To celebrate the enactment of the new zoning code Wednesday morning, Mayor Michael Nutter held a press conference at the construction site of the Granary apartment building, scheduled to open next spring at 20th and Callowhill streets.
Attendees—including deputy mayor Alan Greenberger, Zoning Code Commission director Eva Gladstein, L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, former City Councilman Frank DiCicco, members of the ZCC, builders, architects, and civic votaries—enjoyed cupcakes dressed with the logo of the ZCC in the August sun, while the Mayor thanked them all.
In introducing the Mayor, Alan Greenberger said that the zoning reform—the first since the 1960s—was unlikely several years ago, and said that “a lot of people would have bet good money” that the reform wouldn’t come to fruition. He praised Nutter for his vision, and the attendees for their participation.
“With great professionalism, with great openness, you made this happen,” said Greenberger, who also published an op-ed piece about zoning reform in the Inquirer Wednesday morning.
Nutter said the zoning code overhaul is “a signature moment” for Philadelphia. He said that the new rules are easier to understand, that they encourage civic participation, and that they will allow developers to finish projects in a timely manner. In a press release issued alongside the conference, Nutter said, “When I took office, I said that development in Philadelphia would be driven by smart planning, by openness, and by community engagement. The new zoning code which comes into effect today epitomizes these principles.”
There was applause for the Mayor, applause for DiCicco, who spearheaded the reform in Council, applause for Eva Gladstein and Natalie Shieh who managed the Zoning Code Commission, applause for the public which gave its input on the process. But the heartiest applause, it seemed, rung out for the developers—not only for the partners building the Granary, but for all the others who are choosing to invest in Philadelphia. Nutter said that $2 billion worth of development projects are currently underway, and that a dozen cranes dot the skyline, whereas nothing was being built two years ago.
He said the new zoning code would reinforce that trend. He then donned a hard hat and descended a ladder into the foundation of what was once an industrial grain mill and, come this spring, will hold more than 200 apartments with ground-floor retail space.
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