Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Manayunk's Wilde Yarns project gets the neighborhood nod

Good stuff.

For a building that has sat vacant for years, and also sits right at the Gateway to Main Street in Manayunk, it's good to see another well executed reuse project on the books in one of Manayunk's ex-factories. These are well-built buildings, and it's good to see them get a new purpose in life.

Here are some of the details:

  • 43 residential units
  • 4 buildings (3 old, 1 new)
  • Sizes will range from 600 sq ft to 1,100 sq ft
  • Rents will range from $1,100 to $1,800
  • Main St location
  • Close to restaurants, shops, and multiple forms of public transportation
  • Completion Date will be Spring/Summer 2014

The biggest question everyone asks when something like this is being considered is, "What's the parking going to be like?" Rightfully so, Manayunk is a pretty tight place to park your car; and adding 43 more residences only makes the issue more visible (remember, some of these proposed units are going to have 2 bedrooms).

But does the developer really need to offer 1:1 parking for a large-scale project like this, in such an accessible location?

Another great question is, should the developer even have parking on-site? My fellow, loyal, and local Manayunk/Roxborough readers out there must be saying, "Tim, are you nuts?!?"

Although parking is an issue in Manayunk, community residents typically urge developers to "find" or "create" places for their future residents to park. This is usually in the form of an on-site or shared parking lot and/or garage.

Again, why is this necessary when you can walk to two separate train stations, and also walk to catch the bus. Oh, and you're at the intersection of Main St and Ridge Ave; the start of the neighborhood commercial district. The answer is, because most Philadelphians tell new people coming to the city that they need to park.

I understand the plight of the locals living in this area (I too once lived in a tight section of Manayunk where parking was an issue), but it's getting to a point where we are actually encouraging new residents in Manayunk to own a car. If people think the Green Ln bridge traffic in the morning is bad now, wait until a few years from now when the next real estate development boom is alive and well and more people have moved to the area (both renters and homeowners), and make the decision to drive to work.

Why is this the case?

Because that's the norm for new development in Philadelphia, even more so for places like Manayunk and Roxborough where parking is at a premium. Build a house, provide parking. I can see the logic behind a few, new individual homes on a tight, historic street, but for large-scale developments like this one, I personally believe that it can be looked at differently.

There are other viable ways to tackle this issue, and some may argue with me that they are unachievable; but "what if" local developers...
  • Didn't offer parking, but offered discounts on Public Transportation to its residents. Or better yet, offered monthly public transportation passes as part of the rent.
  • Didn't offer parking, but established new Zipcar and/or Philly Car Share (now known as Enterprise Car Share) spots for residents. This would encourage less/shared car usage; hence, less parking.
  • Didn't offer parking, but made access to trains/buses easier (e.g. better signage, SEPTA education, maps, attractive walkways, etc.).
  • Didn't offer parking, but had bike parking stalls/spaces to encourage more local shopping, etc.
I know, I know.

These are all very easy to talk about, and not easy to do; but not many developers are really suggesting them either. That's where the community groups and residents can come to the rescue.

Manayunk's parking problem is not going away anytime soon, so we might as well discuss what could and should be when a new project (like Wilde Yarns) comes about.

Let me know what you think, and if you agree or disagree.


  1. Parking is fine if it is hidden and does not impact the streetscape. What troubles me about the project is that it does not include any ground floor spaces for commercial use. Depending how those spaces get used could also help reduce the dependance on cars.

  2. I agree, but I really think Manayunk's developers need to start thinking outside of the box.

    Even if the parking is hidden, traffic continues to worsen. There should be other ways to tackle the issue.

    I also agree that mixed use would have been smart. Thanks for the comment.