The Lower North District Plan was adopted by PCPC on May 20, 2014.
ABOUT THE DISTRICT
For the first time in 60 years, Lower North Philadelphia has grown. After losing over 60 percent of its population, Lower North gained 147 people from 2000 to 2010. This is a small but positive change. Population in some areas is growing while other areas continue to shrink. This large population loss has led to 345 acres of vacant land, almost four thousand vacant buildings, and struggling commercial districts.
Key assets include residents dedicated to their neighborhoods, schools and churches willing to invest, and roughly $1.6 billion in public and private development in the last ten years.
Top planning issues include:
Unemployment, the lack of access to jobs, and the lack of income to support the kinds of retail that residents prefer.
Uneven growth has led some areas to face rebuilding and its related traffic and safety issues, while other areas struggle to attract investment.
Temple University is the district’s biggest economic engine. Its rapid expansion, while contributing to the employment base, has also led to conflicts with neighbors over on-street parking, density, and the scale of new buildings. Most private sector development has consisted of housing for students, generating issues with code enforcement and parking.
Many informal solutions to vacancy have appeared including gardens, parking, business expansion and keeping livestock.
Reliance on subsidies for new housing raises questions about creating or perpetuating concentrations of poverty.
LNO 1 - Investing City resources into viable commercial districts
New streetlights and sidewalks have been installed at Germantown and Lehigh and West Girard Avenue. Both now have viable corridor management organizations. Broad Street and Cecil B Moore Avenue is now managed by the Beech Companies. Front and Kensington and Ridge and Cecil B Moore are awaiting corridor managers and streetscape improvements.
LNO 3 - Maintaining industry on American Street
As of fall 2016, American Street has been rezoned to Industrial Commercial Mix (light industrial and commercial) to unlock the value in formerly medium industrial parcels. The design overlay for American Street has been reconsidered after opposition from civic associations. This recommendation is complete.
Reconstruction of American Street between Girard Avenue and Indiana Avenue, to include new curbs, sidewalks, curb extensions, bicycle lanes, storm water management and landscaping will begin in 2018. This recommendation is complete.
LNO 16 - Implementing high-priority bicycle infrastructure
Marked-shared lanes, sharrows, have been painted on 15th Street. Bicycle lanes on 2nd Street have been reconsidered after community opposition. Instead, bicycle lanes will be installed on American Street during the street’s reconstruction in 2018.
LNO 24 - Improving recreation centers
Repairs have been made to the Cecil B Moore Center. A design process led by the Community Design Collaborative has been completed for Waterloo Playground. Urban Roots and Make the World Better Foundation are refining the design and have committed funding. Both facilities are expected to be included in the City’s Rebuild Philadelphia initiative.
LNO 28 - Nominating historic resources
In 2017, staff from the Planning Commission, Historical Commission and Preservation Alliance reviewed nomination recommendations for all District Plans. Priorities for nominations have been established and staff are moving forward with researching key sites.
District Plans include a wide range of recommendations. Some can be acted upon quickly, while others require additional resources or policy changes, or further planning.