In the Zone with Clementa Amazan – Episode 2

Written by: Clementa Amazan

'In the Zone with Clementa Amazan' is a video series that discusses the bonuses provided by the city that allow for additional height, floor area, and density, a terrific option for developers trying to avoid the variance process. In episode 2, we will be covering the green roof bonus.

What is the Green Roof Bonus?

In our premiere episode of In the Zone with Clementa Amazan, we discussed the mixed-income housing bonus in the city of Philadelphia. In the latest episode, we discuss the city’s green roof bonus, which provides developers the opportunity to increase density in their development projects. This bonus can be applied to properties in R​M-1, CMX-1, CMX-2, and CMX-2.5 zoning districts. Eligibility for the bonus is predicated on the dwelling units being located in a building with a green roof, which must cover at least 60% of the rooftop. For​new buildings, the building construction requires a minimum of 5,000 square feet of earth disturbance, as determined by the water department.  Alternatively, for existing buildings, or expansions of existing buildings, the building requires a minimum footprint of 5,000 square feet.

After assuring that their property falls under these regulations, the applicant must also execute a recorded deed in favor of the city, which requires the green roof to be constructed and maintained, at a minimum, in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines, where applicable, and with the water department standards. The green roof must be safely accessible and made available for inspection with reasonable notice given by the city.

A Recent Example

Recently, we worked on a CMX​-2 project in which we were able to combine both the green roof bonus and the mixed-income housing bonus. Under the zoning for this particular project, 43 units and 1 commercial unit were permitted as of right. If the green roof bonus was applied, 10 additional residential units would be allowed on the property, bringing the total number of residential units to approximately 53, with 1 commercial unit. Next, we applied the mixed-income housing bonus.  As we discussed in the last episode of In the Zone, the mixed-income housing bonus has two levels of affordability; moderate-income and low income. Developers also retain the option of either providing affordable units or making a payment into the city’s trust fund.

For this particular project, if our client determined that they wanted to provide moderate-income housing, they would have to provide at least 6 residential units. And again, alternatively, they have the option of paying into the city’s trust. For this project, the payment would have to be around $423,000. The green roof bonus would allow them to have 10 additional residential units at the moderate-income level. And if low-income units were provided, an additional 7 low-income units. In total, our client would be permitted 21 additional residential units. The payment into the city’s trust fund in this scenario would be $630,000. Utilizing the low-income bonus would allow for the development of 64 residential units and 1 commercial unit on the property.

Another option for our client is to stack the bonuses. If they were to decide that they wanted to go for the green reef bonus in addition to the moderate-income bonus (which would require seven residential units to be provided or the payment of $423,000) they would be able to get approval for 13 additional residential units, in addition to the 1 commercial unit that was allowed as of right. This would add up to about 66 residential units and 1 commercial unit on the property. Alternatively, if our client decided to stack the green roof bonus with the low-income housing bonus, they would have the option of either providing 8 residential units at the low-income level or making a payment to the city of about $780,000. In this case, they would be able to have 26 additional residential units on the property, with a grand total of 79 residential units and 1 commercial unit on the property.

At Nochumson P.C., we are more than legal counsel. We are people serving our neighbors and community in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Knowing that real communication between real people can help lead to real positive results, our team of attorneys are available 24/7 to help answer your legal questions and to fight for you with skill and fortitude, whatever the case may be. When you hire us, you can expect a sensible and cost-effective approach to legal counsel. We think fast, think ahead, and get things done.