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Spruce Hill District

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Frequently Asked



Spruce Hill Historic District
Questions Asked At The April 24 Public Meeting



  • I love the building but I am concerned this will narrow the interesting variety of people here - artist often avoid areas that are over regulated.
  • I am for the district in principle, but am concerned about the details.
  • I'm primarily concerned about how historical designation affects affordability of housing especially for long term low income homeowners and renters? I love old houses but an economic diverse neighborhood is more important to me. I'm concerned with how this fits in with the zoning changes that convert sold properties to single family use and upgrading apartments. It's not okay for this to be a middle class and up only even if its really diverse. Don't support class segregation!
  • This is not an historical society problem but contractors do not want to work in this area because there is no parking and the Philadelphia labor unions can harass them.
  • The New York Times article is unconvincing and uses sp???? logic. Look at Society Hill, Rittenhouse, Fitler Square,Queen Village and tell us gentrification doe not push poor people out of the neighborhood. I lived on Woodland Terrace (historically certified) and it is 99% white and 100% middle/upper middle class. This will also happen in the rest of the proposed district. Those of us who value racial and economic diversity are not being heard and are being answered into patronizing non-answers.
  • I believe that forcing a historical designation on the majority of the proposed area who are minorities is an insult and discriminatory to whom history was egregious and painful. Why can not a Federal anti-discrimination suit be brought?
  • In neighborhoods like Morningside Heights, haven't rents gone up ever ??? lower income people haven't moved out? These people have just been forced to pay more of their income on rent. For me, a $100 increase in my monthly rent would force me to move plus, since I'm a renter, I'd get little benefit from high property values. The neighborhood has improved due to Penn and will continue to improve as long as the minority has an interest in its maintenance.
  • This is an important step for our neighborhood - we need this district to control deterioration and stabilize our neighborhood. We have begun in the last few years to make headway with rehabilitation of the Spruce Hill neighborhood. This is an important tool to maintain the progress we have made. Less robust economic times are coming. We need to be ready with this historic designation.
  • I like my long time neighbors better than I like the exterior of a house so if we or they can not afford historic work, I want them over the architecture. It does not seem feasible unless you have significant income to repair your house in this way and many of us do not who live here.
  • I was concerned about the renters on our street - working people college students and retired people are on fixed income who rent there. We work in our block to keep up the front yards and pick up trash so it remains a good neighborhood. We are close to stores, Laundromats and food markets small and large. We all would like to remain there far in the future.
  • The Spruce Hill area is especially attractive because of its openness, unpretentiousness and vibrant diverse population. The bureaucratic process and often increased costs associated with Historic Designation will turn a lot of people who appreciate the current open minded atmosphere away.
  • Rather than take up time at a crowded meeting, I only want to say I support the Historic District in case you are keeping score.
  • The Hamiltons were slave owners - Indeed let preserve their legacy by forcing people of color out… isn't that the spirit of this whole proposal.
  • The money that is intended for historical preservation would be better spent on improving safety and fixing the streets in and around Spruce Hill including many condemned/dilapidated buildings. Wouldn't this proposal force out many minorities, students, elderly and foreigners who are on a fixed income? Can't this neighborhood be improved without forcing everyone's homes to look authentic.
  • Current owners bought their properties under the current non historically designated status. It isn't fair to change the rules on them now. The historic designation should only take effect when the property is sole to new owners (not to a family member, ex. inherited property)
  • Isn't the unique character with all its diversity of this neighborhood which is being cited as worth preserving really in the harmonious diversity of its residents rather than its bricks and mortar.
  • Through it's longer, I prefer the official name. It is descriptive in a much more complete way. And by naming West Philadelphia, it will be much more recognizable to others in the City and to tourist.
  • The Philadelphia Independent Media Center ( a community media project) is doing a feature on the debate over the Historic District on our web site. We welcome everyone to post their opinions about the designation. Go to http://www.phillyimc.org and click the submit story" at the top of page. Follow the east instructions and post your thoughts in the space for text stories. We will use all submissions as links in our feature.
  • I think those who are for the historic designation should strongly emphasize that the designation will protect development by Penn. Many residents resent Penn for tearing down buildings and areas like dog parks where the new school is.
  • I am in full support of historic district designation. As a homeowner, I believe that character, diversity and historical significance of this neighborhood should absolutely be protected and regulated by the Philadelphia Historic Commission. It is these criteria which originally attracted me to live in the neighborhood and it is these criteria which led me to buy a home here. It would be a shame to destroy any bit of this neighborhood's character and appeal by not approving historic designation. It is important that we value the character and history of the area I which we live; at the same time, it is important to regulate change to the neighborhood which could affect us all. I know I am willing to adhere to such regulations - but as history has shown us, not all are willing (or care) to do so, and therefore it is absolutely necessary to approve the Spruce Hill Historic District so that we might hold on to what we still have left.
  • I strongly desire to have the community preserve what is valuable and irreplaceable in this unique neighborhood. The demolition of our major alterations to historic buildings that are all salvageable should be stopped. Trees should also be protected. Landlords, who often are not residents of the neighborhood, should be prevented from making ill conceived changes to buildings simply to fit as many people into a building at the least cost to themselves. I would not, however want university city to be converted into a Society Hill. I would like to see this neighborhood keep its diverse character by maintaining mixed rents with places for blue collar would be and starving artists as well as professionals. I also believe that residents should have flexibility in expressing personal aesthetics in décor.
  • I am completely for the Historical District I think it will preserve the beauty of the area and keep absentee landlords from doing cheap repairs to unique buildings in our area that deface the authenticity of the Victorian heritage of this area.
  • The entire process, at least at first glance, has a veneer of democracy in that public meetings are held, neighbors are mobilized and discussion increases - But upon further review, the democratic façade vanished - the process concludes with an entirely undemocratic vote by a group with no vested interest in the community rather than by allowing the neighborhood the right to self-determination. Many of the buildings whose in the slide show have been taken over (bought) by the very institutions the speaker claimed the designation would protect us from. Are we preserving buildings for the benefit of these entities?

Many of these questions address very specific situations. Without knowing the subject property's address or having photographs showing the existing conditions, it is difficult to give answers that take into account every instance that may occur on every building. If you have any follow-up questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Historical Commission directly at 215-686-7660.

The questions were grouped into broad categories. Click the category to see that group of questions and answers.

Technical | Building Permit Application Process | Designation Process
Enforcement | Tax Incentives & Economic Hardship | Impact
Neighborhood Transformation Initiative | University of Pennsylvania
Ethics | Comment
return to April 24 Meeting Questions start page