July, 2019 Minutes

July CDAG Board Meeting
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Society Hill Towers Community Room
85 Saint James Place

6:00 pm: Call to Order
6:10 pm
Central Delaware Overlay Update presentation— 
Ian Litwan from Planning Commission: New proposed changes to Base/CDO                                                                                                                                                

  • Uses — Prohibit auto-related uses (such as gas stations) everywhere in the /CDO, except within certain industrial zones.
  • Ground Floor Uses — Remove ‘residences’ from list of permitted ground floor uses. Change 75% requirement to a flexible scale to limit residential ground floor frontage to provide active uses.
  • Height Limits — Current limit of 100’ does not correlate well with building practices. Recommendation is to lower base height limit while allowing for more bonus height. This slightly reduces overall allowable height.
  • Gross Floor Area (GFA) — On lots within the Special Flood Hazard Area, mechanical equipment areas above the ground floor may be excluded from GFA and floor area ratio (FAR) calculations.
  • Form & Design – add building width and spacing controls, add 50’ spacing requirement for primary residential entries
  • Height and Density Bonuses— lower bonus for retail space from 48’ to 24’, increase max bonus for open space from 24’ to 48’, add new bonus for stormwater management (up to 48’), remove 3-acre lot size, remove limit on FAR bonuses within /CDO
  • Proposed Optional Approval Path— 
    • applies only to CMX-3, 4, 5; applies East of Delaware Ave/Columbus Blvd.; any project that requires a variance is ineligible. 
    • Required public benefits; mixed-income housing, open space, trail connections, stormwater management
    • Waivers; height limits, parking minimums
    • Revised approval process

Opened up to questions from the group. Parking was brought up, Port activity, and I-95 traffic.

Councilman Squilla needs to have a Committee Hearing in order to pass this overlay legislation. Will have another stakeholder meeting and gain consensus.

**Motion authorizing CDAG reps to participate in next stakeholder meeting: Samantha, motion seconded. Vote: 9 for motion passes. 0 abstain, 0 objected

7:14 pm: Anderson/Beach Street site, master plan— Nando gave an overview of this site, by-right, 1134 parking spaces, 248 single houses, townhomes, and 4 apartment buildings facing Beach St., 1 acre park in center, connection to the trail. Review of the plan. 
The “Ask” is — How can their plan be modified to create more of a neighborhood and add value? Orient the buildings to a street, river, city view, etc. 
DAG pointed out that there’s no connection to the waterfront, lack of open space, poor views/orientation. Are supportive if adjustments are made – this can be much better. Need Placemaking. Spacing and Orientation of building frontages makes the differences. This is an inwardly-oriented plan, minimal waterfront connectivity, the rowhome block types are akin to the superblocks of public housing, value of streets and open space is marginal.
DAG and CDAG to sit down with the developer to discuss bettering the design. – DAG to coordinate.

7:37 pm: Old Business
CDAG has gotten push-back on our RCO renewal from Planning Commission. 2 issues: they want us need to provide exact boundaries of the RCO. They are considering us as a coalition. We may not get our RCO designation. 

7:43 pm:  New Business— none

7:46 pm: Adjournment    
    

February, 2018 Minutes

February CDAG Board Meeting
Thursday, February 14, 6:00PM
Society Hill Towers Community Room
285 St. James Place

Call to order and approval of prior meeting minutes:
Motion to approved. Seconded. Approved

6:05 Special Guests – Councilman Mark Squilla and representative Ian Litwin from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission

Ian Litwin presented the CDO draft proposed update legislation.

Central Delaware Zoning Overlay (CDO) is the legal expression of the Central Delaware Master Plan, which was adopted by the city in early 2012, after years of unprecedented public engagement. In June of 2013 Councilmen Squilla successfully put through, with CDAG’s support, the CDO, which is now more than five years old. In May of 2017 the Councilmen drafted a bill with amendments to the CDO. CDAG and other stakeholders were concerned about the bill and the Councilman agreed to put the bill on hold and embarked upon a process to improve the bill and the amendments. Stakeholders include CDAG, the Planning Commission (PCPC), L&I, PWD, DRWC and zoning attorneys who represent land owners on the Delaware River, and other civic stakeholders. The bill was moving towards a specific framework and then the process took a left turn, at least from the perspective of CDAG. Late in the game the PCPC sent the legislation by their law department. The law department did not support some elements of the bill and the PCPC decided that it was beyond their resources to implement some of the provisions of the bill. A new draft was created and at that point, CDAG Chair and the Vice Chair expressed to PCPC that they were no longer willing to communicate and recommend the bill and the Councilmen, and PCPC needed to provide the bill and defend it. Matt  Ruben thanked the PCPC for attending. PCPC stated that they are taking notes and their goal is a bill that everyone will support.

