Development in Philly hits record pace

Philadelphia is on track for record breaking construction activity in 2022. 

By Julian Domanico

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) has been approving permits left and right that have the potential of paving the way to constructing approximately 10,000 new rental units across the City. This is about 3 times the average total number built in a given year. Even more surprising, during the same period, a total of 90 proposed developments went before the Civic Design Review (CDR) board, which makes non-binding suggestions for projects that meet certain criteria depending on size and location. The number roughly doubles the average yearly volume and has set a record for CDR submissions.

Because of the significant increase in submissions, the Civic Design Review has created new guidelines. The deadline for the submission of projects before the board has now been extended from three to four weeks prior to the hearing date, in order to give CDR members enough time to share their comments.

The number of new developments has reached such a fever pitch that, in December 2021, the City of Philadelphia increased the staff at the Historical Commission to ensure historically significant buildings are not needlessly demolished during this construction surge.

Insiders from within the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University suggested that the high permit volume stems from developers rushing to secure permits before the end of 2021, which marked the expiration of the full ten-year tax abatement program, and ushers its replacement for 2022 with a less developer-lenient scheme.

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