Large Mixed-Use Building Coming to 49th & Spruce?

You may remember five years ago when we reported about the sad state of an apartment building known as The Croydon. In 2012, we enthusiastically reported that this old beauty would finally be restored and filled with residents by a partnership between Orens Brothers, Hillel Tsarfati and Kfir Binnfeld.

Finally, at the beginning of 2014, we reported that the developers were in the home stretch of the project. The building consisted of 127 one, two, and three bedroom units, with prices ranging anywhere from $850 to $1600 a month. This is actually a pretty affordable price point compared to units further east.

The (finished) Croydon, seen from the southwest

Realizing their success in this project, the Tsarfati and Binnfeld partnership are working on a new project at 4900 Spruce St., which is diagonally across from The Croydon. Currently a parking lot meant to serve the residents of The Croydon, the owners bought the property from the City in 2014 for $310K.

The property from the corner of 49th and Spruce Streets

Each spot in this parking lot goes for $50 a month for residents (or anyone else wanting to use the lot). The developers have indicated that only 21 of these spots are currently being used by residents, and the majority of the lot has no real use.

A few cars and food trucks occupy this disheveled lot

A giant shipping container takes up multiple spaces

Terrace Apartments are across the street, diagonal of the property

An empty lot and an apartment building are immediately across Spruce Street

As you can begin to see in the pictures, the lot is surrounded by a mix of 4-5 story apartment buildings and shorter rowhomes in the immediate blocks. The developers are proposing a 9 story mixed-use building here with retail spaces on the bottom facing Spruce Street, and 160 apartments. There will also be 44 spaces of parking in the back of the first floor of the building. The apartments will be a mix of studios, one, and two bedroom units, and will be priced similarly to the Croydon. Although Spruce Street may not necessarily be known as a commercial corridor, the proposed retail at this section of the street actually fits in really well with the blocks to the east of the property.

A lot of commercial uses on Spruce Street, east of 49th Street

The proposed building, courtesy of UC Review

Nine stories is a lot to propose at this site, especially considering the fact that the zoning on this lot allows a 3.5 story building with 100% lot coverage. At the same time, it's not without precedent. The Croydon itself is 8 stories at its tallest, and a few blocks east is Garden Court Plaza, which rises 13 stories. The University City Review article which covered a preliminary neighborhood meeting said that a number of stakeholders in the neighborhood had positive reviews of the plan. If we know anything about reporting on this subject though, we’re going to guess this project could run into some serious hurdles once they actually start meeting with local RCO, the Garden Court Community Association.

We’re guessing that the developers know this and that they’re willing to change the plan, whether it means making the building a few stories shorter, or including more parking, in order to get the RCO’s support. We’re also thinking that the RCO may voice some disdain for the design since it would stick out like a contemporary sore thumb in a neighborhood with legitimate architectural character. Either way, we’re looking forward to seeing how or if this development will proceed. Here’s to hoping that, in some shape, it does.