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New Philadelphia restaurant stalled by old zoning restrictions

7/19/2013 | Real Estate Blog

Property owners and developers are often eager to take an existing space and turn it into something new and something that meets the needs of current customers and residents. However, this process can be quite difficult when these projects are often delayed because of old, outdated zoning and land use restrictions.

Developers know that they must be in compliance with these restrictions, but they also know that many of them were put in place long before modern technology and consumer habits looked anything like they do now. This can be a serious point of frustration, but there are ways that projects can move forward by appealing the restrictions. 

Recently, developers at the Wynnewood Shopping Center in Philadelphia faced this very obstacle. The owners of a property in the mall had proposed to build a large restaurant in a now-vacant space. They have been successful in increasing occupancy rates elsewhere in the mall and proposed to add the large restaurant and outdoor patio.

But this proposal came up against some detractors. Specifically, people brought up zoning restrictions that were put in place back in 1953 which were designed to limit expansion and regulate parking. The restaurant proposal would violate these ordinances.

The shopping center filed an appeal and argues that the outdated ordinances should no longer apply, and it was noted that they have been inconsistently enforced. Other projects on the site were not subjected to them, so why is this one? The case is ongoing and a decision is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

There can be a number of issues like this that come up during a building proposal. It is crucial that owners and developers comply with current regulations, but it is also important to challenge restrictions that may no longer be appropriate and no longer protect the public interest. 

Source: Mainline Media News, “60-year-old zoning decisions new wrinkle in Wynnewood Shopping Center restaurant dispute,” Cheryl Allison, July 16, 2013