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Preserving Garden Court’s Future Through Remapping

Change is happening all across Philadelphia, as more people discover our great city and decide they want to take part in all it has to offer. This is especially true here in Garden Court, as development pressure reaches further and further into West Philly. It is important for us to manage this change effectively, so that we can welcome newcomers to our neighborhood without sacrificing the things that attracted us all to it in the first place. One way we can manage this change is through updating our neighborhood zoning, through a process called remapping. We need your help to finalize this process for Garden Court.

As you may know, the Zoning Code determines building dimensions and use for all new construction in the city and is a useful tool for shaping development. Our neighborhood's zoning, however, has not been updated in almost 50 years, and does not reflect the reality of our neighborhood today, or where we would like it to go in the future. By “remapping, we can better align the zoning code to the needs of Garden Court.

During the fall of 2017, the GCCA Zoning Committee used both the University Southwest District Plan and the “West District Plan” that were developed through the City’s official Phila2035 initiative to create a new map of Garden Court, with updated zoning recommendations. After a discussion of our neighborhood's values, we reviewed the maps and provided feedback to the City.

After incorporating this feedback, the City sent representatives to our GCCA General Meeting on March 15th, 2018, to present the new maps and hear feedback from the community.This feedback was incorporated into the current version of the zoning map, which can be viewed here.

You may be asking, "what does this mean for me, how does this affect Garden Court?"

The overall themes of what we are trying to accomplish with this remapping are as follows:

  • Protect: We want to protect our single family housing stock by down-zoning where appropriate so that single-family blocks are not disrupted by multi-unit carve-ups. We also want to protect both Barkan Park and the Tennis Courts/Community Garden from development by having them zoned for strictly recreational purposes

  • Reflect: There are a number of existing apartment buildings from the 1920's that are zoned single-family; we would like to upzone these parcels to align to their current use

  • Grow: We want to plan for the Garden Court of the future. As the rest of the city discovers how great our neighborhood is, we want to be prepared with an ample supply of housing, which will also strengthen the Spruce Street Commercial Corridor. Specifically, we want to upzone the 4700 block of Spruce to CMX-3 and the 4800 Block to CMX-2.5.

So now that we have these proposed maps, what are our next steps?

In order to have the zoning updated, it requires an act of Council. GCCA has already reached out to Councilwoman Blackwell's office stating that we need this bill to protect our community and asking for her support in this endeavor. We need you to call her office and offer your support to have this remapping done. Her office's number is 215-686-3418.

GCCA encourages you to let Councilwoman Blackwell's office know that you support a remapping of Garden Court; that this would prevent some of the more egregious by-right development that has occurred across the city, and is contrary to our community's values. We encourage you to talk about how this bill would help us Protect, Reflect and Grow in the wake of greater housing demand.

With your help, we can get our zoning right, and ensure that Garden Court continues to be the type of place that we all chose to live.

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