THE GRID OCTOBER 2012 COVER story reported on a development controversy in southwestern Philadelphia’s Eastwick community. Korman Residential has proposed building 722 apartments on 35 acres adjacent to single family homes and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. For the City, the land holds great economic value, offering an expanded tax base and jobs. But residents aren’t in favor of paving over the green space, especially since it’s located so close to the Refuge.
In the months since Korman announced their development plans for Eastwick, community members have mobilized. They formed the Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition, testified at City Council meetings, and repeatedly asked their councilman, Kenyatta Johnson, to pull his support from the project.
Finally, on November 20, at a public community meeting, the residents were heard: Councilman Johnson announced he would no longer support Korman’s project. “You [the residents] should’ve been at the table foremost,” said the Councilman, whose announcement was met with a standing ovation. “Those who live in the community have the most powerful authority at the end of the day.”
At the meeting, the Councilman said he will be withdrawing the bill to rezone the 35 acres from single family homes to multi-family. This action puts Korman’s plans on hold; without rezoning, the project can’t move forward. But, says Korman, this doesn’t mean the project is dead.
“We will continue our community outreach in an effort to create a situation where the community is supportive and then, we can move forward,” says Peter Kelsen, the attorney representing Korman. “If we’re not successful in that effort, and I’m hoping we will be, and or the Councilman is disinclined to pursue this project, we’ll decide what our action steps are at that point.
For now, residents see Councilman Johnson’s announcement as a major victory, and moving forward will work directly with his office to plan the future of the Eastwick community.
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