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Developer in Dilworth house project suffers set back from appeals court decision

4/10/2012 | Real Estate Blog

When a developer undertakes a project, there are often a number of obstacles. In their work, developers work with various parties to see a project through, including architects, city planners, engineers, surveyors, contractors, inspectors and leasing agents. Any number of roadblocks can be thrown up along the way.

On Monday, the state Commonwealth Court-one of Pennsylvania’s two statewide intermediate appellate courts-reversed part of a zoning decision allowing developer John J. Turchi Jr. to build a luxury condominium tower on property currently occupied by the historic Washington Square home known as the Dilworth house. As the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, the court ended up siding with opponents of the project, who want to preserve the Neo-Colonial house because of its historical significance.

The court reversed a variance granted to Turchi that would have allowed him to build the tower without a loading dock. Under Philadelphia’s zoning code, a loading dock is required for a building that is over 50,000 square feet. That variance had apparently been granted because of the limited space available for vehicle maneuvering and parking. According to the appeals court, though, the only reason a loading dock would have been difficult to include in the project was because the proposed building was too large.

Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Board of Licenses and Inspections Review prevented Turchi from demolishing part of the Washington Square home, and he has appealed that decision in the Common Pleas Court. The demolition had apparently been approved by the Philadelphia Historical Commission, but the Board of Licenses and Inspection review has rejected the proposal twice.

In addition to the loading dock issue, the appeal decision will be sending several matters back for further local review. These include various objections to the project that the Zoning Board of Adjustment had previously refused to consider.

At this point, it isn’t clear whether Turchi is going to redesign the project or just cancel it. Opponents, obviously, hope for the latter.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Luxury condos on Washington Square dealt setback,” Robert Moran, April 10, 2012.