The Philadelphia zoning board approved a small set of variances Wednesday for the development of 25 new single-family town homes in Bella Vista, at the corner of 8th and Montrose, where the same applicant recently finished a row of houses in the same three-story, red brick style just across the street.
The plan, which was revised after the applicant went through Civic Design Review to incorporate more landscaping features, calls for condensing 14 lots into one. The site in question currently is home to an awning-covered parking lot, a handful of row houses, and a former 7-UP facility. It is zoned CMX-2 and RSA-5, and the developer plans to demolish the existing buildings.
According to testimony from Hercules Grigos, an attorney for the developer, the houses will be between 1,900 and 2,100 square feet each, and will face on the 800 block of Carpenter and Montrose streets and the 900 block of south 8th Street. One 21-foot curb cut on Montrose Street will lead to 25 off-street parking spaces surrounded by the development on three sides. An earlier plan called for 24 houses, but in response to suggestions from community members, architects at JKR Partners added a two-story “carriage house” above the entrance to the parking area. The area of the combined lot is just over 33,000 square feet, according to Grigos. The project is called Mildred Court.
Also on Wednesday, the zoning board approved variances for the proposed construction of a 276-unit apartment complex at 38th and Chestnut street, on property owned by the Episcopal Cathedral. The project, which involves the demolition of a few brownstone buildings on the site, was previously approved by the Historical Commission. According to attorney Neil Sklaroff, the project should have been able to proceed by right under the old zoning code and pursuant to a bill introduced by 3rd-District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, but an L&I plan examiner refused it based on the new code.
Sklaroff said that Blackwell had reintroduced the rezoning bill and that it was passed out of the Rules Committee before Council went on summer recess. But, he said, the developer cannot wait until Council reconvenes in the fall to get zoning and building permits, so they had to go to the zoning board.
The board approved the zoning application, with the proviso that the developers add 30 more bicycle parking spaces, to bring the total to 92.
Jared Brey is a freelance reporter based in Philadelphia. His work has been featured in Philadelphia magazine, Hidden City, The Philadelphia Inquirer, City & State, and other publications. He covered development, zoning policy, historic preservation, and city government for PlanPhilly from 2011-2016.