October 13th GCCA Zoning Meeting

Garden Court Community Association has a regularly scheduled Zoning and Development Committee meeting at 8pm on Wednesday, October 13th. We are still meeting virtually, via Zoom; log-in detail are at the bottom of this post.


Meeting Agenda:

  • 1. Zoning Committee members confirmed by GCCA board.

  • 2. Zoning cases: Parking lot at Terrace Apartments, 4931-4959 Spruce Street (50th Street lot)

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

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

  • Public Comment

  • Committee Working Session (closed)

  • Next Meeting: November 10th


1. Zoning Committee members confirmed by GCCA Board


The GCCA's Zoning and Development Committee was established to take on issues related to zoning and development, including performing GCCA's duties to the City of Philadelphia as a Registered Community Organization. As such, 13 members are confirmed by the GCCA board for 2-year terms and serve at its discretion. This past summer, GCCA held an open call for new members to fill four vacant seats. After reviewing applications and conducting interviews, new nominees were confirmed by the Board at its September meeting, together with the nine members electing to continue for another term. As of 20 September 2021 the GCCA Zoning and Development Committee comprises the following (new members underlined):

  1. Leonard Bonarek

  2. Brenda Bonhomme

  3. John Caddell

  4. Victoria Harris

  5. Tammer Ibrahim

  6. Patricia Lavelle

  7. Howard Lowell

  8. Jonas Maciunas, Chair

  9. Chris Mejia-Smith

  10. Cindy Rosenthal

  11. Anurag Sagar

  12. Rory Sweeney

  13. Elyana Tarlow


2. Variance Request: Parking lot at Terrace Apartments, 4931-4959 Spruce Street (50th Street lot).


The property in question is the unbuild portion fronting 50th Street on the north side of the property including the Terrace Apartments. The Terrace was built as Wyngate Hall between 1928 and 1930, at the end of a decade developers building most of Garden Court. The lot in question was then a part of the property of First Reformed Church, which had relocated from Old City in 1925. As late as 1962 (according to historic maps), the lot remained part of the church property. In 1967, First Reformed moved back to Old City and Monumental Baptist Church, one of Philadelphia's historic Black Churches, relocated to 50th and Locust after 122 years at 41st and Ludlow. It is unclear from readily available records when the lot in question was transferred from the church property to the apartment property, but aerial surveys indicate it has never been paved or built upon. Monumental Baptist has owned the northwest corner of 50th and Locust and used it as a parking lot since 1981.


The applicant is proposing the lot described above be paved and landscaped as a parking lot with 21 spaces. The property is zoned RM-1, a multi-family district in which off-street parking is a prohibited use. The permit refusal by the Department of Licenses and Inspections is shown below for reference.


At our meeting, the applicant will present their proposal. Following any clarifying questions from the chair, neighbors 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.



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). 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 recently engaged the Light of Elmwood Lodge.


4900 Spruce Street

(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.


4701 Pine Street

(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

See permit in the real estate activity report below. Starting next month, this property will be a part of GCCA's significant project updates report.



4. 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
  • 9/3/21: 4726-48 Spruce St/301 S 48th St - FOR THE COMPLETE DEMOLITION OF ALL EXISTING BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES, INCLUDING FORMER FUELING CANOPY AND ONE(1) NON-ACCESORY OUTDOOR ADVERTISING SIGN. FOR A LOT ADJUSTMENT TO CREATE ONE (1) LOT (PARCEL A) FROM NINE (9) EXISTING LOTS (4746-48, 4744, 4742, 4734-40, 4732, 4730, 4728, 4726 SPRUCE STREET AND 301 S 48TH STREET). SIZE AND LOCATION AS SHOWN IN THE APPLICATION/PLAN.

  • 9/3/21: 281 S 52nd St - FOR USE AS RETAIL SALE OF CONSUMER GOODS, FOR MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF CONSUMER GOODS, FOR TWO (2) DWELLING UNITS ABOVE IN AN EXISTING STRUCTURE

  • 9/9/21: 277 S 52nd St - COMPLETE DEMOLITION OF AN ATTACHED STRUCTURE

  • 9/9/21: 4640 Spruce St - FOR USE AS A TWO-FAMILY DWELLING

  • 9/27/21: 301-13 S 52nd St - FOR THE REFACING OF EXISTING FREESTANDING SIGN, REFACING EXISTING GAS PUMP SIGNS, ERECTION OF TWO (2) DIRECTIONAL SIGNS (UNDER CANOPY), ERECTION OF THREE (3) STATIC ILLUMINATED CANOPY SIGNS, ONE (1) STATICALLY ILLUMINATED WALL SIGN BELOW THE ROOF LINE OF THE EXISTING DETACHED STRUCTURE. SIZES AND LOCATIONS AS SHOWN IN THE APPLICATION/PLANS. NO CHANGE IN HEIGHT OF EXISTING STRUCTURE.

