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Blight certifications and the redevelopment process

Blight certifications and redevelopment plans

The process of government-directed urban redevelopment is set by State Law (PA Title 26 Chapter 2). The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) works with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to redevelop vacant land.

The PCPC determines (“certifies”) that an area is blighted if it meets one or more criteria and creates a Redevelopment Area Plan to improve the area. The Redevelopment Authority then works to make the improvements recommended in the Redevelopment Area Plan. Blight certifications expire after 20 years, but can be renewed.

Redevelopment Area Plans guide the redevelopment of public land in accordance with City policies. They are updated to reflect public plans and priorities.

Criteria for blight as set in state law

The most commonly used criteria are:

  • Unsafe, unsanitary, and inadequate conditions.
  • Economically or socially undesirable land use.
  • Faulty street and lot layout.

Other criteria include:

  • Inadequate planning.
  • Excessive land coverage.
  • Lack of proper light, air, and open space.
  • Defective design and arrangement of buildings.

Urban renewal

Urban renewal—or “the redevelopment process”—is publicly assisted development. It involves condemnation of land, based on federal and state laws dating to the 1940s.

Agencies and decision makers

  • The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority administers urban renewal including condemnation, relocation assistance, site assembly, and selection of a developer.
  • The Philadelphia City Planning Commission reviews Urban Renewal Plans and Redevelopment Agreements. It also prepares and approves Blight Certifications and Redevelopment Area Plans.
  • The Philadelphia City Council and Mayor give final approval for most redevelopment items.

The redevelopment process

The redevelopment process has three steps. At each step, public meetings are held.

Create the legal eligibility

Establish legal eligibility for urban renewal by creating Blight Certification and a Redevelopment Area Plan.

Earmark properties

Earmark properties to be acquired or condemned and designate the proposed uses and land use controls in an Urban Renewal Plan (also called a Redevelopment Proposal).

Convey properties

Convey, or legally transfer, properties to a developer through a Redevelopment Agreement.

Other actions

Other actions involved in redevelopment may include:

  • Purchasing or condemning property.
  • Providing relocation assistance to residents or businesses.
  • Preparing sites to be marketable for development.
  • Marketing, advertising, and requesting development proposals.
  • Reviewing project designs and assuring compliance with Percent for Arts Program requirements.