A Case Study in Philadelphia’s Newly Minted Redevelopment Metric
ABSTRACT: Although the City of Philadelphia employs a catalogue of legal codes and laws to manage its urban growth, its inclusion of a “Social Impact” metric in a recent project is equally novel and vague. Opportunistically leveraging a prominent and sizable block, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority issued a Request for Proposals that required the developers to not only demonstrate how they would benefit the social fabric of the city, but provide metrics in order to do so.
While measuring social impact is fraught with difficulties, it shows a willingness of the city to scrutinize the effect of its architecture on the city as a whole. Over the past decade, Philadelphia has enacted drastic shifts in its urban planning protocols ranging from an overhaul of its zoning maps to a restructuring of property tax evaluation.
This paper will examine the first project to emerge from this process: a mixed use development that includes housing, a chain hotel, and the Equal Justice Center. It will describe the emergence of the social metric, position it among other current planning mechanisms aimed at equitable development, and speculate about its potential impact.
KEYWORDS: Social Impact, Urban Development, Philadelphia Redevelopment
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