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Philadelphia’s new zoning code officially implemented

8/24/2012 | Real Estate Blog

This Wednesday, the city of Philadelphia made the switch to a new, updated zoning code which is supposed to simplify the development process and modernize the city’s housing. The new code replaces the one that has been in use since 1962. At the time that code was put in place, Philadelphia was primarily a manufacturing center. The new code will support efforts to rebuild Philadelphia’s residential neighborhoods and accommodate a much-changed business landscape.

On Wednesday, May Nutter celebrated the event, saying that the new zoning code is a sign that Philadelphia is coming out of a long real estate bust. He predicted that the code will encourage more development, making it easier for developers to begin projects and create jobs. Because of the code, many more projects will be built without having to apply for a zoning variance. It is hoped that more companies will choose to build in Philadelphia.

Developers were particularly instrumental in bringing about the changes reflected in the code. But the code, it has been observed, is only a start, and the city will have to update its maps to reflect the reduced number of zoning classifications, which will take at least five years.

The process of adopting the code was not without controversy. Last year, the code was nearly stopped in its tracks when some neighborhoods objected to the possibility of increased density. That difficulty was overcome when the Nutter administration agreed to drop several related provisions, including those allowing people to rent apartments in their homes and operate bed-and-breakfasts.

Many large cities have, like Philadelphia, recently redone their zoning codes to accommodate changes since their previous codes were adopted.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Changing Skyline: Philly switches to new zoning code,” Inga Saffron, August 23, 2012