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First draft of first city-wide comprehensive plan since 1960 is released

City planners Tuesday released the draft of Philadelphia’s first city-wide comprehensive plan since 1960.

“This is a very exciting first step,” said Alan Greenberger, Philadelphia City Planning Commision executive director and deputy mayor for planning and commerce.

Yet, even though it’s been about two years in the making, this is only the beginning of Philadelphia2035, said Alan Urek, Director, Strategic Planning & Policy Division, who gave an overview of the document to the commission Tuesday afternoon.

Commissioners will need time to review the document, which has also been posted on the planning website and the Philadelphia2035 Facebook page so the public can do the same, Urek said. The hope is that the PCPC will vote on the proposed city-wide plan at its May 17 meeting.

But even then, Urek said, the Comprehensive Plan won’t be done. In fact, the more detailed work of developing 18 district-level plans – plans for groups of neighborhoods with similar characteristics – will be just beginning. It is these detailed plans that will result in specific zoning and other changes to allow for new land use based on current and future needs.

The city-wide plan predicts the city’s population – which peaked around 1950, was shrinking until recent years, but is now rising again – to grow by 100,000 by 2035, and sets a goal of creating about 40,000 new jobs.

It is focused on three themes, Urek said: Thrive, Connect and Renew.

Boiled down to basics, the thrive theme goals deal with preserving and improving strong neighborhood centers. Connect deals with linking neighborhoods to each other, and making better connections within them, such as with public transit and bike and walking routes. Renew is largely about redeveloping areas that are unused or underused, such as former industrial lands.

Implementing the plan fully would cost about $43 billion in private and federal and local public funds, Urek said – but that’s not so bad spread out over 25 years, he added.

The plan calls for creating modern light industrial areas with an emphasis on green industry in various places around the city, including areas near Philadelphia International and the airport in the Northeast, on the Central Delaware River, and at the Navy Yard.

It sets goals of improving public health through planning by emphasizing walkability and public transit use and changing zoning to allow for urban farming and farm markets in more areas.

It recommends creating intermodal transit hubs that link subways, regional rail and other modes of transportation at 30th Street Station and Market East.

On March 1, a website dedicated to the comprehensive plan, www.phila2035.org, will be launched, he said.  Also in March, an open house will be held at the Center for Architecture that will allow the public to ask questions about the plan.

Anyone can comment at anytime by emailing phila2035@phila.gov.  Citizens have given input along the way. Read about one such session here.

Contact the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com

MORE TO COME

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