Welcome 2022!

Last year was an exceptionally demanding year for Civic Design Review.  Many of us in the CDR community – neighbors, RCOs, committee members, development teams, and staff – shared a common experience. We endured long meetings together because we are committed to high-quality design in our city.

But it was worth it! Philadelphia City Planning Commission staff and the CDR committee are dedicated to the design review process and to bringing exceptional new public spaces into our neighborhoods. We are eager to see what the new year brings for development!

We expect the high volume of CDR applications to continue in 2022. In looking at our project queue, it remains full.

To help your project get on the CDR agenda, submit all CDR materials at least four weeks before the CDR meeting date that you are requesting. This is new for 2022. This time is critical for staff to:

  • check drawing sets for consistency and completeness
  • perform the Complete Streets analysis
  • collaborate with other City agencies as needed
  • confirm RCO meeting details

Please keep in mind that a timely submission does not guarantee placement on the next agenda. The project simply becomes eligible for a review. Depending on the number of projects in the CDR pipeline it may take up to 10 weeks from the submission of a complete application to a CDR hearing and incomplete submissions can cause further delays. So plan ahead!

There are ways to streamline the process of getting on a CDR agenda:

  • Do not submit your project until L&I has referred it to PCPC
  • Schedule a pre-CDR meeting with PCPC staff for an optional preliminary completeness check
  • Hold the properly noticed RCO meeting at least two weeks before the CDR meeting (projects are more likely to be heard if the RCO meeting is held before staff develops the CDR agenda)

These steps result in a smoother public review. They support high-quality review standards. Staff gets to know each CDR project almost as well as we know each other. Sometimes (no promises!) they can resolve questions that would otherwise cause projects to return for a second review.

The greater CDR community has the unique ability to advocate in real time for good design. At the same time, we patiently wait, sometimes for years, to see the results of our hard work. Thanks to all of you for your on-demand enthusiasm and your long-term vision!

Here’s to the new year! Perhaps we’ll run into each other on a welcoming sidewalk in front of an active storefront.