CIVIC DESIGN REVIEW:
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
Large building projects in Philadelphia are subject to a variety of governmental reviews before they can be built. They must comply with the applicable zoning codes which limit density to a varying degree in the urban core. They must comply with any applicable historic preservation regulations when the site contains or abuts historic buildings. They must comply with building and fire codes. And, over a certain size, a development project must submit to Civic Design Review (“CDR”), a process by which a committee or design professionals and two public members meet to consider the proposal’s various impacts on the community. These impacts include:
- Sidewalks and streets.
- Open spaces.
- Public access.
- Building height and bulk.
- Parking and loading conditions.
- Building materials and transparency.
Registered Community Organizations(“RCOs”) have an important role to play in the CDR process. When notified by L&I that a project in their district requires a CDR, the RCO is required to hold a public hearing. At that hearing, the project proponent presents and describes the planned project, and the public is invited to ask questions and make comments about it. When the project is presented to the CDR Committee, an RCO representative will summarize the comments from the public hearing as part of the Committee’s consideration of the project. While it is true that the CDR Committee’s approval is not required for a project, in general most developers try to obtain its approval.
CCRA is the RCO for the most active development district in Philadelphia. In that regard, there are two public hearings scheduled as part of upcoming CDR Committee reviews.
The first concerns the property at 2300 Market being developed by Breakthrough Properties as a biotech and laboratory facility for a variety of tenants. That meeting will take place by Zoom at 7 PM on Tuesday, July 12. The zoom link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88219769414.
Anyone wishing to participate simply needs to log on at that time. Materials will be presented at the Zoom meeting, but you may request an advance copy by writing to CCRA’s Managing Director Travis Oliver at email@example.com.
The second project is at the intersection of Broad and Lombard Streets. The meeting will be held on July 13, 2022, at 6:00 PM EDT. The Zoom link is as follows: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86084992104. Some details on the proposal can be found here.
Anyone may participate and we particularly urge those residents who might be affected by the developments to participate.