Agenda:
CDO is intended to encourage development in accordance with the Master Plan. It applies to all parcels in the Central Delaware except those zoned for port uses, east of 95 from Allegheny to Oregon. The purpose of the update is to discourage low density development. There are single family homes on Front Street with garages that front the boulevard and the updated legislation will discourage this kind of development. 

Purpose:
The purpose of the optional path is to promote large projects that provide a public benefit and high-quality urban design. There is a more vigorous approval process for the optional path. PCPC wants to institute a process where they can approve large projects and require public benefits for those projects.
Changes to the base CDO include: ground floor uses, height limits, gross floor area, form and design, and height and density bonuses. The optional review includes this list and, in addition, amenities and waivers, as well as a longer review process and stricter standards.
In conflict with the Master Plan, auto-oriented uses are still being proposed and sometimes built. PCPC’s recommendation is to prohibit auto-related uses including gas stations except in certain industrial zones.
Ground floor use requirements apply to building frontage on Delaware Avenue, river access streets and the Delaware River. Residences are allowed as an active ground floor use and they are considering removing it from the list and changing the 75’ requirement to encourage non-residential active use.
Ground Floor Uses include Other/Residential/Active

ACTIVE GROUND FLOOR USES:
There are nine active ground floor uses and they are creating a ground floor use scale to encourage more active uses while allowing residential development. This would allow for a minimum of 75% active use with 25% other. There can be a maximum of 60% residential development.

HEIGHT LIMIT:
They are proposing to lower the base height limit from 100’ to 84’ while allowing for more height bonuses. The maximum height with bonuses remains at 244’.

GROSS FLOOR AREA:
Mechanical equipment cannot be placed underground in the flood hazard area. Mechanical equipment in certain flood areas will be excluded from gross floor area and FAR calculations. This is limited to one floor.

FORM AND DESIGN:
The CDO lacks adequate controls for building width and spacing. PCPC are proposing dimensional requirements including a 200’ building width maximum. and a 35’ minimum building spacing requirement. They are adding a 50’ spacing requirement between residential entries, which may reduce the amount of single-family row homes built.

HEIGHT AND DENSITY BONUSES:
They are changing the means to actively calibrate bonuses to benefit the public, accommodate changes to the mixed income housing bonus only and encourage greater use of the bonuses. Only one project has used height bonus is the five years that they have been offered.

New category for STORM WATER MANAGEMENT:
Double dipping is not allowed.

OPTIONAL APPROVAL PATH:
This process is applicable to lots east of Delaware Avenue that are zoned CMX 3,4, and 5. This may allow developers to build without height limits and minimum parking requirements. Public benefits required for projects that go through this optional process include: mixed income housing, public open space, Trail connections and a minimum requirement for storm water management. In exchange PCPC is proposing to waive height limits and parking minimums. FAR bonuses apply only to mixed income housing. The approval process requires a meeting with the Executive Director, PCPC approval of the site plan before zoning permits, civic design review, and PCPC approval before building permits are issued. 
They will have similar requirements for active ground floor Uses. The requirements are stricter for the OPTIONAL APPROVAL PATH. They are requiring 50% Active Use on Delaware Avenue. On River Access Street there is a 25% Active Use requirement.

OPTIONAL APPROVAL PATH FORM AND DESIGN:
On the ground floor the building width maximum is 125’, which is significantly less. This is meant to encourage buildings to provide views and access to water. 
Surface lots are not allowed within 75’ of Delaware Avenue. Parking structures cannot be located within 50’ of Delaware Avenue. unless 50% or more of the ground floor frontage contains active uses and there is a direct connection to a public sidewalk or open space located on the roof of the structure. 

