With little more than a year left in office, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter started to paint his legacy Monday.
Speaking to about 300 attending the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Planners Association’s annual conference, Nutter ticked off several urban planning accomplishments pushed by his administration: A brand-new zoning code for the first time in more than 50 years. An empowered planning commission. More bike lanes. Better sidewalks.
Because of these and other changes, Nutter said builders have returned to Philadelphia after years of avoiding the city due to confusing and often unfair regulations.
“You can barely walk down the street in many areas of Philadelphia and not see a crane or a construction crew at work,” said Nutter. “Since January of 2013, $8.5 billion of more than 200 new development projects have been completed, started or announced in the city of Philadelphia … $8.5 billion of activity.”
Political observers have said planning changes, though they may not be the most exhilarating conversation topic, are one of Nutter’s chief victories during his nearly seven years in office. The mayor’s ethics reforms, which he promised during his 2007 campaign, are seen as another main success.
Nutter also ran on a platform of improving the city’s schools, which have been rocked by budget cuts and a cheating scandal in recent years.