March 7: Clarke introducing redevelopment bills | Preservation hardship rule change? | School closing vote tonight | Horizon Lines relocates to Philly | DRPA considering Benjamin Franklin Bridge ramp designs

Good morning, Streeters. Here’s what’s making news on the bright Thursday morning:

City Council President Darrell Clarke plans to introduce a set of bills today designed to get vacant, tax-delinquent, and city-owned land back on the tax rolls. The Inquirer reports that the bills would create “development districts” (an idea Clarke has floated before); enable the city to relax its zoning and design regulations and offer speedy permitting for low-income housing projects; give financial incentives to developers who buy a property at sheriff sale and complete construction within 18 months; allow the city to convey property for nominal fees to projects that will create affordable housing or employment for low- and moderate- income residents;  and create a program to give away land to buyers whose income is less than 150% of area median income if they build a home on the lot and live there for five years.

The Philadelphia Historical Commission is considering changing its rules and regulations for hardship, in response to recent legal challenges to its recent hardship decisions. PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey explains these changes, stemming from two legal challenges based on regulatory language requiring property owners make a good faith attempt to sell the building. Discussion of these changes was slated for Friday morning’s meeting but has been pushed back to April 12.

Today is the decision day for 27 schools slated for closure. The Inquirer explains what to expect at this evening’s School Reform Commission meeting: a rally outside the School District’s headquarters on North Broad, tight security, limited public testimony, and a vote on the fate of 27 schools.

Horizon Lines is moving its northeastern operations from Elizabeth, NJ to the Port of Philadelphia’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal next month, the Inquirer reports. Horizon – which ships containers of food, household goods, construction and manufacturing materials, and auto parts – will bring an about 52 ships a year to Philadelphia, creating an estimated 400 jobs.

Cyclists, walkers, and people in wheelchairs could have a far easier time using the Benjamin Franklin Bridge’s south walkway. The Delaware River Port Authority is considering three alternative ramp designs to replace the steep stairs on the Camden side of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the Inquirer reports.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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