Philadelphia Planning Commission adopts first two district-level portions of the comprehensive plan

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission adopted the first two district-level portions of the city’s new comprehensive plan, which will guide future development, use of public facilities, development of green space and transportation in neighborhoods on the west side of Fairmount Park and in the stadium district, port, Navy Yard and residential portions of Lower South Philadelphia.

None of the key goals in either area had changed since the commission learned about them in a February information-only session. But there were some changes, particularly in West Park.

In West Park, which includes the western part of Fairmount Park and nearby neighborhoods, including East Parkside, West Parkside and Cathedral Park, planners and community participants set goals including the revitalization of key commercial areas, creating better and safer pedestrian and mass transit connections, extending the green of the park into the community and attracting amenities, such as restaurants, that would both serve residents and give people who visit attractions like the zoo and the Please Touch Museum reason to linger – and spend money – in the neighborhoods.

Based on input to the draft plan, the plan now calls for a future historic district in the Wynnefield section, and added the Heston School, at 54th and Lancaster, to the list of those whose yards should be converted from blacktop to more green open and recreational space for community use.

The  Lower South plan calls for additional residential development, including senior housing, at the former Naval Hospital site. A request for qualifications will likely go out in 2013, to gauge developer interest in and ideas for the site, community planner Jennifer Barr said. First, additional environmental evaluation of the site must be completed, she said.

The plan also calls for the area near the stadiums to in the future be filled with pedestrian-scaled, mixed-use development, designed to be served by mass transit. And speaking of mass transit, the plan calls for both the extension of the Broad Street subway line and a ferry across the Delaware River.

No substantial new goals have been added to the Lower South plan since the last presentation, but some goals that were mentioned in multiple sections were consolidated, and with the help of CSX, the freight-line map was updated and is now more detailed.

Planning Commission Executive Director Gary Jastrzab said that a $100,000 grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, matched by another $100,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation, will help pay for some studies these two district plans, and potentially future plans, call for. This includes a study to determine the best future path of an extension to the Broad Street subway line.

City planning will complete 18 district-level plans in all. The first meeting on the next plan, for the Lower Northeast, will be held April 3. And meetings for the Central District will begin in June. The date has not been set. For more information, see the Philadelphia2035 website.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal