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Metro Development Self-Storage Proposal Stirs Controversy in Philadelphia

October 23, 2018

2 Min Read
Metro Development Self-Storage Proposal Stirs Controversy in Philadelphia

Self-storage acquisition and development firm Metro Development Co. is facing controversy over its plan to build a six-story facility near the new $10 million Rail Park and several apartment buildings in Philadelphia. The zoning board of adjustment (ZBA) unanimously approved the project for 1314-32 Spring Garden on Oct. 3 even though it was opposed by the planning commission and the Callowhill Neighborhood Association. Councilperson Mark Squilla also urged the ZBA to reject the variance request by Metro President Michael Grasso, according to the source.

The storage facility would be operated by real estate developer and owner Johnson Development Associates Inc. (JDA). It would include 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The site is on the far edge of the city’s central core, an area that includes commercial and residential development. Grasso paid $350,000 in 1994 for the property, which is near the Broad Street Subway and city hall.

To obtain the variance, the developers had to prove the existing zoning rules would be difficult to follow without incurring financial hardship. They pointed to the drug-treatment center next door, stating it made the property undesirable for the development of apartments or office space, the source reported.

The city recently finalized a master plan that was six years in the making and includes 18 individual neighborhoods. The zoning maps have been redrawn to reflect the city's desire to create a walkable community that’s centered around transit stations. Its Home Rule Charter states the ZBA has final say on land-use issues.

The city plans to appeal the ZBA’s decision, according to a written statement from Anne Fadullon, director of the department of planning and development. “Spring Garden should be part of a vibrant, mixed-use corridor. It is zoned to accomplish that goal. A storage facility, however, would create a dead spot in what should be a thriving neighborhood,” she wrote.

Metro has more than 30 years of experience in urban and suburban development, revitalization, and redevelopment projects. It works with affiliate companies US Realty Associates Inc., US Managers Realty Inc. and USRA Construction Management Co. to market, build and manage its projects.

JDA specializes in commercial, industrial, multi-family and self-storage properties. It owns 23 self-storage facilities in the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia.

The Inquirer, Philadelphia Expected the Rail Park to Generate New Development

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