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New zoning map would regulate building height in Center City, among other things

4/12/2013 | Real Estate Blog

Nearly a year after the new zoning code was released, city planners have updated the zoning classifications for every block in greater Center City, from Girard Avenue to Washington. The task, which took 16 months to complete, has resulted in a modern map that will dictate where buildings will go and, ultimately, the value of properties in what is perhaps the busiest and most expensive part of the city.

The proposal reportedly calls for zoning favoring a dense, mixed-use, transit-oriented, tech-friendly downtown. Zoning, of course, refers to the rules governing land use, and includes issues like building height, lot coverage, and other matters. Over the past 20 years, greater Center City has become an increasingly desirable place to live, and zoning officials have granted variances that permitted tall building to rise in what many consider to a rather random fashion. The new zoning map intends to remedy that.

What the proposal essentially calls for is a containment of the tallest towers within a narrow section of the city where transit is strongest. There would still be plenty of sites that permit tall towers, but the new arrangement would cluster skyscrapers would prevent situations where there are strange juxtapositions in building scale.

In addition to regulating building height, the new zoning map intends to put an end to damaging speculation that results in land sitting idle for decade. It also intends to update the current zoning situation, which hearkens back to the 1960s.

We will keep our readers updated of any news regarding the progress of the proposal.

Source:, “Changing Skyline: Proposed remapping of Center City land use covers much-needed ground,” Inga Saffron, March 16, 2013