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Inga Saffron: Mayor Nutter's City Development Moves were More Ethical Than Effective

Does Mayor Michael Nutter deserve all the credit for Philly's transformation over the last eight years? When it comes to city development, architecture critic Inga Saffron of the Philadelphia Inquirer says, er, sort of. Saffron recently sat down with News Works and assessed the mayor's work on city development. You can listen to the whole interview here, but here's what Saffron had to say about Mayor Nutter's lasting legacy.

On grading the mayor's efforts to professionalize city planning:
Nutter campaigned very strongly and effectively in saying that he was as going to […] professionalize the planning board and zoning board and historical commission. His first public speech upon taking office was a policy statement about planning. I think without a doubt, this is one of the most ethical administrations that I've seen, so I'd give him an A for doing things in a professional way and not favoring people because they gave campaign contributions. It's really been an amazing transformation. On grading the mayor's effectiveness:
But I'd give him a much lower grade for effective planning, zoning, and preservation. The great, sad irony is the results are almost these same in many cases. Even though […] the process is better, the end results of these developments look a lot like they look before. The Nutter administration has been very pro-development and they let it happen. […] But it's very laissez-faire. There are so many instances where we could have better development if the mayor in City Hall would use his or her authority of the office to demand better quality design, better urban design, but we haven't seen it happen. On the mayor's success with parks:

It's been a golden age of park building. And that's really important because those kinds of amenities are so necessary as a city's population increases again. People want places to go and socialize and the city has to provide them high quality parks to stay competitive. On what mayor-elect Jim Kenney should prioritize:

We need to revisit the tax abatement. It's a very powerful tool and definitely fueled a lot of this housing development, but it's a very crude tool. […] I think we could refine the tax abatement and we could use it to support preservation and support other goals that we have: Investment in neighborhoods that haven't seen a lot of investment. ·See what to expect from the brand new LOVE Park [Curbed Philly]
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