Delaware Riverfront Trail Updates

Owners of property along the Central Delaware waterfront would be encouraged, but not forced, to allow public access to the river if current language under consideration for a zoning overlay is adopted by city council.  The goal is to design the overlay so that, along with base zoning, it guides future development according to the principles of the Central Delaware Master Plan.  Key Master plan goals include: Mixed-use, mostly neighborhood-scale development with active ground-floor uses; public access to the waterfront and the creation of a multi-purpose trail, and extension of the street grid to the river.

The plan requires that developers and owners leave 50 feet between the river and any permanent structure.  Stream buffer legislation that would set a setback requirement on all rivers and streams is working its way through council.  if the final legislation doesn't change from current discussions, landowners could chose from a menu of ways to allow public access, including granting access while retaining control of the section of their property where the trail passes or selling that section of property to the city.

Current language now calls for a 100-foot cap on building height except where underlying zoning sets the height lower. The Philadelphia City planning Commission can grant exceptions allowing for additional height.  However, a bonus structure may be implemented , similarly to other parts of the zoning code, would include a chart establishing clear conditions that can be met to earn specific bonuses.  Give-back options could earn a developer more height.  This would allow the city to build the trail through a property would yield some increase.  Developers who paid for the construction of that trail or built it themselves according to the trail standards would get even more height.  The developers will know exactly what the bonus will be for granting height depending on how much open space his or her project has, affordable housing, apartment rentals, LEED certification, and infrastructure for transportation or art.

On another note, renderings for the Penn Street portion of the Central Delaware Waterfront were revealed DRWC planners at last Fridays meeting.  This section of the trail will connect a greenway on Spring Garden Street to the Central Delaware trail.  it will run north from Spring Garden on Delaware Avenue, turn onto Penn Street and into the SugarHouse Casino parking lot.  The Casino has agreed to to build the section of the trail through its parking lot, which will hook onto the existing trail the casino has built on the waterfront.

Key design elements include trail-side rain gardens, and a new kind of solar street lights where the wrapping of the pole is the solar collector.  The planning commission has approved materials for the trail, but must vote on other aspects, including curb relocations and traffic flow on Penn Street which is expected to take place in November.

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