A bill that would have banned college students from renting apartments on luxurious Rittenhouse Square - and a huge swath of its surrounding neighborhood - was amended Wednesday and now will only apply to a single block.
The bill initially sought to prohibit "housing, not owner-occupied, for students" along with boarding homes and frat houses in an area bounded by Spruce Street to the south and Walnut Street to the north between 17th and 21st Streets.
The neighborhood includes some of the priciest real estate and swankiest shopping in Philadelphia.
The push to bar an Animal House on Rittenhouse was put forward in September, when Councilman Bill Greenlee introduced the bill on behalf of Council President Darrell Clarke.
Jane Roh, spokeswoman for Clarke, said in an email that the bill was introduced "at the request of residents who were concerned about an increase in the concentration of student housing in the area."
Opponents claimed that a government ban on any demographic segment would be unconstitutional.
After several months of wrangling among neighborhood groups, the bill was scaled back significantly Wednesday to include only the 2000 block of Rittenhouse Square Street, a quiet stretch that remains primarily residential. That block also happens to be where two projects – a nine-unit and a six-unit building - are under construction by real estate developer Steven Savitz.
"Residents told us that (Savitz) explicitly said he would only rent to students," Roh said, "which of course raised their concerns."
Reached this morning, Savitz denied that was his plan.
"It's 100 percent not student housing," Savitz said. "They misunderstood me. I've never done student housing and I have no intention of doing student housing."
Savitz said the confusion was borne out of a conversation he held with neighborhood residents during the planning stages.
"They wanted me to (to construct) very large luxury one bedroom units versus two bedroom or three bedroom," he said. "I said that doesn't work for this project. My clientele is young professionals and working students. I said that word, 'student' and that's what they grabbed onto.
"It's a complete misunderstanding," he said.
The amended bill deletes the mentions of rooming, boarding and frat houses and no longer bans students outright.
Instead, the bill will prohibit housing on the block that would be rented only to students - defined as fulltime undergrads under 23 years old - or any marketing that would include the phrase "student housing" or any other term suggesting rentals available only to students.
A portion of the amended complaint is pictured below:
Contact Sam Wood at 215-854-2796, @samwoodiii or firstname.lastname@example.org.