Burned-out building at 46th and Spruce back before zoning committee

April 14, 2016


The developers who want to build a 21-unit apartment building at 46th and Spruce make another presentation at the Spruce Hill zoning committee last night.

The owners of the property that includes a burned-out building at the corner of 46th and Spruce were back in front of the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) zoning committee last night with their plans for a new 21-unit apartment building that had many nearby residents concerned about parking and aesthetics.

The proposed brick and metal panel building at 4534-36 Spruce St. would include 21 mostly two-bedroom apartments, ground-floor retail and a rooftop deck. The developers need several variances from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, including one to build 21 units and another for the building’s height – 44 feet.

A point of contention between some nearby neighbors and the property’s owner is over whether the site, which is actually several smaller parcels, is where an apartment building should be allowed regardless of size. It is zoned for single-family duplexes and minimal retail. But the property owners are arguing that the current building, which was most recently a transitional housing facility and at one point a small grocery store, and the construction of apartment buildings on adjacent properties have long ago made that designation practically obsolete. 

Other neighbors have been worried about parking. Property owner Ricky Liss, an attorney in the city, said last night that he has agreed with the owners of the Garden Court Plaza parking garage on the 4700 block of Spruce Street to lease 21 parking spots and make them available to tenants for little or no cost.

SHCA’s zoning committee had not yet issued a decision on whether they will support the proposal when it goes before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

A 2011 fire gutted the current structure, a transitional housing facility. The building has been vacant since the fire.

A plan to build affordable housing on the location fell through last summer after Mission First Housing Group was unable to secure funding for the project.

Mike Lyons

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Michael Lynch Says:

    I applaud the developer for working to resolve the parking issue.

    I hope that the agreement with Garden Court can be forged into a permanent verifiable contractual agreement, and not just a temporary plan designed to thwart the neighbors’ protests while construction is ongoing.

    Instead of a long term lease which might eventually expire, the purchase of reserved parking spaces in the garage seems like a good way to solve this question.

    There may be other ways that I can’t imagine.

    I hope Garden Court and the developer can find a mutually satisfactory way to accomplish this.

  2. wen Says:

    Mission First bought this building. They tried working with everyone in the neighborhood to build 21 1 bedroom units for independently living disabled, seniors and vets. There would have been set-back, there wouldn’t have been parking issues. ONE neighbor said they would fight ANY zoning approval. So Mission First couldn’t get funding because they couldn’t get zoning approval. Instead of having long-term, quiet, supportive of the neighborhood and neighborhood businesses and being invested in the neighborhood, you’re going to end up with more over-priced student housing – and they’re talking about a roof deck so they can party all summer, throw beer cans and whatever else off the deck, play that music so loud your windows will be shaking … hope those who were against Mission First are happy now.

    WPL even did a poll, and all the responses were to have that re-built as affordable housing for disabled and vets.

  3. Maureen Says:

    First of all who would want to park their car 2 blocks away and have to pay for that. West philly should require new residences to have underground parking. ALso, don’t trust that there will be parking available at Garden Court – they were bought by Post Brothers and if they start renovating parking may be at a real premium. Seriously enough with this concept of retail space on the ground floor of apartments buildings, just how many Verizon, Sprint, etc stores do we need!!

  4. Mary McGettigan Says:

    46th and Spruce owner will present his appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday at 2:00PM at 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor. For the latest on their revised plans:

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