Heavy emphasis on Viaduct redevelopment in Callowhill, Chinatown plan

reading viaduct
Rikard Larma/Metro. Formerly an elevated railway line, the Reading Viaduct is currently abandoned.

The City Planning Commission last week adopted a strategic plan for the neighborhoods of Callowhill and Chinatown North. The plan heavily emphasizes the city’s oft-announced intention to transform the abandoned Reading Viaduct into an elevated park and includes suggestions to make the historically industrial area more pedestrian friendly.

“The plan reaffirms the city’s intention to construct a park on the viaduct structure,” a release from Mayor Michael Nutter’s Office stated. “It also calls for rezoning 70 acres of land to permit a mix of residential and light industrial uses, a combination that the city’s recently adopted zoning code allows.”

Land between 5th Street and the Delaware River currently zoned for industrial use would change to allow more medium commercial and residential construction, while higher-density development would be permitted in areas along the burgeoning North Broad Street corridor.

Callowhill and Chinatown North fall under the Central District umbrella of the Commission’s Philadelphia2035 zoning effort. The two neighborhoods were given special attention during the district planning process due to outdated zoning, industrial layouts and increased interest from developers, particularly in land along the Reading Viaduct and North Broad Street.

“Philadelphia2035 is about charting a course for the city’s future that builds on our current strengths,” said City Planning Commission director Gary Jastrzab, citing significant growth in both population and development around Center City.  “The Central District Plan and Callowhill/Chinatown North Plan are tools to help decision-makers identify priorities and allocate limited resources strategically.”

A final draft of the Central District Plan will be unveiled to the public at City Hall tomorrow night following a 5 p.m. open house.

The Central District Plan is expected to address neighborhood growth bordering Franklin Square, the possibility of a rapid underground bus service and how to fill in development gaps in the city’s core, including blocks on east and west Market Street.

 

Coming changes

 

 

Other changes Callowhill and Chinatown North residents may soon see, if the plan is implemented, include:

>> More parking along the Ridge Avenue commercial corridor and along the viaduct.

>> Twice as many bike lanes.

>> The reintroduction to the street grid of narrow east-west alley Noble Street in a bid to improve traffic circulation.


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