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Planning Commission Approves 3 Major Developments

Philadelphia University’s master plan moves forward

The City Planning Commission voted yesterday to approve three major developments, including two big-time projects in East Falls.

The commission unanimously voted in favor of the staff’s recommendations to approve Philadelphia University’s master plan, which calls for the rezoning of the 101-acre campus to an Institutional (Special Purpose) District, or SP-INS. Eight new campus buildings, three of which will be dorms, will be constructed as part of the master plan.

The university’s campus does fall within the Wissahickon Watershed in East Falls, and staff member Paula Brumbelow said the re-districting would not exempt the college from complying with the environmental regulations. Each building constructed will have to go through the Civic Design Review process and receive zoning approval.

Two members of the public—one a resident of East Falls and the other from Lancaster—spoke against approval of the master plan, citing concerns of heat islands due to new construction and lack of campus swales, which control water runoff.

Similar concerns were also presented at the Civic Design Review meeting earlier this month. The committee narrowly approved the design proposal 5 to 3.

The planning commission’s approval marks the fourth hurdle cleared in a 12-step approval process for the university’s master plan.

↑ The planning commission also voted in favor of Ridge Flats, a large mixed-use development also planned for East Falls. The design proposal for the 206-unit building was approved by the CDR in May, where the committee suggested making the wall along Ridge Avenue less drab by adding more programming. Yet according to planning staff member Jack Conviser, the plans presented at yesterday’s meeting did not indicate any changes to the design proposal.

Nancy Rogo-Trainer, chair of the CDR, opposed the approval.

Ridge Flats now goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals on August 10.

↑ The commission voted in favor of the staff’s recommendation to approve 600-24 North 5th Street, a development slated for Northern Liberties that will include 43 single-family townhomes and 53 parking spaces. It now goes to the ZBA on August 10.