Committee approves development plans for historic property at 40th & Pine

The Architecture Committee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission voted Tuesday morning to approve the design plans for Azalea Gardens, a 122-unit apartment complex planned for the historic property at 40th and Pine streets.

The application for final approval from the University of Pennsylvania and developer Jonathan Weiss was “very similar” to one approved on a preliminary basis by the committee more than two years ago, according to the Commission director Jonathan Farnham. The updated design incorporated a number of suggestions of the committee, Farnham said, including reducing the number of balconies. Farnham recommended the application for approval.

Paul Boni, an attorney who represents a group of homeowners and owners of nearby rental properties, told the committee simply that his clients continue to object to the project.

The committee voted unanimously to approve the design plans.

The property is the subject of two legal battles with the same sides in each. Boni’s clients—the Woodland Terrace Homeowners Association, Constellar Corporation, and Maryann Kurmlavage—are appealing both the granting of variances for the planned development and the permit to demolish the existing historic structure.

The demolition appeal is heading to the Commonwealth Court. Meanwhile, Court of Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler affirmed the variances for multifamily use of the property but remanded the case to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for more argument on the dimensional variances.

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