New Delaware Riverfront Zoning Draft Bridges Future Development with City's Goals

Thursday city and waterfront planners unveiled a draft of the zoning laws aimed at requiring future Delaware River developments to line up with the city's waterfront goals.  Stated in the document, "The Central Delaware Overlay District is intended to encourage and renew the connection of the city's residents and visitors with the Central Delaware Riverfront and to promote the development of walkable mixed-use neighborhoods."

The draft bans development that would block the future extension of six "river view streets" to the riverfront.  It requires "active uses" on most of the ground floor of any building facing a large portion of Delaware Avenue, the river, or any of the 11 river view streets.  There is no outright ban on parking lots adjacent to Delaware Avenue, but the proposed rules limiting a "front yard" to 25 feet, including the sidewalk, essentially amounting to a ban.

The draft does not prohibit big-box stores, but it would require that they look less like a single huge building, and more like a group of smaller buildings.  The Master Plan calls for active, pedestrian-friendly uses on the ground floor of buildings.  The ordinances says that at least 75 percent of the ground floor frontage facing any riverview street, Delaware Avenue between Washington and Spring Garden, or the Delaware River between Washington and Spring Garden, must consist of one of eight required uses: Retail sales; commercial services; eating and drinking establishments; lobbies of hotels live theaters or cinemas; libraries, museums, galleries or exhibition space; post offices, enclosed public space, enclosed gardens, public rooms, through-block connections or entrances to public transit stations or transit concourses.

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