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Property owners angry about Philly development plan

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission has approved a new master plan for portions of the Delaware River area, but the plan has left some owners upset. Some say it will alter just how owners can develop their own commercial real estate.

Under the master plan, which covers a six-mile portion of the waterfront area from Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia to Allegheny Avenue in Port Richmond, development must include waterfront trails, improved access to the river, parks and more low-rise buildings.

Some property owners, however, are calling the plan overly ambitious. Others wonder how the city will afford its required investment of $770 million over the next 25 years, while still others said the plan would significantly alter the future of their properties.

According to records, private owners hold 90 percent of the land in this affected area. Some argue that the city should first focus on the development of the area where the city has jurisdiction over much of the land.

A representative for one property owner says that two parcels of land that man owns now would become 13 under the plan, affecting the way he could develop the property. Another man, the executive director of a group that advocates for property owners along the river, says the new plan will give the public access rights to private property without compensating the owners.

The director of a group charged with the riverfront project says the master plan will set the vision for the area and spur development, not stall it as some owners have suggested.

There are no reports of any lawsuits being filed against the city or the planning commission, but a property owner could sue to win an injunction to keep work from moving forward.

Source: The Inquirer, "Philadelphia's City Planning Commission OKs a master plan for the Delaware riverfront," Jennifer Lin, March 7, 2012

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