Roxborough residents are none to pleased about new development plans, which call for a yet-to-be-named fast food restaurant to move in on Ridge Avenue. Last month, a Change.org petition began circulating, calling for the development plans to stop. Concerned neighbors are set to descend upon a civic association meeting tonight, March 7th, at 7:30 at Leverington Presbyterian Church to voice their opposition.
The kerfuffle began last fall over the proposed demolition of the 130-year-old Bunting House, an historic Victorian home at Ridge and Roxborough avenues. The wrecking ball finally came in December, and the house—along with several adjacent buildings that were empty—was razed. In late February, residents finally received word about what would go on the empty lot: a fast-food restaurant. Neighbors were not happy.
A Facebook group called “Roxborough residents against Wendy’s” cropped up, as did the petition, which now has over a thousand signatories. Among the complaints:
I was tipped off to the drama this morning when I received an e-newsletter from the Manayunk-Roxborough Food Co-op Initiative, a group trying to bring a food co-op to the neighborhood. It was titled, “Fast Food or Co-op? Take your pick” (of course I clicked). It read:
The corner of Ridge and Roxborough Aves would be a great location for the food Co-op, providing easy access to healthy food choices for Roxborough and Manayunk residents. Unfortunately the current land owners are looking for maximum profits without much regard to neighborhood impact, and we are not yet in a position to make an offer on their property. Six months from now we will be in a better position to find a home for the new Co-op, with a completed market study and increased community involvement. Now is the time for you to help, by joining our initiative, getting involved, and putting the interests of our neighborhood first, ahead of outside developers and corporations.
So I called David Schiman, the initiative’s chairman, who explained, “The neighborhood is at a crossroads. We can either give over our character to fast-food developers, or we could take a stand to bring own bring healthy-food options to the neighborhood. We’re in favor of the latter.” Schiman will join other neighborhood advocates at the civic association meeting tonight.
As NewsWorks reports, the challenge for the developers is that while the lot is technically zoned for a small retail or restaurant space, they would need a special permit for a drive-thru—which could be a deal breaker for potentially interested fast-food franchises. So that’s at least something for concerned neighbors to cling to.
Also this: In an email sent to Roxborough stakeholders yesterday, Roxborough Development Corporation (RDC) director Bernard Guet, wrote, “Just this past Monday we met again to work with the developer to find a positive alternative to a fast food restaurant. We are working to try to find a use that would be more appealing to the neighbors and the residents at large. The developer is working with us and has agreed to look into these other options.” The RDC is officially maintaining a neutral position in the neighborhood fast-food war.