Material Culture cafe proposal among three plans being considered by East Falls zoning committee

The zoning committee of the East Falls Community Council is considering whether to support a trio of variance applications.

At its meeting Wednesday night, the committee heard details on three plans: the creation of a sit-down cafe inside the Material Culture store on Wissahickon Avenue; the conversion of a Midvale Avenue house into an office and apartments, and the extension of a the kitchen on a Queen Lane home.

A planned discussion of the final signage plan for the Falls Center will now be heard at the committee’s June meeting. See the sign plan here

The owner of Material Culture, the cavernous 33,000 home furnishings store and auction site located in a former industrial building at 4700 Wissahickon Ave., is seeking a variance to create a small restaurant inside his retail space — think IKEA’s cafeteria, but without the Swedish meatballs.

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Eileen Quigley, attorney for Material Culture owner George Jevremovic, said food would be prepared off-site and brought in for sale on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. Menu items would be served on non-disposable dishes, avoiding trash from take-out food, and no alcohol would be served, she said.

The cafe would take up about 300 square feet of space, have fewer than 30 seats, and isn’t meant to be a destination unto itself, Jevremovic said. “It’s a large store, and people come in, they spend a few hours shopping, and they get really hungry,” he said.

The application is scheduled for a hearing before the zoning board of adjustment at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, at 1515 Arch St., 18th floor.

On Midvale Avenue, property owner Roberta Ginsburg is seeking a variance to convert a six-bedroom house at 3709 Midvale Ave. into two apartments and an office space. The property is zoned for single-family residential use, though Ginsburg said she has a rental license and has rented parts of the large house at different points.

The second residence within the house would have its own entrance on the side of the building, as well as its own full bathroom, but would not have a full kitchen, Ginsberg said. Her hearing date is not set.

The third case the zoning committee considered involves a home at 3328 W. Queen Lane, where the owners want to extend their kitchen. Because their property includes two parcels, and the extension would violate the rear-yard setback of the adjacent lot, now a garden, owners Randolph and Virginia Smith need a zoning variance. Their hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 30.

The zoning committee met in a private session after the presentations to consider the applications. Their decisions were not immediately available.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at

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