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Business owners oppose plan for Delaware riverfront

3/12/2012 | Real Estate Blog

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission voted to approve a new master plan for development of the Delaware Riverfront, which will include the construction of more low-rise buildings, a waterfront trail, improved public access to the river, parks ever half-mile and extension of the street grid to the waterfront.

Plans for the waterfront reportedly began in 2006. Then mayor John F. Street commissioned the University of Pennsylvania to advance a dialogue about how the waterfront could be improved. In 2008, a plan was introduced and a blueprint later produced by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, whose directors unanimously endorsed the plan last October.

While many feel the plan is sorely needed, a group of property owners has objected to the plan on the grounds that the improvements would harm their businesses. One such property owner, who owns a construction company near the waterfront, says the proposed plan would split his two parcels into 13.

The proposal has been described by the Development Workshop-a group which advocates for private property owners-as “overly aspirational” as the plan will require a $770 million investment over 25 years.

The plan has also been criticized for proposing to impose public access rights on private property owners without compensation. Ninety percent of the land in the district is privately owned. Imposition of a number of proposed encumbrances could place owners in what has been described as “development limbo.”

According to Alan Greenberger of the Planning Commission, the current plan has a broad policy statement for which exceptions will be possible, but that he doesn’t understand how the plan harms any businesses.

In development projects such as this, there are often multiple competing interests at play and it can be hard to get everybody on board. Those who feel their property rights are infringed by these types of situations typically consult an attorney to find out the best course of action.

Source:, “Philadelphia’s City Planning Commission OKs a master plan for the Delaware riverfront, Jennifer Lin, March 7, 2012.