OPTIONAL APPROVAL PATH STORMWATER: 
Stormwater must discharge directly into the river without using the city’s infrastructure.

Matt thanked Ian for his presentation.

Councilman Squilla: He thanked the working committee from CDAG, DRWC and the PCPC for working to improve the CDO. This idea is new and open to discussion and he’s willing to work with the community. He’d like to have this done before June, which is the end of the session. Low-density single-family development is occurring, and they are seeking to encourage development that aligns with the spirit of the Master Plan. 
CDAG Discussion and response and next steps on the overlay situation and process. Society Hill wants development on the Central Delaware that is in line with the Master Plan. They want the law to be aligned with what was envisioned ten years ago in the Master Plan. They are concerned with building height and open space. They are struggling with eliminating the height limit. The community did not envision or buy into illustrations of large structures above 200’. 
Councilmen Squilla: By limiting heights they were forcing developers into designs that were not in the spirit of the Master Plan. They are seeing what is being proposed on the waterfront and they have to re-imagine what is possible. They are still trying to adhere to the Master Plan. In certain areas the height limits may have to be higher than 90’.
CDAG: We are not equipped to do neighborhood by neighborhood outreach, but they have an advantage in the boat basin because DRWC owns that land. DRWC and Society Hill Civic have been in conversation. Matt asked if DRWC has a plan to develop the boat basin with multiple 240’ buildings. 
DRWC: No, we have always said this is not a high-rise site, but we are not willing to lock into a fixed height limit without understanding what development proposals could be because that could inadvertently legislate us out of good development proposals.
Question: You are allowing water to flow directly into the river?
PCPC: The first 1.5″ of stormwater must be captured on site as soon as you disturb 10,000 so these projects will be managing their own stormwater. Stormwater above that will not be going into the city system. Storm water bonuses are for capturing stormwater off of city streets and managing it on a private site. Developers are required to comply with PWD requirements, including managing the first 1.5’ on site. 
CDAG asked Councilmen Squilla for ‘what if’ scenarios for sites along the waterfront. What could be built under the proposed legislation? The inability for us to know anything is a problem when you are asking for community support. The Anderson site has dozens of acres. Even if there is not height limit, the FAR will still constrain building size. In CMX 3,4, and 5 the FAR can be 500% of the lot area. If you have a 1,000 square foot lot, then you can have 5,000 square feet of building. There are some large parcels on the waterfront and if someone wanted to cover only a small portion they could build very high. There are also piers where the property includes water, so they could build higher than they would be able to if the water where not included in the property area. The less of the lot you take up then the higher you can build. The process is being influenced by those with a direct financial stake in the Central Delaware. They have more resources than community advocates and volunteers. The process feels unfair and weighted towards financial interests. We need more information to make informed decisions.
Councilman Squilla: Acknowledged that as a fair point and the importance of exploring the dimensions limits and development options. 
QUESTION: There could be more stringent criteria within the optional review. Focusing on the façade could determine building material. The optional process requires design review. There are a number of approvals that happen if you do not choose the optional review. Façade review considers transparency percentage and active use. The building code dictates materials. 
CDAG Vice Chair, Joe Kain: Suggested the material is too confusing and he cannot guarantee that his civic will not support the legislation. If people hear things like no height limit and no parking requirements, they will have questions. Illustrations will help him to communicate the intent.
PCPC: They have limited resources and they are trying as hard as they can. They are trying to get something that is as good as they can possibly get.
Councilman Squilla: Acknowledged that they are not asking PCPC to take on the parcel case studies. He wants to see representative samples that show the worst case and best-case examples.
Question: How can a sense of community develop with high rise buildings. Human interaction is limited. Low rise development encourages human interaction?
Councilman Squilla: Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods which makes it a great city. He is a proponent of home ownership and that type of development is occurring, but single-family development on the river tends to privatize the waterfront. We do not have the land or the demand for high rises on every parcel, and there are only a couple of parcels where this is possible. There are only four or five parcels where high-rise buildings are possible. 
PCPC: In order to access the relaxed height-limit available through the optional process a developer must provide publicly accessible open space.
CDAG: The zoning in the master plan was intended to replicate the neighborhoods of the city. Three, four, five and up stories were part of the original plan. The bonus system came about because of pressure from the development community. Most of the development on the waterfront has been underbuilt. Overbuilding has occurred through zoning attorneys using zoning to inflate the value of the land and flip the property. Townhouse developments don’t create a sense of community because they have garages and they don’t have frontage on Delaware Avenue / Columbus Boulevard. 
PCPC: The market will determine the amount of parking. Developers can build as much parking as they want but they are not required to adhere to parking minimums. Currently in the Central Delaware, developers are building more parking than is required by the code because the market demands it.
Councilmen Squilla: Noted that most developers are over-building parking on the waterfront. 
DRWC: Density and height are two different things. The fabric of Philadelphia is denser than what they are seeing on the waterfront. We need density to encourage active uses like retail and cafes. We need people living along the waterfront.
CDAG: Rather than individual site studies, it’s necessary to bring the reader through the riverfront with a series of studies that explain the code and answer most of the questions. Illustrate the code and the market influences. It was noted that if there is 50’ between entrances, it should be also be noted that they are primary entrances. 
Society Hill: The waiver of the height limits and parking minimums will be hard for civic associations to swallow. Some limits will eliminate confusion. The Master Plan stated clearly that it was never intended that there would be 90’ walls of buildings. 
RECA: What is the motivation for the unlimited height? If there were a number, then people may be able to support the legislation.
PCPC. Developers are required to provide so much in the optional process. They are trying to elevate the quality of design and increase density.
CDAG: We are duty bound to uphold the principles of the Master Plan. Parking is ultimately meant to be urban parking and should be respectful of the people who live on the waterfront. 
PCPC: The goal is to let the market decide.
CDAG: We are forced to spend a tremendous amount of time and energy dealing with speculative zoning and the market demand is not there. We don’t want to be careful about spending time on legislation that exists, so a developer can flip a property for more money.
PCPC: The optional path the building permit requires multiple approvals from the Planning Commission, which discourages speculative zoning. 
CDAG: Deed restrictions are not valuable as speculative zoning tools because they encumber the property. Speculative zoning has been one of the largest problems along the waterfront. CDAG wants to consider the legislation on content and substance. CDAG does not want to sit in meetings that include lawyers from K4 and Durst because it raised suspicion. 
CDAG thanked Councilmen Squilla and the PCPC especially for the clear and concise presentations.

