December 10: Centennial Village | Bicycle Coalition’s 2015 wins | Planning for driverless cars

Claudia Vargas profiles Mike DiBerardinis, current deputy mayor for environmental and community resources and Jim Kenney’s incoming Managing Director. “He empties his tank on everything,” said Patrick Morgan, his chief of staff for the last six years. “I’m half his age and it takes a lot for me to keep up.”

Meanwhile, Michael Nutter’s managing director, Rich Negrin, will be leaving government for a private law firm job for the time being.

West Parkside’s Centennial Village, a combination of mixed-use apartment buildings, single family homes, and new commercial spaces in the works since 2006 is finally going up on 52nd Street, reports Alaina Mabaso. 

The Bicycle Coalition’s Randy LoBasso tallies up the organization’s gains in 2015, including some material wins on Vision Zero, the Manayunk Bridge trail opening, and something on Washington Avenue. “A long-term solution? Absolutely not. Something for added safety in the short term? Yes.”

In a nice break from the bad news about the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, Dan Geringer has a feel-good story about the organization doing its job. After a developer damaged a community-owned park in East Kensington during an excavation, “[L+I Commissioner] Carlton Williams directed L&I inspectors to compel the developer to pour the foundation for the new house, then backfill the deep hole under the Arcadia Commons concrete planter. L&I also made the developer install a security fence around the construction site until the new house is built.”

“As of mid-2013, just one of the 25 largest metropolitan planning organizations in the U.S. had so much as mentioned driverless cars in its long-term regional plan,” writes Eric Jaffe, referencing research from Penn planning scholar Eric Guerra. That’d be DVRPC. Planning for all the contingencies of autonomous vehicles would be impossible, but MPOs interviewed by Gerra are also cognizant that “too much hesitation over imponderables becomes its own sort of planning decision.”

Dan McQuade isn’t so sure Subaru’s new headquarters has the transformative potential for Camden that Subaru and NJ officials advertised, although “Subaru is merely the first of a slew of businesses relocating to town. Brandywine says the rest of the development will not be like Subaru’s headquarters.”

Kenney communications director Lauren Hitt clarifies to Holly Otterbein that when the Mayor-elect talks about shifting focus to commercial corridors beyond Center City, he still thinks continuing the growth of Center City is important. “Jim is fully aware that continuing Center City’s recent progress is essential to the health of the city, and in no way will Center City be ignored in favor of commercial corridors. However, in the past, commercial corridors have been to some degree ignored in favor of Center City — and that’s the balance we’re trying to correct.”

Dan Sigmans notices some higher density buildings rising on low-rise blocks in West Philly, as developers in the area around the 4000 block of Chestnut Street start to make use of the CMX-4 zoning classification.

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