Land use, infrastructure, and a Roosevelt Boulevard subway: Candidates talk development at Philly mayoral forum

All six candidates participating in the BUILD Philly forum backed a plan for a subway along Roosevelt Boulevard if the money were available.

Mayoral candidates on stage

Six mayoral candidates answer questions about their plans for infrastructure, land use, and development in Philadelphia during a forum hosted by BUILDPhilly at the Kimmel Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Six of the candidates vying to become Philadelphia’s next mayor took part in a forum on Tuesday focused on infrastructure and development.

BUILD Philly, a new coalition of professional organizations and nonprofits that concentrate on the city’s built environment, urban, infrastructure, land use, and development, hosted the 90-minute debate.

Tya Winn and Rebecca Johnson sitting at a table
Tya Winn (left), Executive Director of the Community Design Collaborative, and Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects, moderate a forum for mayoral candidates hosted by BUILDPhilly at the Kimmel Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Former City Councilmember Helen Gym talked about the need to improve equity when it comes to development in Philly. “That means setting clear goals around procurement and use of contracting on jobsites,” she said.

Former City Councilmember Derek Green spoke about how curbing violence would help boost business in the city. “As a former assistant district who was once racially profiled while leaving the DA’s office, I know we have to address the issue by reducing gun violence,” he said.

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Allan Domb, also a former City Council member, joined Green in saying that finding solutions to violence in the city will help move the city forward. “We have to get that under control to do everything else,” Domb said. “I’m just putting it out there that that is the most important issue for all of us.”

Former City Councilmember María Quiñones Sánchez said that city government needs to better coordinate its efforts to move Philadelphia forward. “That to me is the lack of leadership around people checking off boxes as opposed to connecting boxes,” she said. “We need to create one stop, one entry point where we’re all of the permitting process moves forward because 150 steps to open a restaurant establishment in the city of Philadelphia. That, to me, is the lack of leadership.”

Grocer Jeff Brown agreed on the need to streamline the system. “I want everything you can do with the city to be able to be done online,” he said.

The six candidates, which also included former Philadelphia Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, all expressed interest in building a subway along Roosevelt Boulevard if money were available. They all also expressed opposition to rent control.

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