The Washington Square West Civic Association voted Tuesday not to oppose zoning variances needed for plans to resurrect the Lincoln Apartments.
The building, at 1222 Locust St., has stood empty since a five-alarm fire largely gutted it in the summer of 2006, making its steps a haven for loiterers.
Building owner Jacob Ungar hired architectural firm Cecil Baker and Partners, whose owner sits on the association’s board and recused himself from votes on the project, to spearhead the proposal for the renovations, made possible after a long-awaited insurance settlement earlier this year.
The new proposal calls for a return to the six-story apartment building that will contain 40 apartment units. Thirty-two of the units will be one-bedroom apartments, and the rest will be two-bedrooms or studios.
The building will contain a fitness center and rent is expected to be $2.35 per square foot, per month, a mid-range standard cost for the area, board members said.
The variances the project needs, because of such elements as a building height outside of the standard zoning allowance, were nothing new, zoning committee chair Carl Engelke said Tuesday, since the building is returning to its former size.
When the renovation plans were presented to the zoning committee a few weeks ago, committee members still had a few questions — such as how Ungar plans to contend with loitering.
Engelke said Ungar, who is based in New York, assured, among other stipulations, that he would use a Philadelphia-area contractor who would remain in contact with the association throughout construction.
Engelke said committee members were “very pleased with the design.”
“Not a lot is going to be changed,” Engelke said of the new building versus the Lincoln prior to the fire. “If we had any issues with the design or the unit sizes, we wouldn’t have hesitated to opposE it. But this has gone on for too long, and we really want to see this move forward finally.”
All but one member of the zoning committee voted in favor of a non-opposition position in an email vote, and all members present for the full board meeting Tuesday voted for non-opposition.
Ungar will go before the city’s Zoning Hearing Board Oct. 19, now with the backing of the association.
If ZHB approves his plans, a bid for construction is expected to be put out at the beginning of the year, with construction starting in spring or summer.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.