The bills further Recommendations of the Historic Preservation Task Force

PHILADELPHIA – Under legislation introduced today in City Council, historic churches would become easier to preserve and redevelop. Bills were introduced to change the City’s zoning code to better support historic preservation by allowing by-right zoning for special purpose historic buildings, reduce parking requirements for historic building redevelopment, and allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in historic buildings.

Each change would make it easier and more economical to preserve historic properties. The bills were among the key recommendations of the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Task Force. Councilmember Squilla introduced the package of bills at Mayor Kenney’s request.

“The work of our Historic Preservation Task Force has shown that sometimes our zoning code gets in the way of protecting our historic resources,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “This legislation is a step in the right direction to remove some of those hurdles.”

“I am pleased to have served on the Historic Preservation Task Force and offer legislation to address the obstacles faced when trying to renovate and re-purpose historical properties,” said Councilmember Squilla. “These bills preserve Philadelphia’s historic architecture by allowing thoughtful renovations that will keep the buildings in use for generations to come.”

Certain types of historic buildings, such as churches, theaters and gymnasiums, are often not zoned to allow residential or commercial adaptive reuse. The bill introduced today would allow redevelopment by-right for uses allowable in residential or neighborhood commercial mixed-use districts.

Parking requirements add significant cost to redevelopment and limit flexibility of design. The bill introduced today eliminates parking requirements for redevelopment of historic buildings. It also reduces parking requirements by 50 percent if a historic building is being expanded.

ADUs are a second residential unit in building or on a property that can be rented. The bill introduced today makes ADUs a by-right use in a historic building. This offers the owner the opportunity to gain additional resources to maintain and preserve the resource.

The legislation continues actions taken by the Kenney Administration to implement Task Force recommendations. Since the Task Force report was issued, the administration has begun negotiations with a vendor to customize software to support a survey of historic properties; appointed a historic preservationist to the Civic Design Review Committee; and convened a policy team to review historic preservation issues that cut across multiple departments.

“We are pleased that Mayor Kenney and Councilmember Squilla have moved so quickly on these recommendations,” said Paul Steinke, executive director of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. “We urge Council to consider these bills as soon as possible in the fall.”