Strategic Plan For Callowhill & Chinatown North

Plan reaffirms City’s intentions to build park on viaduct structure.

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission has adopted a strategic plan for the Callowhill and Chinatown North neighborhoods that includes proposals for new zoning controls, park spaces, and streets to create a more pedestrian-friendly scale in this recently industrial area.

The plan, which is part of the Commission’s ongoing Philadelphia2035 planning effort, was adopted on Feb. 19. It provides in-depth recommendations for the area, which spans from Delaware Avenue to Broad Street, Vine to Spring Garden and Fairmount Ave. A plan for the entire Central District, which stretches roughly from Girard to Washington Avenues between the two rivers, will be unveiled in draft form to the public following an open house at 5:00 pm in the Mayor’s Reception Room on February 27.

The City Planning Commission decided to give special attention to the Callowhill and Chinatown North areas due to several factors: outdated zoning, the industrial layouts of the areas and the increased interest from developers in certain parcels, particularly those along North Broad Street and the abandoned Reading Viaduct.
The plan reaffirms the City’s intention to construct a park on the viaduct structure. It also calls for rezoning 70 acres of land to permit a mix of residential and light industrial uses, a combination that the City’s recently adopted zoning code allows. Industrial land between 5th Street and the Delaware River would transition to medium density commercial and residential development, while zoning along the growing North Broad Street corridor would permit higher density development.

The plan proposes a number of infrastructure improvements to support the new development, including increased parking along the Ridge Avenue commercial corridor, doubling the area’s bike network and creating new park spaces prior to the transformation of the viaduct. Noble Street, a narrow east-west street removed during the 1960s, would be reintroduced to the street grid to improve circulation and create a more typical neighborhood scale.

Zoning and infrastructure changes are also the focus of the City’s forthcoming plan for the entire Central District. Plan’s major recommendations include the growth of a new neighborhood bordering Franklin Square, exploration of new rapid bus service in an underground rail tunnel and filling in the most prominent development gaps remaining in the city’s core, including key blocks on both east and west Market Street.

“In and around Center City, we are seeing significant population growth and a corresponding boom in new development projects,” said Gary Jastrzab, Executive Director of the City Planning Commission. “Philadelphia2035 is about charting a course for the city’s future that builds on our current strengths. The Central District Plan and Callowhill/Chinatown North Plan are tools to help decision-makers identify priorities and allocate limited resources strategically. Our office looks forward to working with City Council on the zoning aspects and helping our partner agencies move forward with the proposed improvements.”

The Callowhill/Chinatown North Strategic Plan is available on the Planning Commission’s website,

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