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Bunting House Demo Back On; Lawsuit Proceeds

No progress made on effort to preserve 5901 Ridge Ave.

The historical Bunting Home may face demolition after all, sources said.

Developers told neighbors that efforts to find suitable commercial tenants at 5901 Ridge Ave., and plans for demolition at the corner Victorian will proceed, according to multiple sources.

In a message to the Manayunk Neighborhood Council, President Kevin Smith shared this update on the Giovannone brother's attempts to find financially viable renters to avert demolition at the former home of Dr. Ross Bunting.

"At the meeting, they announced that, over the last two months of calling around, they had no luck with the various chains and local hospitals. Carl Primavera, representing the investors in 5901 Ridge LLC, said that they were prepared to go ahead with their original plan to demolish all the buildings in the hope of finding a buyer for cleared lots," Smith wrote.

A coalition of civic associations, represented by attorney Hal Schirmer, originally filed an appeal with the Department of License and Inspections in September when plans to demolish the Bunting Home, along with 5903-9 Ridge Ave and 520 Roxborough Ave., were approved by the city.

Frank and Tony Giovannone, Roxborough natives, legally secured permission to demolish four buildings to make vacant lots. The Central Roxborough Civic Association, Manayunk Neighborhood Council, Ridge Park Civic Association, Wissahickon Interested Citizens, and Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association appealed that decision.

Initially, the property owners agreed to a 30-day discussion period to find alternate paths aside from demolition, which was extended through Nov. 29. The Giovannones met with the civics, Roxborough Development Corporation and Councilman Curtis Jones' office. The legal appeal was delayed to encourage talks.

Instead of knocking the Victorian building down, the Giovannones said they tried other projects—fast food or other restaurants, drug stores, etc. or possibly a medical building, Smith said.

On Friday, it was announced those plans failed.

Legally, the developers have city permission to demolish their property. However, an injunction hearing is set for Dec. 4, at 3:30 p,m., in Room 696 at City Hall. Schirmer said this won't be continued.

Helen Mangelsdorf December 04, 2012 at 01:00 AM
I am very sorry that developers in Roxborough and Manayunk have such a short-sighted view of ' development'. Many buildings, new and old, stand empty on Ridge. Old and historically significant homes are torn down for construction that will never pass the same test of time. Meanwhile, major infrastructure issues go un-noticed and un-addressed, witness the Green Lane Bridge and the many retaining walls that support the neighborhood.
james koslosky December 04, 2012 at 05:33 PM
It's all about the money with developers. Everything else is irrelevent.
Kevin December 04, 2012 at 10:43 PM
It's terrible that Ridge Ave will lose such a beautiful old building. No doubt that it will be missed... But from a business standpoint this is a perfect location for KFC or Popeye's. If either of those chains move in there, they will make money hand over fist. There's already a built in market for their product at the Septa stop, Kendrick and the hospital. Plus the Roxborough lifers around lower Ridge will finally have another dining option besides the BP and 7-11 at Shurs Ln. Not to mention all of the fantastic employment opportunities that a fast food chain will bring with it. Who cares if Ridge Ave looks ugly(er) with a KFC. It's pretty gruesome right now as Debbie and Helen pointed out with the empty buildings, vacant lots and crumbling infrastructure... Developers are going to do what developers do; speculate, invest and try to make a buck. You're never going to change that. My advise to all of the civic associations and friends of the Bunting house... BUY IT! Pool your money and BUY THE PROPERTY. Money talks. Oh you don't want the responsibility of maintaining half a block on Ridge Ave? Then let these clowns knock the thing down and then BUY IT. Make a park, garden or something nice that ALL of the community can be involved in and enjoy.
Debbie Thomas December 05, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Kevin, do you not see the comment above from David Schiman? They did have someone interested in the Bunting House. And I never said that Ridge Avenue looked ugly or gruesome. I said if the demolition of homes continues leaving vacant lots, the area will look like North Philly. Knocking down the Bunting House also ruins the character of the neighborhood. Chestnut Hill must have different zoning laws or stronger community groups because that neighborhood has managed to keep its charm and character. I still stay opposed to putting a fast food chain on Ridge. There are plenty of dining options on the Ridge.
Kevin December 06, 2012 at 03:50 PM
LOL Chestnut Hill! Sadly the similarities between Roxborough and Chestnut Hill are very few. Their strong civic groups may play a minor role, but I highly doubt that's why Chestnut Hill has retained it's charm. I think it's real significance both historically and architecturally has more to do with why it has stayed unchanged for so long. Roxborough on the other hand has no historical or architectural significance, other than the Levering School, St Tims and the Valley Green. Oh sure, there might be some nice old buildings in Rox but without historical designation they with always be fair game for the wrecking ball. And yes Debbie, I did see the above comment by David Schiman "We made an offer to RENT the entire building at $1,000 a unit". I wasn't suggesting that the Friends of Bunting RENT it, I was suggesting that you BUY IT (and the adjacent properties). Obviously the current owner doesn't want to be in the business of renting Bunting because its more attractive to a developer without the current structures present. Translation: he can make more money without the buildings there. All of the legal proceedings and red tape are just prolonging the inevitable. Try this: http://www.kickstarter.com/ I personally think that it'd make a wonderful public garden, playground and/or dog park. I'd be happy to contribute $100 towards any kickstarter that proposes to BUY and REHAB Bunting and the adjacent properties or BUY the land and convert it to public space.

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