Old Business
Durst won an RFP to develop The West Shipyard. The site includes 16thand 17thcentury archeology. The site could be an economic engine and an attraction that brings people to the waterfront. John thanked Councilman Squilla for helping to prevent DRWC from entering into a binding agreement without a public process. DRWC has a letter of intent with Durst. The LOI includes a process and DRWC has committed to a public process. DRWC is not bound by a public vote, but they are not shackled to the developer. RECA does not think publicly owned land should be sold to private developers, especially because there is so little of it left on the waterfront. There is no agreement of sale, development proposal or site design. Direct action has led to a public process. 
If the goal is to have DRWC develop the land, then CDAG will have to have a proper conversation about private vs public options. CDAG has not taken a position on private development of the land.

Motion to Adjournment. Seconded.

site design. Direct action has led to a public process. 

If the goal is to have DRWC develop the land, then CDAG will have to have a proper conversation about private vs public options. CDAG has not taken a position on private development of the land.

Motion to Adjournment. Seconded.

December, 2018 Minutes

December CDAG Board Meeting
Thursday, December 13, 6:00PM
Society Hill Towers Community Room
85 St. James Place

Call to Order and Approval of October and November Meeting Minutes
Motion to Approve. Seconded. Approved.

Presentation, Q&A, Discussion – Design Advocacy Group (DAG) membership application
Matt attended a DAG board meeting on behalf of CDAG.
Nando Micale from DAG presenting the application. DAG includes task force groups focused on advocacy. Nando Micale and James Templeton lead a task force focused on waterfront advocacy. 

