Real Estate Development

    • Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing, Jewelers' Row, Sept. 28, 2016 | Jake Blumgart, PlanPhilly

Zoning Board hears arguments over Jewelers' Row permits, continues hearing to next week

A Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) meeting ended in acrimony on Wednesday afternoon, as the body decided to continue hearing the case about whether the Toll Brothers adequately posted signage about…

    • 704-708 Sansom Street, Jewelers Row, September 2016

Support for preservation-minded solutions at Jewelers' Row

It’s hard to imagine there is an RCO in Philadelphia with more architects among its membership than the Washington Square West Civic Association. At Tuesday night’s meeting of the community group’s…

    • 2010 Wharton Zoning Hearing

What should Philly expect in a new Zoning Board chair?

During the 2015 mayoral race Jim Kenney expressed a desire to professionalize the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) and ensure that it operated in a fair and “speedier” fashion. In almost…



Though it often has a negative connotation, development represents the absolutely crucial element of demand to use the urban form. Once completed, the development project ends up helping to define the built environment for future generations. Without development, there would be no city to plan. Despite the stigma often attached to it, development can meet both community needs and earn a profit when its design and program contributes to the larger urban framework.

It is important that development be regulated so that it supports the public health, safety, and welfare of a neighborhood, though this can be difficult to achieve today given the pressures facing the public sector due to rising social services needs and decreasing tax bases. Private developers often have leverage in these cases, which can lead to some unhealthy compromises that negatively affect our built environment. It is possible for development to be over-regulated, which often discourages investors from investing in particular cities. Philadelphia is often seen as a city that has outdated local controls, which in turn delays the development approval process. However, the re-zoning process currently underway by the Zoning Code Commission should go a long way in addressing this.  The goal is to set standards that encourage a balance of public good and private development.



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