"Spruce Hill Community Association"

Mayor Kenney to talk about Provident Insurance building’s future at SHCA’s annual meeting on Tuesday

Posted on 13 November 2017 by

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney will be a featured speaker at an upcoming Spruce Hill Community Association’s annual meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Penn Alexander School Cafeteria (43rd and Locust). The mayor will address the future of the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building at 4601 Market (pictured).

The site was chosen by former mayor Michael Nutter administration for the new police headquarters and has been undergoing renovations since 2014. But, the Kenney administration canceled the plans to relocate the Police Headquarters to the site in the spring of 2017. In August, the city began seeking a new developer for the siteContinue Reading

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Meet Penn Alexander School’s new principal at Spruce Hill Community Association annual meeting on Nov. 15

Posted on 04 November 2016 by Mike Lyons

Community members are invited to attend the big annual meeting of the Spruce Hill Community Association on Nov. 15 at the Penn Alexander School (43rd and Locust).logo-wide

Penn Alexander’s new principal, Michael Farrell, will address the meeting, which will be held in the school’s cafeteria. Farrel took over from founding principal Sheila Sydnor this fall. Read more about him here.

SHCA board members will also present the association’s activities over the year during the meeting and hold elections for a new board. Eric Santoro, SHCA’s current president, is running unopposed for a second one-year term. Election will also be held for four other officer positions and 10 board posts. Biographical information for those running will be available at the meeting.

Light snacks and refreshments will be served beginning at 7 p.m., and the meeting will start at 7:30 p.m.

Membership in SHCA is open to everyone. Dues are $20 per year.

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Resolution passes to extend Spruce Hill zoning authority to include USciences building plans (updated)

Posted on 13 April 2016 by Mike Lyons

wilson school

USciences unveiled plans to build a large dormitory on the site of the former Alexander Wilson School at a public meeting last month.

UPDATE (April 14, 2016): After reading this post, SHCA zoning chair Barry Grossbach wrote to clarify the new boundaries. He wrote:

“Read your description of our proposed boundary expansion and it might be a bit misleading. It suggests that we are expanding into neighborhoods south of Woodland Avenue. To the contrary, we specifically said that we did NOT want to encroach on West Shore, and that our concern was to have some say on development on the south side of Woodland Avenue. There are specific criteria that City Planning has to use in drawing RCO boundaries, so they followed the procedure that imposes the most minimal intrusion into any residential area ( a block or two adjacent to USciences campus).  Almost all of what would be designated as West Shore is NOT included in this proposed expansion.”

The Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) passed a resolution on Tuesday night that extends its jurisdiction as a “registered community organization” (RCO) to the neighborhoods south of Woodland Avenue. That means it now will likely weigh in on important zoning issues along Woodland, including the University of the Sciences’ plans to build a large dormitory complex on the site of the former Alexander Wilson school at 46th and Woodland.

RCOs are in place around Philadelphia to facilitate public debate over proposed development and while their recommendations are not binding, they are considered during Zoning Board of Adjustment hearings.

SHCA zoning chair Barry Grossbach told the organization’s board last night that the city’s Planning Commission supports the boundary extension. The commission will have to approve the resolution.

SHCA’s boundaries as an RCO, which had previously stopped at the northern side of Woodland Avenue, will extend south to the train tracks south of the USciences’ campus. USciences plans to construct several buildings over the next decade or so and it has been unclear which RCOs would consider the proposals.

Mike Lyons

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Spruce Hill committee pledges help for Studio 34’s zoning woes and neighbors’ concerns

Posted on 24 April 2015 by Mike Lyons


Studio 34 needs a “nightclub” permit to keep hosting large events like the City Kitties benefit auction pictured here. Photo from City Kitties.

A couple of dozen supporters of Studio 34, the yoga and arts space at 4522 Baltimore Ave., breathed a collective sigh of relief last night when the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee vowed to help figure out a way to get the studio compliant with city codes.

Studio 34 needs a “nightclub” permit to continue to hold events like dance recitals and art shows that it has held since it opened eight years ago. A few residents who live near the studio are concerned that if Studio 34 vacates the building one day (it has a 20-year lease) the nightclub permit might be used to open an actual nightclub. The building’s owner also owns the nearby Fiesta Pizza.

