A COMMUNITY GROUP that has gardened on vacant lots in Grays Ferry for 60 years won court approval on Tuesday to halt the sheriff sale of two lots that were scheduled to be sold Wednesday.

"This is a real victory for the community," said Amy Laura Cahn, a lawyer who represents the Central Club for Boys and Girls.

Cahn said Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker ordered the sale postponed for six months. During that time, Cahn said, the Central Club hopes to get approval of its tax-exempt status from the city Office of Property Assessment.

Cahn said the IRS already granted tax-exempt status to the club, incorporated in 1947.

But to get all back taxes forgiven, Cahn said, the group has to ask that the exemption be applied retroactively. That decision will be made by the Bureau of Revision of Taxes.

"I'm elated," said Stanley Wilson, son of the club's late founder, Mabel Wilson. "That gives me six months to knock on doors" to get more support for the petition.

The Central Club took title to eight vacant lots in the 2500 block of Alter Street in 2008.

"We have doctors, lawyers, airline pilots who have come through this organization," Wilson said. "We have teachers, preachers, nurses, every profession represented. And out of the many people our Central Club have served, not even one-tenth of 1 percent have had any legal problems, any drug or gang problems, because they left that organization with a solid foundation for living." n

Contact Valerie Russ at 215-854-5987 or russv@phillynews.com.