My wife and I have a corner rental property in Fishtown. We are looking into a curb knockout and conversion of half of the back yard into an off street parking spot. We have found that The City of Philadelphia has a very complicated system in place from initial research and so I’m looking for advice on this process, and possibly a reference to a contractor or service that specializes in this type of project. We were originally trying to handle this ourselves but are open to paying someone to help in the process and execute the actual work. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
@Miles Moser - all the info to do this is on the phila.gov website. In brief, yes it will be a lot of work. YES you want to hire a GC/experienced contractor who has done this before to ride shotgun and help you with this because it's no easy feat. You likely are required to submit formal design plans (with measurements, etc) showing your intent/location etc of the parking spot, to the local RCO and City of Phila Zoning board.
First and foremost to consider: Your corner lot.. the side where you want to install the curb cutout.. is there parking on that side of the street? If so, your local RCO (and likely city of philly) will reject your request. Second, do you have enough in your rear yard to allow for outdoor parking that does NOT obstruct the sidewalk or come within certain distance to the curbline? There's strict guidelines on the space you need in/around the vehicle, distance to sidewalks and curbs so you need to ensure your property truly has enough space in consideration of these requirements. Most row homes are 15-17' wide, at most. So adding in a security gate or party-wall (between you and the neighbors) takes away a foot easily.
I used to own a duplex in south philly with a GRANDFATHERED DOUBLE GARAGE with curbcuts. We had to tear down and rebuild the garage.. that was a year long process! Involved architechts for drawing the structure, measuring the whole property line, showing curb cutouts, etc. Luckily my curb cutouts were on the side of the street where NO PARKING is posted so easy to keep the cutouts. It was not an easy process, so YES.. get some help from a professional on this! It'll be worth the money in the end, IF this can go through and be approved.
You will need streets department approvals and will need a zoning permit for the use. Most zoning districts do not permit surface parking as a matter of right. Therefore, you will more than likely generate a refusal for the use and potentially a second refusal if the proposed parking space does not meet the required dimensional standards. We recently obtained relief legalizing two surface parking spaces on a corner parcel in Fairmount. Would be happy to share more details on the process and look into your particular case.
@Stuart Udis - did your post imply that there was a parcel in Fairmount where the value of parking was more than building something? Or was that parking area simply done on just a piece of the parcel?
In our particular case, the parcel was developed as a 4 unit condo building. However, due to the 20% open area requirement in the RM1 district we had open area in the rear of the parcel. This space was more valuable as parking.