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Developer faces opposition to building tall tower in Old City

9/20/2012 | Real Estate Blog

Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Planning Commission approved the development of several new apartment buildings within walking distance of a new park at the Race Street Prier. The projects have reportedly been criticized due to their deviation from standards set out in the new waterfront master plan and zoning code. The projects were approved, however, on the premise that they would help stimulate the new neighborhood near the waterfront.

The projects include two 12-story apartment houses: one of them on the north side of the Ben Franklin Bridge; and next to Dockside at Piers. Both of these were seen as problematic because they lacked ground-floor retail.

The third project, a 16-story tower at Second and Race Streets in Old City, was debated most heatedly. The reason is that the building-at 197 feet-is three times the allowable height. Members of the Old City community were quite divided over the project. While some argued that approving the project would set a poor precedent from the perspective of preventing tall buildings from encroaching into the historic neighborhood, others argued that Old City needs more residents and that he tower could serve as an anchor. Commissioner Nancy Trainer argued that the building, while tall, was preferable to a block-like apartment house that conformed to the code.

Zoning disputes can put a real damper on projects, and developers facing them do well to hire experienced legal help to help navigate the legal questions involved.

Source:, “Three new apartment building to be built near waterfront,” Inga Saffron, September 19, 2012