July 14 GCCA Zoning Meeting

Garden Court Community Association has a regularly scheduled Zoning and Development Committee meeting at 8pm on Wednesday, July 14th. We are still meeting virtually, via Zoom; log-in detail are at the bottom of this post.


Meeting Agenda:

  • 1. Zoning cases: 5102 Larchwood Avenue

  • 2. Call for membership.

  • 3. Report: any status updates for ongoing projects of significance (4900 Spruce, 4701 Pine, 303 S. 51st, 314 S 46th Street)

  • 4. Report: June Garden Court real estate activity - permits issued, home sales, and apartment rentals

  • 5. Councilperson's legislation introduced: mixed income neighborhoods overlay

  • Public Comment

  • Committee Working Session (closed)

  • Next Meeting: August 11 (may be cancelled for summer recess) or September 8th


1. 5102 Larchwood Avenue variance request.


The property in question is an existing 3.5 story rowhouse fronting on Malcolm X Park. The property is in a single-family district, and the applicant is seeking to legalize an existing 3-family use. No interior or exterior construction is proposed.


At our meeting, the applicant will present their proposal and neighbors, anybody from the public, and members of the committee will have the opportunity to make comment or ask questions. We will take a poll of support, opposition, or non-opposition from any neighbors and members of the public to share with the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). In its closed session, the committee will take a similar poll to determine its own position and share with the ZBA. The ZBA may consider these polls/positions and has the final authority to grant or deny variance requests.


The L+I refusal and existing floor plans are shown below.




2. Call for Membership


The Committee has four upcoming vacancies and is holding an open call for new members. We have been promoting electronically and flyers will be going up around the neighborhood this week. Applications are due 31 July 2021; more information and the application can be found here. Please consider applying and share with your networks and anybody else you think would be a good fit!



3. Significant project updates


GCCA zoning is trying to keep tabs on some of the larger scale developments underway in the neighborhood so that we provide our community with neutral, fact-based information about what's happening. From time to time, we may invite developers to provide a community update and answer questions.


314 S. 46th Street (25 apartments via adaptive re-use of the Good Shepherd Community Church building and erection of a new building on site). The roof has been replaced, foundation and vertical framing for the new structure are about complete complete, and work on the interior of the existing building have begun. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2021. The developer will unlikely join us for a special meeting on August to share as-built details and answer community questions. Stay tuned..


301 S 51st Street (apartments on site of a currently abandoned car service garage in the interior of the block). A zoning permit was issued in 2019; a building permit has not been due to non-compliance with the fire code. The developer expects to postpone its hearing with the Philadelphia Board of Safety and Fire Prevention for the foreseeable future as they continue discussion with Neighbors for Healthy Community Development on a number of subjects.


4900 Spruce Street (150 apartments on a former parking lot). Construction continues. Developer expects the project to be complete by about February of 2022. Pre-leasing expected to begin in January.


4701 Pine Street (220 apartments in a 6-story addition over the garage adjacent to the Garden Court Plaza). Structural work in the garage is expected to begin in this month, with construction to begin in earnest in the fall once construction drawings are finished and contracting bids are received.



4. March Garden Court real estate activity report


RCOs like GCCA are called upon to discuss development proposals requiring variances or civic design review, but those represent a small fraction of real estate activity in any month. In the interest of staying informed of the bigger picture, GCCA Zoning is putting together a monthly report of permits issued (including by-right zoning), homes sales, and apartment rentals in the neighborhood. This is being posted here so neighbors get information without needing to attend the meeting. Special thanks to committee member, Chris Mejia-Smith, with help from Keyana Johnson, for pulling together this information from a variety of sources.


By Right Permits over the last month

  • 521 S 46th St: Currently designated as Multi-family residential. Of the three floors, we (the owners) are currently occupying the top two floors and one other family is occupying the first floor rental unit. We would like to change the use designation to "Two-family residential" as only two families are occupying the property and will be in perpetuity.

Recent Sales

Of note (in bold below): the Sylvania Gardens apartment building on the northwest corner of 48th and Pine Streets sold for the first time since twenty years (last sold in 2001 for $1.2M). The sale price per square foot is generally consistent with the cost of new construction. GCCA Zoning informed the tenants union of the sale and the union may advise existing tenants of their rights.

  • 244 S 45th St: $825k ($308/sqft)

  • 4618 Osage Ave: $953k ($318/sqft)

  • 34 University Mews: $545k ($370/sqft)

  • 39 University Mews: $425k ($289/sqft)

  • 14 University Mews: $550k ($374/sqft)

  • 4517 Osage Ave: $614k ($392/sqft)

  • 437 Pine St Unit D405: $280k ($223/sqft)

  • 414 S 48th St (Sylvania Gardens): $7.9m ($253/sqft)

  • 4815 Osage Ave: $459k ($281/sqft)

  • 4835 Osage Ave: $459k ($240/sqft)



The charts below shows median sale prices (and prices per square foot) in Garden Court as a whole, and median sale price organized by school catchment. While increasing sale prices clearly coincide with the announcement and opening of Penn Alexander, the largest increase in sale volumes occurs later, when Philadelphia reassessed property values.






The chart below uses the median square footage of home sales for all of Garden Court, multiplies it by the median price per square foot for each subregion, and divides the result by 2.5 (which is a common rule of thumb for determining how much home someone can afford). This infers what household income is required to purchase a home in our neighborhood, and is compared to the AMI for Philadelphia County and the 3rd Council District (data is from the ACS).





The chart below shows median rents for listed apartments of various sizes. As we continue to collect this data, we will see which trends emerge to inform our understanding of the rental market in Garden Court.