Philadelphia Permits and Coronavirus: The Basics

NOTE: This post was written on Tuesday, March 17th before Governor Tom Wolf shut down all construction in Pennsylvania on March 19th, and before construction was allowed to resume in May 2020. If you’re looking for the current state of the COVID-19 shutdown in Philly, as it relates to permits and construction, please see this article.

Hey Philly! Quite a week we’re having. On Friday, March 12th, the City’s permit center closed for the installation of a new software system. On Monday, March 16th, the City shut down all of its own non-essential functions and shuttered non-essential businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The permit center in the Municipal Services Building and the district offices are closed to the public till at least the 27th. Despite all this, remote work and construction are both exempted from this order, [UPDATE: this order was issued before the statewide shutdown of construction sites] so we can still process Philadelphia permits during coronavirus!

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Philadelphia Zoning Guide: Industrial Zoning in Philadelphia

Industrial zoning in Philadelphia

Industrial Zoning = Hipster Zoning

Welcome back to Permit Philly’s Philadelphia zoning guide!  In this series, we’ve covered commercial zoning in Philadelphia, single-family residential zoning, multi-family residential zoning, and the age-old question, “Yo, can I turn my single-family house into a multi-family house?”  But you’re not here for that conventional stuff: you’re into the darker, grittier, back catalogue of Philadelphia zoning.  Artistic zoning.  Hipster zoning.  You want to know about old factories, and the best places to start a craft brewery, and where to get like just a super fly loft space for your innovative yet socially empowering start-up.  You’re the kind of person who walks around Kensington, sees graffitied factory towers, and thinks, “I bet we could use this as a distillery but also a community center.”  You want to learn about industrial zoning in Philadelphia.

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Philadelphia Zoning Guide: CMX Building Overview

Philadelphia Zoing Guide

Welcome to Permit Philly’s Philadelphia Zoning Guide!

I was recently at a neighborhood meeting where a member of the group casually observed that the Philadelphia Code allows for an 8.5-foot-wide garage, but should really allow only a 9.5-foot-wide garage.  If you are this person, you might not need this blog post.  But for most of us in Philly – and especially for developers and ambitious homeowners – It’s useful to go over the uses and general Philadelphia zoning rules about buildings to get a sense of what the City does and doesn’t want.  So here’s our Philadelphia zoning guide series.

First, we’ll handle the commercial buildings that also allow residential use:  Commercial MiXed-use, or CMX.

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Zoning or Use Variance

Philadelphia zoning variance

In our last post, we covered the basic terms and ideas of the zoning process in Philly.  Now, let’s talk about the most complicated parts of the process:  The Philadelphia zoning variance and special exception process.

In Philly’s zoning rules, property owners or tenants might want to use their space differently than Philly’s zoning code allows.  This can be done, but only after special applications are filed, neighborhood groups review the proposal, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment approves the proposal.

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