Philadelphia2035 is an ambitious and forward-thinking Physical Development Plan that aims to shape Philadelphia’s future through stakeholder input and extensive research.
The plan originally drafted in 2011 is in its early stages of development and will analyse and implement strategies to ensure the cities 18 planning districts experience long-term sustainability and competitiveness on the global stage.
A strong metropolitan centre, diverse neighbourhoods, and industrial-legacy areas have been identified as three areas on which Philadelphia’s physical development can grow.
The government of Philadelphia is actively holding public meetings aimed at encouraging local residents input and feedback. They have also established a Facebook page and an interactive website.
The last time Philadelphia set out a new urban plan or changed their zoning codes was in 1960. In that time its economy has shifted from manufacturing to post-industrial while also experiencing steady population declines.
The plan adheres to three principles – Thrive, Connect, and Renew
. Its initiatives are to identify growth areas and opportunities, efficiently communicate to its citizens and the world, and identify and renew resources for the future.
Overseeing the plan is the government of Philadelphia. Through the government’s initiative, the plan will be implemented by the City Working Group, who are largely responsible for implementing the plan and consisting of representatives from City agencies, and Advisory Board, consisting of leaders from the public, private, and non-private sectors.
The plan will work alongside the refreshment and realignment of the city’s zoning code.
Among the biggest initiatives of the plan are identifying the most efficient use for occupied and used land spaces, increased investment in public transport, identifying sections of the economy for future investment, and the creation of policies that make it easier for new businesses to enter the market.
Integral to the plan is the growing of jobs across all sectors. Philadelphia is currently the fifth most populous city in the United Stated and 700,000 more people are projected to inhabit the city by 2035.
There are three different stages of planning – short, medium and long term.
Short term implementation began with the introduction of a new zoning code that removed some confusion in the old code. This created consistency and predictability for development.
There is and will be a strong emphasis on green technologies and environmental planning with 4,000 trees planted in 2012Since January 2013, $8.5 million has already been spent on new development. The Dilworth Plaza has been renovated and the Schuylkill Boardwalk was created.
Over 800 kilometres of new bike lanes have been created and 2,400 intersection lights were retimed to better suit pedestrians.
The most recent development came with the announcement of a twenty year contract between the government and Titan Advertising that will double the amount of bus shelters in the city and improve existing ones.
However dissent has already begun on whether it will affect real change.
Charles Goodwin of the Center City Residents’ Association
told CBS,“the bus shelters we seem to be getting under this deal seem to be very much 1990s bus shelters, not 2014 bus shelters — or, more importantly, 2035 bus shelters, when this contract will end.”
One of the big long-term problems that will face this plan will be to ensure that development and growth is not only increased but increased at a level that is in line with new technologies.
Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter
says the beneficiaries of the plan will be the community.
"I've never been about building monuments- for me, it was always about the future. How to leave something in place that was comprehensive, more long-lasting in nature that would benefit the greatest number of people. Your work has to be about the city, not about yourself," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Philadelphia currently has a lot of vacant buildings and unused land that are hard to reactivate due to red tape. Costs and legal proceedings have prevented public growth in this sector.
The Philadelphia Land Bank was approved in December 2013 and will go a long way in reshaping this stagnant sector. The bank will be able to purchase unused land and property and simplify the process of transferring between the public and private sectors. The bank will also support a plan to create 2,000 new affordable houses. The government required them to have a strategic plan to be approved.
The Land Bank is scheduled to be operating by early 2015.
It is one example of the direction Philadelphia is heading. A big step in ensuring Philadelphia’s sustainability in 2035.