PHILADELPHIA-In addition to its annual “State of Center City” report, Center City District and Central Philadelphia Development Corp. has published “Center City: Planning for Growth, 2008-2012.” The second report was developed with input from seven design firms and focuses on four distinct Center City districts: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Broad Street and City Hall, West Market Street and JFK Boulevard, and East Market Street.

It arose from “concerns that major real estate decisions are being made today only on a project-by-project basis and significant opportunities are being missed,” according to Paul Levy, president of CCD and CPDC. The recommendations in the document, he says, “are not meant as end-state plans, but rather as suggestions that should be formally considered, revised and adopted by the next mayor as a flexible framework for growth.”

They can occur, Levy adds, “during the first term of Philadelphia’s next mayor.” The report comes at a time when former councilman Michael Nutter emerged from the contentious May 15 mayoral primary as the acknowledged leading candidate for that post.

Suggestions range from minor to major. A better balance between pedestrians and vehicles and improved access to the Parkway head the agenda for that district. The report cites “empty distances” between cultural institutions. In preparation for the creation of the Barnes Foundation here, the Olin Partnership recommends an adjoining café that would “directly engage” the sidewalk along the Parkway.

The Convention Center expansion is expected to help invigorate Broad Street to the north of City Hall. A short-term solution to mitigating the barrier effect of the Vine Street Expressway is a reconfiguration of traffic patterns. The report suggests long-term consideration of covering the expressway.

The West Market Street corridor is seen as “well-positioned to emerge as a mixed-use development zone,” and the report calls for enhancing its link to University City. Retail is the primary focus of development along East Market Street, which links the historic Independence Mall area with the Convention Center.

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