Commission votes against proposed down-zoning in Brewerytown

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission voted Tuesday not to support a bill that would rezone dozens of properties in Brewerytown to single-family residential, down from multi-family residential.

The bill, introduced on behalf of City Council President Darrell Clarke, is meant to lock in a certain level of residential density in the area bounded roughly by 25th and 28th streets to the east and west, and Thompson street and Girard Avenue to the north and south. The Commission’s vote to disapprove the bill is advisory only; Council will make the ultimate decision on whether to adopt the bill after a Rules Committee hearing that hasn’t been scheduled yet.

City planner David Fecteau pointed out to the Commission that the recommendations in the bill are not in keeping with the Lower North District Plan. The bill would remap a number of blocks from RM-1, the lowest-density multi-family zoning category, to RSA-5 the highest-density single-family zoning category. Despite the relatively small change, the properties were not recommended for remapping in the district plan. The Planning Commission staff recommended disapproval for that reason.

Jeffery Young, who works in Clarke’s 5th District office, said that Clarke supports increased density on Girard Avenue, but wants to “maintain a certain character in Brewerytown.” The area is fundamentally a rowhouse community, Young said, and developers are hoping to seize on the multi-family zoning designation to build condos on what would otherwise be single-family properties. There’s also a market for single-family homes in the area, he said, and concerns about density in surrounding neighborhoods.

“If we were to rezone Fairmount to multi-family, those people would have a fit,” he said.

The Commission ultimately voted 6-4 not to approve the bill.

Brewerytown proposed zoning
Proposed zoning in Brewerytown

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