South District Existing Conditions
PCPC staff and partner City agencies created a series of existing conditions memos to kick off the South District plan. Please find the first and second sets of existing conditions memos here and here.
Historically, immigration has been key to the development and culture of the district, and this continues even today. The South District, similarly to the City overall, has experienced recent increases in population. This is the first time since 1950 that the total population has increased. In the South District, the losses in the white population are counterbalanced by increases in the Asian and Latino populations.
The age composition of the South District is shifting to a slightly younger demographic, with the majority of the population aged between 20 and 64 years old.
Population growth has occurred along the southwest section and through the center of the district, east of South Broad Street.
New construction residential permits over the past eight years are indicative of a strong housing market, moving in from Center City.
The number of total housing units and occupied units has both increased, indicating a very stable housing market.
PCPC staff spent 445 hours over 4 months conducting land use surveys parcel by parcel through the entire South District. Almost half of the land is being used as residential. Consumer commercial, transportation, and industrial uses are the other major contributors to land use. These uses are mainly clustered on the edges of the district and along the major arterials.
Compared with the land use map, there are many discrepancies in the existing zoning. One of the main aims of the district planning process is to ameliorate this spatial mismatch.
The South District is uniquely positioned in that it is adjacent to many major job centers in the City, including Center City, University City, the Stadium District and Navy Yard, the airport, and the Port/retail area on the Delaware River. The largest job sectors are business/professional services, retail/food services, and healthcare/social assistance. 69% of the district’s employed residents work within City boundaries.
Within the district, there are approximately 26 commercial corridors. They range in scale from big box retail, to local pedestrian oriented corridors. The commercial corridors are in varying levels of condition and health.
Also, at the neighborhood level, it is important to direct attention to the physical fabric of the district. South District is very pedestrian-oriented and bolstered by the housing typologies, which are mainly 2 and 3 story rowhomes.
Municipal & Community Serving Public Facilities:
South District contains over 65 City-owned public facilities, including parks, recreation centers, playgrounds and libraries.
The district is well connected through public transit, including many bus lines and the Broad Street Line subway. 40% of households do not own a car, which highlights the importance of public transit in the South District.
7% of district residents cycle to work, which is higher than the citywide average of 2%. The South District also has some of the highest biking rates in the entire country.
One of the aims of the district planning process is to support open space and sustainability measures. A major challenge in the South District is the lack of walkable access (10 minute walk or ½ mile) to green open space. This affects especially a large portion of the population living in the center of the district.
Another aim of the plan is to consider the historic fabric of the district, and to support goals to preserve and maintain important assets. Our historic commission has identified several thematic areas, including parts of South Broad Street and Federal Street, as areas to focus on, in addition to other scattered sites throughout the district.
South Philadelphia is a unique place, and that translates into the public realm and how district residents utilize it. In going through the district planning process, we want to ensure that these unique characteristics are not forgotten.