A letter from Logan Square Neighborhood Association president Sam R. Little to Eva Gladstein, Executive Director of the Zoning Code Commission.
The Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) is grateful for the opportunity to review the draft new Zoning Code, as we have appreciated the meaningful communication we have had with the Commission to date.
Our comments here are focused on issues and concerns relating to the potential impact of the new code on the Logan Square Neighborhood and Parkway North areas. We have reviewed the Consolidated Draft issued in September 2010, as well as subsequent modifications to sections of the draft code issued through November 10, 2010 that have been posted on the website.
We understand that, in addition to these comments, LSNA will have further opportunities to review and comment on the draft code in areas of ongoing modification of the text by the Zoning Commission. We also understand that we will be given the opportunity for continuing dialogue on the sections of the code where the potential impacts of the provisions on the Logan Square community are less well defined and the controls are still being modified. This anticipated coordination relates particularly to the Center City Overlay, and Sky Plane Controls.
Our comments have been developed in the context of the Logan Square Neighborhood-Parkway Plan that was completed by the community in 2009, and accepted by the Planning Commission as consistent with City Planning Commission policy. A defining characteristic of the Logan Square neighborhood is the proximity of a low-rise residential townhouse community to the high density high-rise office core. While in many ways this is an asset for the neighborhood and its residents, it also presents challenges in terms of potential impacts of large scale, dense, bulky high-rise development, particularly impacts of development along the C5 zoned JFK Boulevard/Market Street/Septa air rights corridor, on the low-rise residential neighborhood north of Arch Street.
In the plan, LSNA expressed concern that future development should not replicate the patterns of development exemplified by Kennedy House and the Sterling, where full block long high-rise building slabs create adverse impacts on daylight and sunlight penetration to the north. LSNA believes a more positive development approach is presented by the Commerce Square development, with narrower towers separated by one space. The since-abandoned Philadelphia River City proposal of 2006 highlighted LSNA concerns by proposing major light blocking high-rise air rights development over the SEPTA right-of-way that would have devastated the neighborhood.
The Logan Square Neighborhood-Parkway Plan included several recommendations to address this pivotal issue:
- Reduction of excessive additional FAR provisions in the existing C4 and RC4 districts, which provide a “buffer” along Arch Street between the high-rise office core on JFK and Market, and low-rise residential development to the north.
- Provision of building bulk controls (height, building spacing, and footprint dimensions) on all major developments to assure daylight and sunlight preservation, and protection of views
- Establishment of design review procedures that incorporate community input on all major developments.
Establishment of a review process for projects that includes developers, public agencies, and residents. READ MORE
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