Mayor-elect Jim Kenney announced on Monday that he has selected Anne Fadullon to serve as the Director of Planning and Development, a new position that was created when voters approved a change to the Home Rule Charter aimed at streamlining the city’s agencies that regulate development.
Fadullon currently serves as the director of development at Dale Corporation, which is headquartered in Glenside, Pa. She is the outgoing president of the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia (BIA), a group that lobbies for policies that make development easier, and a member of the Civic Design Review Committee, which monitors the impacts of major projects on the public realm. In the 1990s, she was director of development at the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority under Mayor Ed Rendell.
“Anne’s diverse accomplishments in both public and private-sector development make her the ideal choice to be the Director of Planning and Development,” Kenney said in a press release. “I’m confident that her nearly three decades of experience in city planning, real estate development, legislative policy, project financing and overall project management will create the cross-department coordination that is much needed in this area of the City.”
The Department of Planning and Development was added to the City Charter in November, but it will launch under the Kenney Administration. City Council President Darrell Clarke sponsored the charter change. Fadullon will be charged with coordinating the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the City Planning Commission, the Historical Commission, and various housing agencies. As president of the BIA, Fadullon supported the charter change, and has worked closely with Clarke on a number of policy measures over the years.
“The respect Anne has accrued among her peers in the private and public sectors is the result of hard work, bright ideas, and old-fashioned pragmatism,” Clarke said in a statement on Monday. “She is one of the sharpest development professionals I know of in this city, and I could not be more pleased that Mayor-elect Kenney has appointed her the first-ever director of the Department of Planning and Development.”
Along with the Philadelphia Association of CDCs, the BIA was among the first groups to support Clarke’s proposal to restructure the government and create the new department. Some neighborhood associations and development groups had concerns that the change was being offered without enough discussion, and at a time when the mayor’s office is changing hands. The BIA testified in support of the proposal at a Council committee hearing, saying that it could help streamline development permitting.
“Honestly I think I’m going to get there and not try to make any huge decisions right away, understand the lay of the land and take my time figuring out what’s what, so to speak,” Fadullon said on Monday.
“I think one of the really important things is to have somebody in this position who has actually done development, who has sat down in the basement of [the Municipal Services Building], worked through this process … so they can tie some of the administrative policy of this to the street-level pragmatic side.”
Eventually, the Historical Commission, Planning Commission, Art Commission, Zoning Board of Adjustment, and the yet-to-be-formed Housing Advisory Board will report to Fadullon. Fadullon will likely help Kenney identify appointees for various boards and commissions as well.
“I think that I’m just trying to come at this with my eyes wide open and my arms wide open,” Fadullon said. “I see everything I do as a team effort.”
During committee hearings on the bill that created the new Department, Clarke pointed out that the proposal more or less mimics the way the agencies have been organized under the Nutter administration, with Alan Greenberger as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. On Monday, Fadullon credited Greenberger with presiding over a major boom in development. In addition to the number of cranes that currently dot the skyline, Fadullon said, Philadelphia appears to be poised for economic growth, and its self-image has become more optimistic.
“That’s a huge sea change and I think [Greenberger] deserves a lot of credit for that.”
In addition to her work for the city, Fadullon has worked with the Development Workshop and the Design Advocacy Group. She has also taught courses with the Citizens Planning Institute, the education apparatus of the City Planning Commission. Fadullon’s longtime partner, Nora Lichtash, is director of the Women’s Community Revitalization Project. Lichtash helped organize the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities, which has advocated for an “anti-speculation tax” and other policies. The Coalition evolved out of an earlier advocacy group that helped lead the charge for the creation of the city’s Land Bank.
Council had at one point floated a provision in the Charter proposal that would have given it power to confirm the mayoral appointee for the new Dept. of Planning and Development, but that power wasn’t included in the final version. Nonetheless, the announcement clearly pleases Clarke, and could be another signal of improved relations between the Mayor and City Council. Nutter has been harshly criticized for his weak relationship with City Council during his eight years as Mayor. Though, it should be noted, Council didn’t exactly bring out the nice silver for him either.
As director of the new Department, Fadullon will earn $150,000 a year, as set by City Council and approved by voters.
Full disclosure: Anne Fadullon currently serves on PlanPhilly’s advisory board, which met once in October 2015.