Building height restriction could go up 15 feet in Philly’s Old City

The maximum height of buildings in a portion of Old City could rise if legislation is approved by the Philadelphia’s full council. A council committee gave it the go ahead Tuesday.

The area bounded by the west side of Interstate 95 to Fourth Street, then Race Street to New Street, could see building heights soar another 15 feet past the current 65-foot limit if the bill wins approval.

Developer Jeffrey Brown, who owns a lot at Second and Race streets, says the 65-foot restriction is not enough to accommodate a profitable development.

“It makes you build a building that is below the bridge structure, which is not appealing as a place to live,” Brown said.

Councilman James Kenney voted against the increase.

“I do understand the importance for construction jobs and for development,” he said. “I think Old City is Old City for a reason — and if we are going to start massing large buildings, removing light and air and the view of bridges and the like, I think that’s a mistake,” Kenney said.

The full City Council and Mayor Michael Nutter will have the final say on the change.

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