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November 10 GCCA Zoning Meeting

Garden Court Community Association has a regularly scheduled Zoning and Development Committee meeting at 8pm on Wednesday, November 10th. We are still meeting virtually, via Zoom; log-in detail are at the bottom of this post.

Meeting Agenda:

  • 1. Zoning cases: None, but one update

  • 2. Report: any status updates for ongoing projects of significance

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

  • Public Comment

  • Committee Working Session (closed)

  • Next Meeting: December 8th

1. Zoning cases: none, but one update

Last month, the committee heard a variance case for a proposed parking lot at the Terrace Apartments at 4931-4959 Spruce Street, on the portion of the property front on on 50th Street. Both public (0-8) and committee (0-13) polls on the project resulted in unanimous opposition. The committee sent a letter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) summarizing the meeting and explaining the committee's opposition to a variance the letter is linked below.

Meeting Summary - 4931-4959 Spruce Street
Download PDF • 54KB

The project was on the ZBA's October agenda, but was granted a continuance because the applicant had failed to submit required material in time for the meeting. The case is expected to be heard at the ZBA's January or February meeting.

2. 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.

(25 apartments via adaptive re-use of the Good Shepherd Community Church building and erection of a new building on site). With the exception of the facade, the exterior of the structure is about complete. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2021. In accordance with the agreement reached with GCCA in 2019, the developer has consulted with GCCA to finalize its landscape plan; the result, which included input from members of the community garden and the West Philly native plants and pollinators group, will include an all-native mix of foundations plants and perennials.

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 owners are in discussion with Neighbors for Healthy Community Development and have engaged the Light of Elmwood Lodge.

(150 apartments on a former parking lot). Construction continues. Developer expects the project to be complete by late winter of 2022. Leasing expected to begin in February for occupancy in April. Neighbors on 49th Street and St. Bernard have expressed frustration with various practices of the construction company, including time of work, staging on sidewalks and the rear alley, etc. They have made complaints to the Department of Licenses and Inspections and engaged the Councilperson's Office, which plans to mediate a discussion with the developer.

(220 apartments in a 6-story addition over the garage adjacent to the Garden Court Plaza). Structural work in the garage has begun and construction bids are expected before the end of the year, with construction beginning in earnest in early 2022.

4700 Block of Spruce Street

Permits for demolition of buildings on this block including the 1-story retail and auto repair shop) have been filed; permits are valid until 3 March 2022. As of 24 September 2021, the permit-holder and the owners of the auto repair shop remain in litigation over ownership and sale of the property.

3. September 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. Trends are shown and discussed on a quarterly basis. Special thanks to committee member, Chris Mejia-Smith for pulling together this information from a variety of sources.

By Right Permits over the last month
  • 10/14/21: 617 S 48th St. - Reduction from Three-Family to a Two-Family Dwelling

Recent Sales

Six homes sold at a median price of 538K and $226/sf.

  • 4915 Hazel Ave: $595k ($238/sqft)

The Redfin map below shows homes listed for $250K or less (affordable for families earning the median income for Philadelphia, assuming no income-generating apartment). Two noteworthy observations are that 1. there are, effectively, no affordable houses for sale east of 52nd Street and south of Haverford Avenue and; 2. west of 52nd Street houses have been renovated and prices have risen substantially over the last five years.

Various Rents across Garden Court (via,, and

Details for Joining the Meeting:

Time:  November 10th, 2021 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

or dial in to: +1-646-558-8656 or +1-301-715-8592 additional numbers at: Meeting ID: 919 7912 4404 Passcode: GCCAzoning

Public participants will need to "raise their hand" to be un-muted and ask questions or make comment. GCCA Zoning's regular rules of decorum will apply.

Get involved.

As always, our meetings are public and open for anyone to attend; if you are interested in receiving email updates from the Zoning Committee, or are interested in joining when there is an opening, please email - not yet a GCCA member? Join here! Our geographic boundaries are 45th Street, Cedar Avenue, 52nd Street, and Locust.



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