The ordeal began a couple of years ago when an organization rented Studio 34 to host a large event. They set up a bunch of folding chairs, but didn’t leave an aisle, a code violation. Later a city inspector came around and suggested that Studio 34 needed a special permit to hold large events that weren’t part of its core mission as a yoga studio. Since another part of its mission is providing community space for all sorts of events, Studio 34’s co-owners have decided to pursue the permit.

“We just want to do it above board,” said co-owner Jim Peniston.

The zoning committee committed to helping Studio 34 and nearby residents figure out a way to get the permit, but have some limits placed on it. For example, there could be a stipulation that the permit has an expiration date.

“No one is anything but complimentary about what you guys are doing,” said zoning committee chair Barry Grossbach.

While no decision was made at last night’s meeting, the board promised to be supportive of Studio 34’s efforts while reassuring neighbors that they won’t someday live near a rollicking, nighttime hot spot.

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Limited free Spruce Hill Association membership offered

Posted on 06 May 2013 by WPL

SpruceHill_logoIf you live in the area between Market Street and Woodland Avenue and between 38th and 46th Streets (see map here) read on. For a limited time, the Spruce Hill Community Association is offering new members the first year of membership for free, no strings attached. Upon request from SHCA we are publishing their official statement regarding the membership drive:

SHCA is dedicated to serving the community, and we want you to get involved with us. We work on issues that matter – education, zoning, clean-ups, neighborhood plans, public safety. We put on great events like the annual May Fair and the Halloween Parade. And our communications keep members in the loop about community news and events.

To apply, please email Richard Guffanti at with your name, address, and phone number(s).

For more information about SHCA and what it does, visit the Spruce Hill Community Association website.

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Outreach effort to begin on proposed building at 43rd and Baltimore

Posted on 24 April 2013 by Annamarya Scaccia

43rd&BaltimoreThe firm behind the proposed residential housing project at 43rd and Baltimore will soon begin to seek community input, including the launch of a forum-like website, according to a letter from the chair of the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee.

We first reported on the 92-unit residential complex proposed for the vacant lot at the corner of 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue, across from Clark Park, a month ago. Since publishing the story, a lively discussion on what this development would mean for West Philly took off, with a number of residents emailing concerns to Barry Grossbach, chair of the Spruce Hill Zoning Committee. Grossbach recently addressed those questions in a statement released by the Spruce Hill Community Association.

“Here is what we know. The property owners sought, and were given, a ‘conditional’ zoning permit subject to design committee approval by City Planning,” writes Grossbach. “The site, currently zoned Rm1 under the new code, does not require any parking as part of any multifamily development. This is particularly important to understand given the emails insisting that Spruce Hill not allow this lack of parking to stand. The plans submitted by the owners meet the requirements of the code under Rm1 zoning, and lamenting the lack of parking will not address those concerns in a meaningful way. A ‘conditional’ permit is good for one year, and the clock does not start ticking on any time schedule until the owners seek to change ‘conditional’ to ‘permanent.’”

According to Grossbach’s statement, before seeking that change, the property owner, Clarkmore LP, controlled by Thylan Associates, has enlisted the help of U3 Ventures, a local real estate advisory and development firm, to engage the community in fostering alternative design plans. The process, writes Grossbach, will include a series of insightful roundtables with residents, and the creation of (which is not yet up and running), a website dedicated to the project news and information. The plan is for the website to feature an online discussion forum moderated by “Spruce Hill community members” where residents can express qualms about issues ranging from “building size to parking concerns,” according to Grossbach’s letter. The development team will not edit the forum’s content, but will participate in the discussion.

The development group will also have a table at the Spruce Hill Community Association May Fair on May 11.

“Many of us in Spruce Hill have looked at 43rd and Baltimore with a mixture of apprehension and hope over these ‘vacant’ years—expecting that something would surface as a development scheme and praying silently that we would not only survive it but applaud it,” writes Grossbach. “We have a unique opportunity here…We have the chance to think big and bold and, hopefully, find that sweet spot in shaping development for a site that both community members and property owners applaud without reservation.”

– Annamarya Scaccia


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