§14-1608. Chinatown Special District Controls. [325]


(1) Legislative Findings. The Council finds that:

(a) Major public and private investments have been made and continue to be made in and around the Chinatown section of the City to enhance visual aesthetics, preserve historic and cultural amenities, prevent declining property values and encourage economic investment and tourism, and protect the economic vitality of this section of Philadelphia;

(b) Public expenditures have included appropriations for improvement of vehicular access, street and sidewalk improvements, landscaping and sound barriers to enhance and protect Chinatown;

(c) Private investment within and immediately adjacent to Chinatown includes the rehabilitation, restoration and construction of numerous properties in Chinatown, the Gallery shopping complex, the proposed Center City Convention Center, and new construction within the Independence Mall Urban Renewal Area;

(d) The large amount of public and private investment in the areas adjacent to Chinatown, namely, within the Independence Mall Urban Renewal Area, the Convention Center Urban Renewal Area, Market Street East Urban Renewal Area, and the Vine Street Parkway may pose a threat to the retention of the unique historic, cultural and aesthetic character of Chinatown;

(e) Chinatown is important to the economic vitality and diverse character of Center City Philadelphia in that it serves as a major tourist attraction and as a cultural center for Chinese and Asian Americans and immigrants within the region;

(f) Chinatown is a neighborhood consisting predominantly of residences and small scale retail development surrounded by intense commercial, industrial and institutional development and as such a community, which is home and/or place of employment to thousands of Philadelphians, it should be preserved and protected from negative influences from surrounding development activity;

(g) Therefore, special land use and zoning controls providing for limitation on commercial and industrial activity and imposing bulk and height limits are required to protect the historic, cultural, aesthetic, residential and economic vitality of this section of the City.

(2) Purpose of the District. This special district is established in order to preserve and encourage the revitalization of the section of the City known as Chinatown. It is recognized that this section of the City is unique as a cultural nucleus supported predominantly by residential, small scale commercial and light industrial activities and has developed into a vital, mixed use district containing many various uses within blocks and many various uses within buildings. As this pattern contributes to the distinctive atmosphere of Chinatown, Council recognizes the need to establish special land use and zoning controls to foster the preservation and development of this section of the City in accordance with its special character.

(3) District Boundaries. For the purposes of this section, the Chinatown Special District regulations shall apply to all the properties within the area bounded as follows and depicted on Map "A":

(a) On the north, the south street line of Vine street; on the east, the westerly edge of the Center City Commuter Connection Tunnel east of Ninth street; on the south, the north street line of Arch street; and, on the west, the east street line of Eleventh street.

(b) Properties with frontage on Camac street between Vine street on the north, Race street on the south, Eleventh street on the east and Thirteenth street on the west.

(4) Permitted Uses. Within the Chinatown Special District (Map "A") and notwithstanding any other Chapter of this Title, properties may be used only in accordance with the following regulations:

(a) The uses permitted in the "C-2" Commercial District, subject to all use qualifications set forth therein and subject to all use prohibitions set forth below.

(5) Prohibited Uses. Within the Chinatown Special District (Map "A") and notwithstanding any other Chapter of this Title, the following uses shall be prohibited:

(a) Amusement Arcades;

(b) Athletic and drill hall, dance hall, and other entertainment of guests and patrons as a main use;

(c) Automobile repair shop, automobile service station for the retail sale of automobile fuels, lubricants and accessories, retail sale and installation of automobile parts, tires or audio equipment, car wash, automobile sale lot;

(d) Billiards, pool and bowling;

(e) Bottling and/or distribution of liquids for human consumption;

(f) Central heating plant;

(g) Courtroom and courthouse building;

(h) Garages as a main use, and public parking lot;

(i) Installation of auto, boat, motorcycle or truck parts;

(j) Laboratories (analytical, chemical and research) and assay offices;

(k) Non-accessory outdoor advertising signs and billboards;

(l) Penal and correctional institutions;

(m) Trolley and bus terminals, and car and bus barns.

(6) Bulk and Height Controls. Within a portion of the Chinatown Special District north of the rear property lines of properties fronting on Arch street between Ninth street and Tenth street and north of the north street line of Appletree street between Tenth street and Eleventh street (Map "B") and notwithstanding any other Chapter of this Title, the following bulk and height controls shall apply:

(a) Maximum Height. The maximum height of any building shall not exceed sixty feet or six stories, provided that additions to existing buildings which do not increase the gross floor area of the building by more than one hundred (100) percent may be built to a height (in both feet and stories) not to exceed the existing building, provided that all of the yard, open space, and floor area ratio requirements are met.