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'I Think It's The Anti-Development Bill': New Roof Deck Ban Could Be Coming To Part Of Strawberry Mansion

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Home buyers in Philadelphia often look for roof decks, but a new roof deck ban could be coming to a part of Strawberry Mansion. Some Philadelphia City Council members who support the bill say they want to stop developers from changing the overall historic look of Strawberry Mansion.

Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion neighborhood is becoming a hot spot for developers, especially the area bordering the east side of Fairmount Park, with its wide streets, proximity to the Schuylkill Expressway and its large homes, with ornate facades.

"What we've seen is people were purchasing properties, they were buying not conducive to the character of that particular neighborhood," said City Council President Darrell Clarke.

Clarke has a bill, he says, would preserve Strawberry Mansion's historical character.

The bill would create a zone that protects homes closest to Fairmount Park and would call it a neighborhood conservation overlay district.

The proposed district would enforce building regulations like restricting the height of new homes between two or three stories, depending on street width. The bill also reads "roof decks and roof access structures shall be prohibited."

"I think it's the anti-development bill," said Logan Kramer, CEO of the Brewerytown-based Design Pro Development.

"I had planned to invest in over $60 million in Strawberry Mansion over the next five years," he said. "If this bill passes, I'm probably going to take that money and put it into suburban developments I own."

Meantime, realtors point out homebuyers could help improve Strawberry Mansion but a roof deck ban may force some to look elsewhere.

"We have tons of evidence, both from Philadelphia and elsewhere, about how you can create policies that will help grow a community and grow the economy, while simultaneously protecting the long-term residents of the community. And that doesn't seem to be what they're doing here," said Gregg Kravitz.

Some people who live in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood tell us that roof decks don't necessarily bother them but many do worry about new or renovated homes. Some going for more than $400,000, could end up increasing their property taxes.

They blame developers.

"The real estate market right now is up so I think they just see dollar signs," said Jeff Walker.

Kravitz points elected officials should pass legislation that both protects long-term residents and allows for development.

The bill passed the rules committee today. It's expected to have its first of two readings when Philadelphia City Council meets Thursday.


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