Council Session Wrap-Up

The highlights of this morning's weekly City Council session included two long-lingering land issues and a win for Mayor Nutter in how city departments hire top deputies.

Councilman Frank DiCicco introduced legislation to change the zoning for the former New Market property in Society Hill.  Renamed "Stamper Square," the project calls for a 15-story hotel and condominiums.  Developer Marc Stein needs a zoning change, which will be the subject of a public hearing, to build higher than six stories on the site.  Will Smith previously envisioned a W hotel on the parcel bordered by Front, Second, Pine and Lombard streets. The Society Hill Civic Association took no position on the project after a 12-12 vote last month.

Councilman Brian O'Neill saw passage of his legislation allowing the Fox Chase Cancer Center to expand onto 19 acres of nearby Burholme Park.  As we reported last month, this legislation stalled at the end of Mayor Street's administration but was revived by Mayor Nutter. "I think we got lucky because this deal was unraveling," O'Neill said today. Fox Chase will pay the city $4 million to find replacement park land in the neighborhood.

Council also approved a proposed City Charter change from Mayor Nutter to expand the power of department heads to hire more deputies. The measure, which will be placed on the April 22 primary election ballot, boosts the number of deputies that can be hired from two to 10, with up to four allowed to be hired from outside the city. Only  Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell voted against the proposal.  Blackwell today repeated her concerns that she isn't sure all city departments need that many deputies and she wanted more information before offering her support.