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Developer seeks change in proposed hotel’s zoning classification

9/24/2015 | Real Estate Blog

Next week, the Philadelphia City Council will reportedly be voting on a proposal to change the zoning classification for the Hudson Hotel, a project planned by Chancellor Hotels which was approved back in February. The hotel, which is to be located at 17th and Chancellor Street, was most recently planned to stand 12 stories tall, with 310 rooms.

The parcel on which the project sites sits is zoned right now as CMX-4, a commercial mixed designation indicating the second highest density. Now, Chancellor Hotels wants the project approved for CMX-5, the highest density designation. Sources didn’t say whether the request is likely to be approved, or what concerns, if any, there may be about the change in plans. One potential concern is sky plan blockage, which occurs when buildings block access to the sky plan and create an undesirable “dark canyon” effect, casting shadows and darkening city streets. 

Under Philadelphia’s Zoning Code, properties zoned as CMX-4 and CMX-5 and which front on streets 50 feet or more in width are regulated as to how much they can block access to the sky plan. The current scheme divides the sky plan into six height intervals, varying according to the width of the fronting street, and prescribes an appropriate limit on sky plan blockage. Determining a building’s sky plan blockage is a very precise calculation, and it is important to be accurate in doing so.

It isn’t clear whether the increased sky plan blockage involved in Chancellor’s newest proposal is going to be an issue for city officials, but if it is, the develop will have to work through the system to get its way. In our next post, we’ll take a brief look at obtaining zoning approval under Philadelphia’s Zoning Code.

Source: City of Philadelphia, Zoning Administrative Manual, Revised August 22, 2012.