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Pool Hall Plan For Center City Building Raising Neighbors’ Concerns

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A plan to turn an iconic former bank building in center city into an upscale billiards parlor is now headed to Philadelphia City Council — but condominium owners near the building are skeptical.

A developer wants to turn the Beneficial Bank Building — at 12th and Chestnut Streets and shuttered for the last ten years —  into what he says would be the city’s first “upscale” billiards parlor.  His plans include a large bar on the building’s roof.

Zoning laws, though, prohibit billiards in that part of center city, so Councilman Frank DiCicco, whose district includes that site, has introduced a bill to amend the laws and allow the project to go forward.

Some neighbors believe the billiards aspect is just a ruse for what could become a nightclub operation not far from where they sleep, but DiCicco says provisions in the bill will prevent it from becoming a club.

“They don’t want it to become a nightclub where you’re going to have public drinking and dancing and all of that stuff,” DiCicco concedes.  “I think there’s enough safeguards in the legislation that will prevent that from happening.”

An attorney for one of the irate neighbors says he’s now reviewing DiCicco’s legislation to determine its constitutional validity.

Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio City Hall Bureau Chief.

Top Content On CBSPhilly

  • Philadelphia Lawmakers Give Initial OK For Controversial Center City Billiards ParlorCBS Philly

    […] The Beneficial Bank Building, at 12th and Chestnut, has been vacant for a decade, and now a developer wants to turn it into a billiards club with a bar and rooftop lounge area (see previous story). […]

  • Mike

    NIMBYs have two universal tactics. One is attacking the worst case scenario, calling it a “club” or conflating the maximum occupancy as the normal crowd every night. The other is claiming they’d accept an unrealistic, scaled back version of the project, that isn’t on the table.

    You bought a condo in the city center of a major city. You live a block away from a hospital helipad, and an emergency room, on a street heavily trafficked by buses, garbage trucks, deliveries. Your neighbourhood is already noisy. A sit-down rooftop bar that’s covered during the winter and on rainy days, and will likely only be crowded on Friday and Saturday nights will not make a big difference. You should be excited that a developer came in with a vision and plan unique to our city.

  • Team white bldg

    Many residents in the white building would fully support this project IF it did not include the open air roof top bar with room for 200 bar patrons. That is just too many people drinking out doors within 50 feet of bedroom windows. It is fine to open an in door bar but a 200 person outdoor bar is not going to help the neighborhood, it will make it unlivable for any residents.

  • Happy Owner

    Oh, please! I live in the White Bldg, and nobody got duped. In fact, the selling broker made a point of pointing out the traffic and big city noise. Not only were we all aware of the neighborhood, but we all saw the vagrants and drug dealers across the way — and bought into the vision of an improved environment in a few years. Now, with the help of Goldman and other classy and sophisticated developers and retailers on 13th and 12th, things are getting better. This project will only help that effort. The agreements in place serve as strict protection for all residents, and the billiards developer has done everything in his/their power to safeguard all of our interests. The only losers will be the vagrants and the tacky retailers.

  • Mike

    Apparently these Nimbys prefer a dead corner thats rife with vagrancy to developing a disused building. It looks like a great plan for the building, and certainly a place I’d be willing to spend my disposable income.

  • eldondre

    these residents should be exiled from the city. I lived next to this grand toilet for years, this is unquestionably a positive development. Jane Doe obviously has never been to amsterdam billiards and also knows nothing about buying real estate since she bought in the overpriced whit ebuilding to begin with. how, exactly, is the city going to turn around by catering to a handful of reactionaries? nightlife is center city’s fastest growing business and there is no more appropriate place for this than 12th and chestnut, one block from regional rail, the convention center, hotels, and a strip of nightlife on 13th. If she wanted piece and quiet, she should have bought in chestnut hill.

  • jj

    How is this bad? Replace bums with people with disposable income. This is not a quiet neighborhood this is 12th and Chestnut. Lucky Strike is one block away and there are already bars there. Nightlife is Center City’s best product these days. Some people are anti everything.

  • Dan

    JaneDoe and JustMe clearly have no idea where the 1200 Bank bldg is. I live in the neighborhood. The building is currently a vagrant’s paradise. Half a block away from the liquor store and accross the street from the 7/11. It is a wonderful spot to excrete the fruit of that bounty and sleep on a grate. Meanwhile, 12th and 13th streets up until Chestnut are going through a culinary and cultural renaissance. It is just so much easier to shoot off your mouth with reflexive and ignorant anti-government venom than to have an informed opinion…

    • JustMe

      Dan, I did speak out of ignorance and I apologize. The last time I was in Downtown Philly, all of the buildings were being kept up and businesses were really booming. Downtown Philly was the place to be, and apparently all of that has changed over the past few years. I didn’t realize how decadent things had gotten. Sorry.

    • Ardie

      Agreed. Interestingly, I heard that Jane Doe’s lawyer is her sometimes live-in boyfriend who,in my opinion is simply trying to impress her. Center City is thriving because of the night time economy. No one is suffering. Go to any other city where there are roof top restaurants surrounded by high rise residences, you’ll here nothing but praise for the idea. These two are supposed to be smart people. Let’s see how smart they are when it comes to proving their unsupported claims. The lawyer should know what speculation means.

  • tjinphilly

    This building has been a run down, crime infested eyesore since Beneficial moved across the street. Homeless urinating and deficating all over it, begging for money and sometimes mugging people. Yeah these condo owners are really bright. A house of ill-repute would be better than it’s current state. Fix it up, move the homeless out and put in the pool tables. I mean, what is this, The Music Man? “Well you got trouble with a capitol T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool.” Billiards is not a heathen game.

  • JaneDoeTaxpayer

    This is the same type of problem that the residents and taxpayers in Old City are having to deal with. Special legislation to allow a developer to do whatever they want. They suck you into buying expensive properties, telling you lies about how nice the neighborhood is, and then, before you know it, a developer comes along (with taxpayer funds, to boot) and the next thing you know, you’re living next to a nightclub … oh, wait, excuse me … “entertainment venue:.It is a travesty. Why have zoning in the first place? It’s totally irresponsible, but it is happening all over cneter city. Dupe the people into paying exorbitant prices for condominiums, then let developers ruiin it,. But hey, let’s not halt the creation of those high-paying, skills building jobs as waiters, waitresses, bouncers, DJs, and bartenders. That’s what will really make Philadelphia great!

    • NickP

      Duoed? Neighborhood? This is Chestnut St, home of Israeli elctroninc stores. Not like it’s a residential district. You choose to live there you have to expect none resident uses.

  • JustMe

    There goes the neighborhood!!

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