Mission of DAG is to advance quality planning and design in the city. The group is made up of professionals including lawyers, architects, landscape architects, planners and also regular folks. They have about 1,600 members, 100 of which attend monthly meetings. The DAG board has reviewed the Waterfront Master Plan and the civic vision and it is aligned with their mission.

DAG meetings are held at 1218 Arch Street at 8am the first Thursday of every month. DAG is a subsidiary of Culture Works. 
We will vote on their membership application in the January meeting.

Discussion and Vote – Proposed CDAG Bylaws Amendment
Currently to admit a new organization the bylaws require a 75% approval of all voting members. The executive committee is recommending a change in the bylaws to require a majority of the voting members present at the meeting for approval.
Friendly amendment to the recommended bylaws change: The bylaws will be amended to require a super majority of the members present or 75% of the voting members present at the meeting.
Moved. Seconded. Unanimously Approved.

Candidate Statements and Voting – 2019 CDAG Officers
Chair: Matt Ruben is the only candidate. Re-elected.
Vice Chair: Candidate Comments from the five candidates and a vote for two vice chairs.
Joe Cain: Newly elected president of FNA and Vice Chair of Crosstown Coalition. He believes it is more important to know what is going early in the development process. He wants to preserve the integrity of the Waterfront Master Plan and the two overlays.
Paul Nutaitis: Retired software engineer living at the Court of Old Swedes. He feels very privileged to listen to developers pitch ideas and wants to help in any way he can.
Samantha Sarafina: Representative from Dickinson Square West and a graduate of the Citizens Planning Institute.
Fred Santilli: He lives at Waterfront Square and is the VP of Regatta board. He is inspired by how much people care about their neighborhoods.
Jane Winkel: Representative from Dickinson Square. She acknowledged the contributions of Diane Myer and Joe Schiavo
Joe Cain and Samantha Sarafina elected as Vice Chairs.
Secretary: Jane Winkel re-elected.
Treasurer: Jim Moss re-elected.

CDO Update: Take a-ways from a Stakeholder Meeting for the Central Delaware Overlay Changes,
We have reached a point where CDAG will need to advocate publicly and strongly to preserve the CDO. Joe and Matt told Councilman Squilla that he will need to justify the changes to any organization that questions the updates. CDAG will not be advocating approval of all of the changes to the CDO. 

1. There has always been a desire to add more river access streets to the CDO, and this update incudes more river access streets. Mifflin Street has been added back in as a river access street. Tasker Street is still included. South Street, Walnut Street, Chestnut Street and Market Street are newly added river access streets. Berks Street, Cumberland Street, Lehigh Street have been included for a long time and they remain in the plan. This legislation was introduced before the stakeholder meeting.

2. The requirement for Active Use on Columbus Blvd between Washington Avenue and Spring Garden Street will be expanded from Mifflin to Berks. Previously, single family houses were considered Active Use on Columbus and the effort to redefine Active Use will be included in the CDO. That is, if the ground floor of a building is 3’ or more above street level than the property does not count as Active Use. Since 90% of the overlay area is in the flood plain and residential buildings cannot have a ground floor in the flood plain, but commercial buildings can, by default residential buildings are excluded from the Active Use category. That language is still included in the CDO.

3. Restrictive covenants and deed restrictions are still included for properties with bonus amenities. Deed restriction will be in place until all the amenities are completed. Developers will not be able to obtain a permit for another building until the amenities are provided.

4. The unexpected change to the CDO is a result of an objection from Law Department at the Planning Commission. Large parcels, five acres or more with at least two building with height bonuses, were to go through the Plan of Development process, but the Planning Department did not run the language by the Law Department until after the language was developed. The Law Department objected to requiring a mandatory process.

