Zoning remapping plan okayed, 12-story apartment house to replace YWCA Annex, Yorktown student housing ban stands, City loses millions to Wall Street swaps

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission approved the way forward for zoning remapping at Tuesday’s meeting, reports PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey. On August 22, 2012 (the day the new zoning code takes effect) a new map will rename each zoning district according to its corresponding name in the new code. Then over five years, the city will be remapped by district by the Planning Commission. Sound tricky? Here’s how the zoning map revision plan will play out.

PlanPhilly’s Kellie Patrick Gates reports that a 12-story apartment building is coming for the long-vacant YWCA Annex site at 2017-2023 Chestnut Street. Aquinas Realty plans 11 residential stories above street-level commercial space. The project is exceptional for two reasons: the neighbors and Redevelopment Authority asked for more height, and no on-site parking is planned except for bikes and car share. (Bravo!)

If Yorktown landlords want to rent to Temple students, they must live in the house as well. The Daily News reports that the 2004 ordinance, which was upheld in Commonwealth Court this month, essentially bans student housing in Yorktown.

A new report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) finds that Wall Street interest-rate swap contracts resulted in millions lost by Philadelphia and its school district, public agencies, and authorities. The swaps allowed Philadelphia to borrow at lower interest rates, but the contracts stipulated if rates fell below a certain level – which of course happened – the city had to pay millions to get out of the agreements or pay the old high rates. Citypaper reports the risky swaps amount to $331 million Philadelphia can’t afford to pay out, and PBPC argues the city should negotiate with the big banks (Citigroup, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, etc.) to refund and renegotiate the contracts. Was it betting with public money? Yep, but the public also bailed out the banks.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest.

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