Former Inquirer building and surrounding properties to be rezoned

The City Planning Commission voted on Tuesday to recommend two bills rezoning the former Inquirer building on North Broad, the Philadelphia School District Headquarters, and a small surface parking lot at 15th and Hamilton owned by the Community College of Philadelphia. The bills, introduced on behalf of Council President Darrell Clarke, would change the properties from industrial zoning to CMX-4 commercial zoning.

On the lot at 15th and Hamilton, CCP is hoping to build a 500-bed student housing project with commercial and retail uses on the ground floor, according to a Request for Proposals the College released earlier this year. The College is seeking developers with experience in mixed-use construction projects to build “a project with market rate housing, student housing and retail amenities for all occupants and surrounding neighborhood that will build a better sense of community around our campus.” Proposals are due this Friday, March 18.

Developer Bart Blatstein, who failed to get a gaming license to convert the former Inquirer building into a casino, is now planning to renovate the property as apartments with a 125-room hotel.

Some Planning Commissioners asked why the properties were being rezoned one piece at a time, rather than updating the zoning maps for the entire area. Jeffery Young, who works in Clarke’s office, said that CBS3, which owns one of the adjacent properties, wanted to keep its industrial zoning. Because the two zoning bills match the recommendations of the Central District Plan, the Commission voted to approve them.

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