5901 Ridge Ave -- Demolished Friday December 14, 2012 by Giovannone Construction
On November 13, 2013, the first special hearing was held at the Zoning Board. Neighbors opposed to the project filled a bus and streamed in from all corners of the globe to pack the zoning room. After three hours of testimony by the applicant, the hearing was stopped and rescheduled to be finished later. It was frustrating for the neighbors to stand in a hot and stuffy room for three hours and not get their chance to speak.
On January 8, 2014 the second and final hearing was held. Neighbors and opponents again packed the room and finally got their say. Central Roxborough Civic Association and the neighbors argued against the drive-through component. Saying it will increase congestion at a busy intersection and otherwise degrade the quality of life in the neighborhood. Testimony was given about current conditions, drive-through statstics, actual counts from other Wendys, specific neighborhood features, including current area development guidelines, personal experiences, etc.. The zoning board took all the testimony under advisement and will announce their decision in the future.
On January 28, 2014 the Zoning Board supported the community. They approved the special exception for a take-out restaurant but denied the special exception for a drive-through. The decision can be seen on-line . See the Newsworks article about the decision .
The Bunting house was built by Dr. Ross R. Bunting around 1880 and stood proudly on the corner of Ridge and Roxborough for 132 years. The house was designed by architect Otto Charles Wolf who also built the historically certified Louise Bergdoll House .
Between September 2011 and April 2012 the Giovannones bought the Bunting house and the four surrounding properties for around $970,000
In September of 2012 the local Civic Associations discovered that the Giovannones had pulled demolition permits for all the buildings, including the Bunting House. The Civics appealed the permits and filed for a stay of the demolition.
On December 13, 2012, the stay was denied. The following day, the Giovannones demolished the Bunting house. The appeal is still pending, waiting for a decision from the Zoning Board of Adjustments.
On March 19, 2013, the appeal was denied.
On March 7, 2013, around 100 neighbors came out to the Central Roxborough Civic Association meeting to hear about plans for the now empty lot. Attorney for CRCA, Hal Schirmer, explained the legal implications of trying to put a fast food restaurant on the site and how a legal appeal of such a project could proceed. The legal presentation was followed by a quick survey. "How many are opposed to a Wendy's?"; 100 hands shot up. "How many support a Wendy's"; No hands went up. "How many are opposed to any fast food?"; 100 hands shot up. "How many support any fast food?"; No hands went up. Frank and Tony Giovannone were there just to observe but came to the front to answer questions. They explained that they don't have a signed deal with Wendy's. Desipite empassioned pleas from neighbors to do something else at the corner, and after listing to several suggestions, it was clear that the Giovannone's first choice was still and steadfastly fast food, and first and foremost Wendy's.
February 20, 2013 -- It looks like the Giovannones have reached into the bottom of the barrel and found a Wendy's franchise that is interested in the site. Plans are reported to in front of the Planning Commission.
According to the March 14, 2013 Roxborough Patch article covering the recent Wissahickon Interested Citizens Association meeting, the deal with Wendy's may be off “There’s no deal with Wendy’s,” Frank Giovannone told the association. “The plan we submitted was for a fast food restaurant, but the community is not in favor of that so we’re heading back to the drawing board.”
The new plans will require a zoning variance to build a take out restaurant and for signs at 5901 Ridge property. The Giovannones will present their plans at the Central Roxborough Civic Association October 3rd, 2013 at 7:30 general meeting. The meeting will be held at the Leverington Presbyterian Church at Ridge and Hermitage. All are invited.
On October 3, 2013, once again over 100 concerned neighbors turned out to voice their opposition to the proposed Wendy's. This time they faced off with attorney for the Giovannones, Carl Primavera, and table full of Wendy's representatives. Mr. Primavera's frustration became apparent as he took to chiding the audience when it became clear there were very few sympathisers. Check out the Newsworks article about the meeting.