September 8 GCCA Zoning Meeting

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


Meeting Agenda:

  • 1. Zoning cases: 5030 Spruce Street

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

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

  • Public Comment

  • Committee Working Session (closed)

  • Next Meeting: October 13 (will include a variance case regarding a proposal for a surface parking lot at 4932-59 Spruce Street on the 50th Street frontage of The Terrace Apartments)


1. 5030 Spruce Street variance request.



The property in question is an existing 3.5 twin. The property zoned RSA-3, a single-family district which requires one parking space per unit; the applicant is seeking to permit a two-family use without parking. The permit refusal by the Department of Licenses and Inspections is shown below for reference.


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




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.


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. The developer may join us for a special meeting later this fall to share as-built details and answer any 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. No update.


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). Construction expected to begin in earnest this fall once construction drawings are finished and contracting bids are received.



3. July/August 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

  • 4701 Pine Street - Erection of a (1) story addition and outdoor roof deck above an existing 13 story residential tower. The existing passenger elevator hoist way will be modified to include a new stop for residents to access the addition and roof deck.

  • 4614 Spruce St - THE EXISTING FIVE (5) STORY 44'-2 3/4" HIGH SEMI-DETACHED STRUCTURE WITH FOUR (4) RESIDENTIAL DWELLING UNITS WILL HAVE A FOUR (4) STORY 37'-6" HIGH (38'-0" MAXIMUM) REAR ADDITION AND BE CONVERTED INTO AN ATTACHED STRUCTURE WITH EIGHT (8) RESIDENTIAL DWELLING UNITS AS PER THE ZONING SITE PLAN/ELEVATIONS TO INCLUDE SIDE AND REAR BALCONIES/ROOF DECKS WITH TWO (2) ROOF DECK ACCESS PILOT HOUSES; ONE LOCATED AT THE REAR OF THE EXISTING 5TH FLOOR AND THE OTHER ONE ABOVE THE PROPOSED REAR ADDITION; ALL NEW FLAT ROOFS WILL BE BORDERED BY 42" PARAPET WALLS ALONG THEIR PERIMETER

  • 502 S 45th St - REMOVAL OF EXISTING REAR DECK AND CONSTRUCTION OF NEW DECK WITH LARGER FOOTPRINT. NEW COLUMNS ADDED FOR STRUCTURAL SYSTEM

Recent Sales

  • 16 Homes sold over the 2 month period with a median price of $565k

  • 2 homes sold for more than $1m:

  • 257-259 S 46th St: $1.4m

  • 4618 Hazel: $1.1m

  • The least expensive home sold was a unit in the GC Condos for $232k ($256/sqft)

  • Overall Community Price Changes

  • Median Price of a Home Sold: $480,000

  • 13.4% increase since last year

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

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


The charts below shows median sale prices (and prices per square foot) in Garden Court as a whole over the last ten and forty years, indicating the opening of Penn Alexander and the implementation of AVI (reassessment of properties for taxing purposes) in the latter. 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).



Rental Listings


  • Rents are increasing across all categories in Garden Court (1 Bedrooms saw a slight dip since last month, but is up compared to early this year)

  • The number of listings seems to indicate that Summer is a slow season for rental turnover

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



The chart below shows median rents for listed apartments of various sizes as tracked since GCCA Zoning began its monthly real estate reports i