Ann Fadullon, Director of Planning, directed planning staff to come up with an alternative that will satisfy the Law Department but still address large multi-phase developments, preserve view corridors and retain some control over massing. Planning came up with an Optional Review Process. No property owner has to enter this process. Developers with riverside lots that are zoned CMX3, 4 or 5, where there is not a height limit in the zoning code and the size of the building is based on a proportion of the lot area, can choose the Optional Review Process. If an owner decides to enter the process, then they must meet all of the requirements of the process. The Optional Review Process limits building width and requires at least 50’ between buildings. It restricts surface parking within 75’ of Columbus Ave. It restricts above ground parking abutting Columbus Ave unless 50% of the ground floor frontage has an active use or there is direct pedestrian access to a public plaza on the roof of the structure. The owner must construct their portion of the trail, unless it’s on a pier. They must provide a public open space that conforms to the CDO. They must meet the mixed income housing requirements that are in the code necessary for a FAR or height bonus or pay into the housing trust fund. All amenities must be constructed prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. Other than the FAR bonus you get for providing mixed income housing they are not eligible to apply for any other FAR bonuses or variances. Developers have to meet with the Planning Commission Executive Director, they have to go through Civic Design review, and they must get Planning Commission approval before they receive zoning approval and building permits.

If they go through the process they receive two waivers. The two waivers are 1) they are waived from underlying CMX 3, 4 and 5 parking requirements, and 2) instead of limiting height at 320’ height limits are waived. Height is still limited by FAR. A 1,000 sf property is still limited to 10 stories, but a 300,000 sf property with one building can go incredibly high

Peter Kelson, attorney for the Durst Organization, questioned the height limit at the fall meeting. Durst owns Morgan’s Pier, Dave and Busters and the marina in between. Durst is bidding on the landside parcel as well. Speculation is that Durst wants to build something very tall on the waterfront. The new changes to the CDO language are similar to the changes Kelson advocated for at the fall meeting. This appears to be a transaction to allow Durst to build taller

Building above seven stories is expensive. Any building over 75’ is a high rise. Once you hit high rise standard additional means of egress are required and the rating of the fire stairs and walls is more stringent, making construction is 15 to 20% more expensive per foot.

The optional process requires 50’ between buildings and it was agreed to add that to the CDO.

There are a handful of sites on the waterfront, maybe five or six, that are large enough to make the Optional Review Process feasible including the Conrail, Anderson, and K4 properties. 

Councilman Squilla knows that he must present the options to CDAG before the language is finalized and approved. CDAG board members are encouraged to contact the councilman to request that he present the changes to their civic organization.

We are at the end of an economic cycle and developers may be trying to entitle properties to increase value. As advocates we can let them do that and guide the process and encourage better zoning. Developers will not go through the onerous optional process unless they are planning to actually build. 

New Business
The PHL Association for CDCs is considering a campaign to support volunteer advocates and CDAG may be asked to help shape a potential plan. The zoning process is stacked against volunteer organizations. The ZBA goes against community groups constantly. There is no plan in place for community groups to influence the mayor or city council. 

Old Business
January 25this the DRWC quarterly board meeting, and they take public comment. The Shipyard development project can be addressed there. The site is historic. 

Closing Note
Matt Rubin expressed deep admiration and gratitude to Joe Schiavo as a relentless advocate for the waterfront. He is the vice-chair but has acted as a de facto co-chair. He is the keeper of documents, a walking encyclopedia of the minutia of the overlay and zoning code, a proactive recommender of good reforms for the CDO, and dedicated beyond all expectations. His shoes are, metaphorically, enormous and unfillable. We are all grateful for his service. It is not an exaggeration to say when our children’s children’s children are doing the 22nd century equivalent of yoga on Race Street Pier, when they are on Cherry Street Pier, when they are at La Peg, when they are at Spruce Street Harbor Park, when they are at the river rink, when they are able to bike up and down Columbus Blvd, when there is transit on Columbus Blvd, when they are in a water taxi, they will owe a debt to Joe Schiavo.

Motion to Adjourn. Seconded.






The PHL Association for CDCs is considering a campaign to support volunteer advocates and CDAG may be asked to help shape a potential plan. The zoning process is stacked against volunteer organizations. The ZBA goes against community groups constantly. There is no plan in place for community groups to influence the mayor or city council. 



















.






3. Restrictive covenants and deed restrictions are still included for properties with bonus amenities. Deed restriction will be in place until all the amenities are completed. Developers will not be able to obtain a permit for another building until the amenities are provided.

4. The unexpected change to the CDO is a result of an objection from Law Department at the Planning Commission. Large parcels, five acres or more with at least two building with height bonuses, were to go through the Plan of Development process, but the Planning Department did not run the language by the Law Department until after the language was developed. The Law Department objected to requiring a mandatory process.

