City officials and residents of Center City's Logan Square neighborhood will have the summer to wrangle over a proposed 1,500-foot skyscraper - it would be the nation's tallest - that would be built at 18th and Arch Streets.
Councilman Darrell L. Clarke introduced a bill yesterday to change zoning at the site to allow for the American Commerce Center, a soaring complex of office space, hotel rooms, retail and entertainment. The building would edge out Chicago's Sears Tower, which reaches 1,451 feet, as the tallest building in the United States.
Clarke's bill would require strict design oversight from the City Planning Commission and could prove a test for the increased role that Mayor Nutter wants the commission to play.
The commission is expected to hold public hearings over the next two months. The development partnership, which includes Walnut Street Capital, has not yet identified any tenants for the proposed building.
Even before Clarke introduced his legislation, opposition was simmering among neighborhood groups, especially the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, which has already retained veteran Philadelphia zoning lawyer Joseph Beller.
State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, the Philadelphia Democrat in whose district the tower would be built, called yesterday for an "end to spot zoning."
"This is totally out of scale with the rest of Center City," he said.
The city's tallest building, the 975-foot Comcast Center, is a block away, at 17th and Arch Streets.
Fumo spokesman Gary Tuma said Fumo believed city officials needed to draft a "comprehensive plan for what we want the skyline to look like."
Tuma said the building would be within 25 feet of the Sterling House and several other long-standing residential buildings. "These people deserve a chance to speak about this," he said.