Philadelphia Leads the Way in Adaptive Reuse

Philadelphia, a city rife with historic architecture, seeks to incentivize more conversion of historic buildings into housing.

2 minute read

May 2, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

City Hall Philadelphia

DMZ111 / Flickr

According to an article by Taylor Allen, “The number of old buildings being converted into apartments is on the rise across the country. Converted units have nearly quadrupled since 2010, from 5,271 to 20,122 by the end of 2021.” Focusing on Philadelphia, Allen notes that “Philadelphia converted a total of 1,863 units in 2020 and 2021 combined, the most of any U.S. city over that two-year period, according to a report from Rent Cafe.”

However, in part due to the higher cost of converting old buildings, “The overwhelming majority of redevelopment in the city is still new construction, according to Drexel University economist Kevin Gillen.” The city aims to change that through incentives that encourage developers to repurpose old buildings. “A bill that took effect this year is starting to phase out the city's 10-year property tax abatement for new residential construction. But, there’s a caveat for converted properties, which get to keep the entire 10-year tax incentive.” Additionally, “As of 2019, Rehab projects that are historically designated don't have to provide parking, and some get zoning perks.”

Paul Steinke, executive director of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, expressed hope that affordable housing developers could play a larger role in the conversion of historic buildings. “It'd be great to see more adaptive reuse for affordable housing since there’s quite a bit for market-rate housing,” Steinke said.

Thursday, April 28, 2022 in Axios

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Urban sidewalk shaded by large mature trees

Cool Walkability Planning

Shadeways (covered sidewalks) and pedways (enclosed, climate controlled walkways) can provide comfortable walkability in hot climates. The Cool Walkshed Index can help plan these facilities.

June 1, 2023 - Todd Litman

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Congestion Pricing Could Be Coming to L.A.

The infamously car-centric city is weighing a proposed congestion pricing pilot program to reduce traffic and encourage public transit use.

May 30, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

View of New York City alleyway with outdoor restaurant seating and people walking between brick apartment buildings with fire escapes

As Business Districts Continue to Falter, Mixed-Use Neighborhoods Flourish

While office vacancies remain high and foot traffic sparse in many U.S. downtowns, areas with housing and businesses are more vibrant and desirable than ever.

5 hours ago - The Wall Street Journal

Beachside basketball couty with ocean view and blue painted court at Angel Gate Park in Los Angeles, California on a sunny day

Los Angeles County's 30x30 Strategy Earns National Recognition

L.A. County's Parks Needs Assessment Plus (PNA+) received a 2023 achievement award from the National Association of Counties (NACo).

6 hours ago - National Association of Counties

A spraling subdivision of single-family detached housing in a desert setting.

Albuquerque Poised to Legalize Accessory Dwelling Units

Allowing ADU construction on parcels previously zoned exclusively for single-family detached housing is one component of the Housing Forward ABQ initiative, a larger effort to reform zoning practices in Albuquerque.

7 hours ago - Albuquerque Journal

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.