Ann Fadullon, Director of Planning, directed planning staff to come up with an alternative that will satisfy the Law Department but still address large multi-phase developments, preserve view corridors and retain some control over massing. Planning came up with an Optional Review Process. No property owner has to enter this process. Developers with riverside lots that are zoned CMX3, 4 or 5, where there is not a height limit in the zoning code and the size of the building is based on a proportion of the lot area, can choose the Optional Review Process. If an owner decides to enter the process, then they must meet all of the requirements of the process. The Optional Review Process limits building width and requires at least 50’ between buildings. It restricts surface parking within 75’ of Columbus Ave. It restricts above ground parking abutting Columbus Ave unless 50% of the ground floor frontage has an active use or there is direct pedestrian access to a public plaza on the roof of the structure. The owner must construct their portion of the trail, unless it’s on a pier. They must provide a public open space that conforms to the CDO. They must meet the mixed income housing requirements that are in the code necessary for a FAR or height bonus or pay into the housing trust fund. All amenities must be constructed prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. Other than the FAR bonus you get for providing mixed income housing they are not eligible to apply for any other FAR bonuses or variances. Developers have to meet with the Planning Commission Executive Director, they have to go through Civic Design review, and they must get Planning Commission approval before they receive zoning approval and building permits.

If they go through the process they receive two waivers. The two waivers are 1) they are waived from underlying CMX 3, 4 and 5 parking requirements, and 2) instead of limiting height at 320’ height limits are waived. Height is still limited by FAR. A 1,000 sf property is still limited to 10 stories, but a 300,000 sf property with one building can go incredibly high. 

Peter Kelson, attorney for the Durst Organization, questioned the height limit at the fall meeting. Durst owns Morgan’s Pier, Dave and Busters and the marina in between. Durst is bidding on the landside parcel as well. Speculation is that Durst wants to build something very tall on the waterfront. The new changes to the CDO language are similar to the changes Kelson advocated for at the fall meeting. This appears to be a transaction to allow Durst to build taller. 

Building above seven stories is expensive. Any building over 75’ is a high rise. Once you hit high rise standard additional means of egress are required and the rating of the fire stairs and walls is more stringent, making construction is 15 to 20% more expensive per foot.

The optional process requires 50’ between buildings and it was agreed to add that to the CDO.

There are a handful of sites on the waterfront, maybe five or six, that are large enough to make the Optional Review Process feasible including the Conrail, Anderson, and K4 properties.

Councilman Squilla knows that he must present the options to CDAG before the language is finalized and approved. CDAG board members are encouraged to contact the councilman to request that he present the changes to their civic organization.

We are at the end of an economic cycle and developers may be trying to entitle properties to increase value. As advocates we can let them do that and guide the process and encourage better zoning. Developers will not go through the onerous optional process unless they are planning to actually build. 

New Business

The PHL Association for CDCs is considering a campaign to support volunteer advocates and CDAG may be asked to help shape a potential plan. The zoning process is stacked against volunteer organizations. The ZBA goes against community groups constantly. There is no plan in place for community groups to influence the mayor or city council. 

Old Business

January 25this the DRWC quarterly board meeting, and they take public comment. The Shipyard development project can be addressed there. The site is historic. 

Closing Note

Matt Rubin expressed deep admiration and gratitude to Joe Schiavo as a relentless advocate for the waterfront. He is the vice-chair but has acted as a de facto co-chair. He is the keeper of documents, a walking encyclopedia of the minutia of the overlay and zoning code, a proactive recommender of good reforms for the CDO, and dedicated beyond all expectations. His shoes are, metaphorically, enormous and unfillable. We are all grateful for his service. It is not an exaggeration to say when our children’s children’s children are doing the 22nd century equivalent of yoga on Race Street Pier, when they are on Cherry Street Pier, when they are at La Peg, when they are at Spruce Street Harbor Park, when they are at the river rink, when they are able to bike up and down Columbus Blvd, when there is transit on Columbus Blvd, when they are in a water taxi, they will owe a debt to Joe Schiavo.

Motion to Adjourn. Seconded.