Assembly and Zoning
Land assembly for reuse and redevelopment is critical
to the stabilization and rebuilding of Philadelphia's neighborhoods.
Although Philadelphia has nearly 60,000 vacant parcels, few are large
enough to support significant commercial, industrial, or residential
In the past, the City assembled
land for redevelopment in a reactive, developer-driven process that
was marked by significant delays and resource constraints. The City is overhauling this land assembly system and implementing a
new approach that is proactive and driven by neighborhood development
considerations. The City has begun to acquire large
quantities of vacant land. By holding title to this land, the City will
be able to market land according to neighborhood plans and to dispose
of the properties without the delays that characterize the current system.
Assembly for Specific Development
Property Disposition Policy
Role of City Council
Community Outreach, Notification and Relocation
Assembly for Specific Development
Requests for acquisition funds to support specific development projects
will be evaluated.
All requests are submitted to the District Councilperson and require his/her support. Proposals will be evaluated favorably if the development projects:
1. Conform with strategic neighborhood plans;
2.Facilitate economic growth by building on market
3. Leverage City resources to the fullest extent
possible by maximizing private investment and minimizing public subsidies
and by making investments that are linked to other public and private
investments in an area.
When evaluating requests for acquisition funds to
support specific development projects, the Administration will consider
criteria such as the developer capacity or track record; the project's
feasibility, budget, and schedule; source and amount of public subsidy,
if any; existing non-City funding commitments; likelihood the developer
will secure the requisite funding for completing the project within
a reasonable period of time; and neighborhood context (e.g., consistency
with neighborhood plans, suitable strategic reuse of the site, likelihood
of stimulating investment activities by others).
The PRA is responsible for permanent relocations due to land acquisition
and redevelopment activities. The PRA adheres to and abide by all
federal and state relocation statutes, regulations and standards and
offer residents all relocation benefits to which they are entitled.
The PRA collaborates with OHCD, District Council staff, and others
as needed, to enhance community outreach, notification, and relocation
support. Recognizing the disruption of lives and the high costs associated
with relocation, the City will make every effort to keep relocations
to a minimum.
Property Disposition Policy
In general, properties are sold at
appraised value - assessed by a certified appraiser at the time of disposition. Properties may
be sold at less than fair market value in the following situations:
1. To support affordable housing developments - developments
with at least 51% low-moderate income beneficiaries;
2. For approved commercial and economic development
projects that create job opportunities for low and moderate-income individuals.
of City Council
The acquisition and disposition of vacant property
will be carried out in accordance with applicable federal, state statues
and local laws, including, but not limited to the following: Section
5-900 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter; Section 16-400 of the Philadelphia
Code; the Urban Redevelopment Authority Law and Redevelopment Cooperation
Law and the Uniform Relocation Act.
Because the highest concentration of vacant properties
is located in certified urban renewal and redevelopment areas, the aggregation
of land for redevelopment will be subject to City Council review. For
example, in order for the PRA to exercise its powers of eminent domain,
the Urban Redevelopment Law requires City Council approvals for the:
1. Creation or modification of Redevelopment Areas;
2. Redevelopment Proposal Plans to support condemnation
of the property by the PRA, including the number of properties that
will be condemned and the proposed reuse;
3. Selling, leasing or transferring of any real property
in a Redevelopment Area to a developer, regardless of the means of acquisition
by the PRA.
Outreach, Notification and Relocation Services
Since the spring of 2003, the PRA has worked constantly to improve its relocation
services. Towards that end, the City has strengthened the review process
for projects seeking condemnation assistance, revised letters from the
PRA to potential relocatees, and changed outreach strategies to include
personal visits to each residence at the beginning of the process. In
addition to the public notification requirements mandated in the federal
Uniform Relocation Act, the PRA is working closely with District Councilmembers
to engage and alert residents far in advance of the City Council public
hearings. This includes meetings with the directly affected residents,
PRA staff and the District Council member to discuss the proposed project
and the rights of the individual or household in the relocation process.
The purpose of these meetings is to establish a working relationship
between the City and neighborhood residents and to provide accurate
information about the relocation process.
The City is making an effort to include all Philadelphians
access to the public process. To reach the Latino community, the PRA
has hired two bilingual relocation specialists and translated all its
letters, brochures and print materials relating to relocation into Spanish.
Until HUD recently provided its relocation materials in Spanish, PRA
retained a translator to translate all HUD-originated relocation materials.
In addition, PRA legal notices pertaining to acquisition and planning
processes are published in a Spanish-language newspaper.
The following OHCD-funded translation services are
also available when needed:
1. Translators are available to provide simultaneous
verbal translation at community meetings.
2. Acquisition and relocation materials can be translated
into Asian languages by Intercultural Family Services, Korean Community
Development Services Center; into Eastern European languages by Polish
American Social Services; and into Braille by the Radio Center for the
In every case the City works with community-based
organizations to determine which of the above services are necessary
in the community and PRA's relocation staff visits households to identify
any communication barriers and then gather the appropriate resources.