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Bill proposes rezoning for Drexel University development

Two years ago, at Powelton Ave. and 38th St. in Philadelphia, Charles Drew Elementary School was closed, and late last year on the same 14-acre property, University City High School was closed. Now Drexel University, in its continued expansion, could develop the property for mixed use, according to a bill recently introduced by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

In one of our previous posts related to condemnation and eminent domain, we discussed Drexel's expansion and its effect on property values.

The school district has given approval for Drexel to pay $25 million for the property, and the councilwoman's bill calls for rezoning the site for CMX-4 classification, which allows for varied and high-density commercial use.

According to the proposed bill, the site could be developed for retail, education, residential, office and research purposes. The plan also entails demolishing the empty buildings already on the site. The demolition would provide 2.7 million square feet for development, which could include the relocation of Powel Elementary School. That move, which Drexel is considering, would also expand the school's student body from grades K-4 to grades K-8.

The proposed bill claims the development is expected to offer 3,700 full-time jobs.

The rezoning would also place the site in an overlay district that requires new buildings near the street to be no higher than 75 feet. The overlay zoning would also allow for above-ground parking for the area.

Of course, community members and businesses will have opportunities to weigh in on the plans. As Philadelphia's redevelopment efforts continue, it is crucial that residents protect their financial and legal interests.

For more on zoning and land use, please visit our real estate law website.

Source: Philly.com, "Zoning changes proposed for University City High School site," Jared Brey, May 15, 2014

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