Recent Sales

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

  • 510 S 49th St: $600k ($212/sqft)

  • 251 S Farragut St: $565k ($206/sqft)

  • 4945 Larchwood Ave: $560k ($365/sqft)

  • 4728 Osage Ave: $517k ($349/sqft)

  • 4835 Osage Ave: $459k (240/sqft)

  • 351 S 47th St Unit B103: $220k ($187/sqft)


Various Rents across Garden Court (via apartments.com, trulia.com, and hotpads.com)
  • 5131 Hazel Ave Studio $890

  • 548 S 48th St 2F Studio $775

  • 4527 Osage Studio $825

  • Pine Tower (4514 Pine St) Studio $1,025

  • 5002 Pine St #4 1BR $1,200

  • Croydon Hall (241 S 49th St) 1BR $1,250

  • 328 S 46th St #4 1BR $900

  • Pine Tower (4514 Pine St) 1BR $1,345

  • 236 S 45th St 1BR $1,175

  • 603 S 52nd St A 2BR $1,300

  • 5100 Spruce St #2 2BR $1,475

  • 5038 Spruce St #4 2BR $1,395

  • The Willows (242 S 49th St) 2BR $896

  • Croydon Hall (241 S 49th St) 2BR $1,500

  • 4744 Hazel Ave #2 2BR $1,300

  • 257 S 46th St #1 2BR $1,750

  • Spruce Square (4534 Spruce ) 2BR $2,025

  • 439 S 46th St B 2BR $1,400

  • 231 S 51st St #5 3BR $1,300

  • The Willows (242 S 49th St) 3BR $1,119

  • 4735 Osage Ave #1 3BR $1,460

  • 5026 Larchwood 4BR $2,600


Trends (these will be presented on a quarterly basis)

Year-to-date home sales

  • Median sale price: 480K

  • 13.4% homes sale price increase since last year

  • 44.4% sale price increase since 2016 (7.6% annual growth over 5 years)

  • 88.6% sale price increase since 2011 (6.6% annual growth over 10 years)




School catchment insights

  • The median home sold in the GLA/Huey catchment is 2,544 sqft, compared to 1,680 sqft in Lea and 1,754 sq in Penn-Alexander

  • The median sale price in Penn-Alexander is $623k, which is 25% higher than GLA and 43% higher than Lea

  • In terms of price-per-square-foot, Penn Alexander commands a median of $324/sqft, which is 35% higher than Lea and 67% higher than GLA

  • At current interest rates (2.90% for a fixed 30yr mortgage), the median income Philadelphia household can afford a $250k home


This chart calculates how much household income is needed to afford (30% of household income) a 2,000 sqft home in the different school catchments of Garden Court, compared to the median county income

Rental Market

  • Studios, 2BRs and 3BRs saw significant reductions since last month, and are back in line with where they were at the beginning of the year; this may indicate that there is a cyclical effect on the market due to the timing of the academic year

  • 1 Bedroom apartments have held steady since August, and are up 26% since the beginning of the year

  • As an income-restricted building, The Willows has been excluded from the charts, which represent the changes in market-rate apartment sector

Median Rent Change vs Prior Month Change Since January

  • Studio $858 -16% 1%

  • 1BR $1,200 1% 26%

  • 2BR $1,438 -10% -2%

  • 3BR $1,380 -32% -12%

  • Listings 21 -28%



The chart below shows median rents for listed apartments of various sizes as tracked since GCCA Zoning began its monthly real estate reports in January of 2021. This data is intended to illustrate trends to inform our understanding of the rental market in Garden Court.





Details for Joining the Meeting:


Time:  October 13th, 2021 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Direct Link: https://upenn.zoom.us/j/91979124404?pwd=Q3pYOFpLenBTQW95Sm9aMTRzRmt3dz09

or dial in to: +1-646-558-8656 or +1-301-715-8592 additional numbers at: https://upenn.zoom.us/u/ahHOJpCyM 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 Zoning@GardenCourtCA.org - not yet a GCCA member? Join here! Our geographic boundaries are 45th Street, Cedar Avenue, 52nd Street, and Locust.


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