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Zoning permit debated in Philadelphia parking garage project

11/28/2013 | Real Estate Blog

A proposed apartment complex and parking garage in Fitler Square has been the subject of debate recently here in Philadelphia. The One Riverside project, which will house 147 apartments, was just approved for a zoning permit and a floor-area bonus for its proposed underground parking garage. The problem is that the parking garage is not completely underground, and some argue that it does not meet the requirements for the bonus.

The current design has two parking levels one at ground level and another that is truly underground. The builder claims that this design fits the criteria of the zoning code, which allows the floor-area bonus if parking is at or below ground level. The Department of L&I determined that it met requirements and issued the permit.

Neighbors of the proposed site are appealing, arguing that the floor-area bonus should not be granted because the parking area is still partially above-ground. In fact, the wall of the parking garage can be seen from the street. The lawyer representing the appellants believes that approving zoning for this project would encourage other developers of waterfront property to propose similar parking facilities in order to get the bonus. The point of the bonus, he argued, is to encourage developers to hide parking completely out of sight.

While the Zoning Board has listened to both sides, it has yet to make a final ruling on the permit. A case like this demonstrates just one of the many obstacles that can arise when a new project is being built in Philadelphia. That is why it can be beneficial for builders to seek legal assistance during each stage of the project from proposal to completion.

Source:, Arguing for ‘underground’ parking at Dranoff’s Riverside tower, Jared Brey, Nov. 20, 2013