Rockland Street a beautiful, trash free and safe place to live for all residents!

Future Goals for W Rockland Street:

  • Following our initial cleanup, we hope to continue hosting regular cleanups.
  • We would like to have the entire sidewalk and curbs redone on both sides of the street.
  • We would like to have trees planted on the block in vacant lots and along the sidewalk. (Is it possible to get trees from the city?)
  • We want to make Rockland Street clean and beautiful and keep it that way.

Abandoned Properties: 4815 Greene Street and 4817 Greene Street

4819, 4817 and 4815 Green St, at the corner of W Rockland St, in 2009.

At the intersection of W Rockland Street and Greene Street (on Greene) there are two abandoned homes that are still standing but that were also destroyed by a fire over 20 years ago. The exact date is unknown, I’d have to ask around, but basically it’s been a long, long time. The addresses of the homes are 4815 Greene Street and 4817 Greene Street. The property owners are long gone. The houses are now the site of illegal dumping, drug use and vagrant activity and also a lovely home for neighborhood raccoons.

Over the years, we have called the city to get these homes at the very least boarded up, at best demolished. Still nothing.  Our last reports were directed to Philly311 on March 27, 2010. We were told that LNI would be out to inspect both properties within 45 days. We’ll see what happens this time…

4815 Greene Street and 4817 Greene Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144

West Philadelphia neighbors fight to save their block from an abandoned property

Just read two interesting articles in the news recently, one about a West Philadelphia block fighting to protect their community, the other a news story about the whopping 54,000 Philadelphians who applied for federal rent subsidies (Housing Choice Voucher program better known as Section8 housing) between March 2-15. 54,000!  More about the HCV program later.

The West Philly article includes an interview with Carolyn McClary, the longtime block captain who lives on the 1400 block of N Conestoga Street. She has been fighting to have an abandoned property near her home either sold or demolished. A good quote to think about:

“Some people decide to sell,” she says. “But for those who choose to stay, you worry that before you know it, it’s the whole block.” […] “Maybe I’m asking too much of this old neighborhood.”

No, Mrs. McClary, you’re not asking too much. People need to grow up and be held accountable for their actions on all sides. From the property owners to the city’s lagging paperwork. Looks like now that this article was published, the city is being leaned on to put that property up for sheriffs sale. I hope the situation changes sooner than later.

Read the full article mentioned above here:

W. Phila. neighbors fight to save their block
The Philadelphia Inquirer
By Kia Gregory | April 8, 2010