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Imagine what Philadelphia could look like in 2035.

How to continue creating that civic-driven vision was the emphasis of the opening presentation at the Zoning Code Commission meeting Wednesday morning.

Philadelphia City Planning Commission member Alan Urek, who is heading up the Imagine Philadelphia: Laying the Foundation program, reminded members of the Zoning Code Commission that the primary purpose of Imagine Philadelphia is to lay the foundation for a long overdue citywide comprehensive plan.

And that starts with plenty of time listening to the public and getting feedback through public outreach sessions. “The purpose is to get people to weigh in on matters that will affect Philadelphia for the next 25 to 30 years,” Urek said.
Imagine Philadelphia wants to help create a Philadelphia that is more welcoming and more attractive for people to live and work in. “We (Philadelphia) are no longer the industrial capital of the world,” Urek said explaining the new thinking going on about a different model for the city and its relationship with other regional players. On that note Urek mentioned that the region – for this exercise – is defined by a 12-county MSA that includes the Trenton MSA, Salem, N.J., New Castle, Del. and Cecil County in Maryland. 

So far Imagine Philadelphia’s civic engagement has identified quality of life issues such as retaining major employers, improving and extending the public transportation system, making the waterfront a more public and friendly space, creating a car-free center city, and using more green technology.

The next immediate step that the project will take is producing a series of white papers on best practices around urban design, parks and outside space, housing, transportation, preservation, and economic development. Urek said that the policy papers would help the project, “move forward and embark on the comprehensive plan.”
If you are interested in news about the Imagine Philadelphia effort please visit for up-to-date meeting information. You can E-mail the team at

In other news:


ZCC member Peter Kelsen broke some news during the Workplan Group Report.

Kelsen told the Zoning Code Commissioners that Clarion Associates and Duncan Associates teamed up and put in a winning bid to take on the consulting work of strategically helping the ZCC develop a new zoning code.

Clarion and Duncan were chosen from a field of five companies. “They were unbelievably excited to be able to help the city of Philadelphia in this effort to create a new city zoning code,” Kelsend said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to retain Clarion and Duncan, who will work on the First Phase of the rezoning. The consultants for the second phase, the remapping of the city, will be chosen through a separate bidding process.

– Isaac Steinberg



Green’s bill on preserving historic interior space passes out of rules committee
After almost two hours of testimony by three panels, including law and preservation experts, City Councilman Bill Green’s legislation that could save the interior space of structures like the Boyd Theatre passed out of the rules committee and will be heard by the full council following the summer recess.

If passed, Green’s legislation would empower the city’s Historical Commission to designate interior spaces to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

Right now, the city’s historic preservation ordinance only empowers the Historical Commission to protect exteriors, a limitation enforced by a state Supreme Court ruling about the Boyd back in 1993.

Preservation Alliance Director John Gallery said it is crucial that the bill give the Historical Commission purview over historic interior spaces that were customarily open or accessible to the public by invitation or otherwise.

He also lectured council – once again – about the Historical Commission’s severe lack of funding, warning that enforcing Green’s bill would add work to an organization that is unable to clear the deck of assignments now.

The Historical Commission plans to study the bill’s rules and regulations – in an advisory capacity – this summer prior to a full council hearing.

City Council bill
City Council Bill 080381, which was introduced by First District councilman Frank DiCicco, originally called for a C4 to C2 zoning switch for the area bounded by Front Street, Delaware Avenue, Poplar Street and Spring Garden Street.

That is the project area for the now stalled 700 N. Delaware gambit by Hoboken Brownstone developer Danny Gans.

Well, the Planning Commission failed to recommend that zoning change – based on community outcry and the fact that forces are mounting for a total remapping of the Central Delaware Waterfront.

So yesterday in city council DiCicco proposed an amendment to the original bill that would take the C4 zoning back to its original G2 (industrial).

The rules committee adopted the amendment and the bill was reported out of committee unanimously.

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