Appeal from the Orders of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia County, in case of A Condemnation Proceeding in Rem by Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia, for the Purpose of Redevelopment of Franklin Town Project, Philadelphia, Including Certain Land, Improvements and Properties, No. 4488 April Term, 1973.
David Freeman, for appellants.
Michael Churchill, with him Peter A. Galante, General Counsel, William T. Steerman, Special Counsel, and Nicholas J. Scafidi, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 274]
Consolidated for disposition in the instant case are appeals by Thomas Lazar and Philip B. Basser (Appellants) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County dismissing preliminary objections to a declaration of taking filed by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia (Redevelopment Authority). We affirm that order.
On April 26, 1973, the Redevelopment Authority filed a declaration of taking of an area comprising approximately fifty acres within the City of Philadelphia bounded on the east by Sixteenth Street, on the west by 21st Street, on the south by Race Street and on the north by Spring Garden Street. Preliminary objections
[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 275]
were filed by a number of property owners in the area. Settlements reduced the number to seven and they are before us in the action in its present posture. After weeks of extensive hearings, the Court of Common Pleas, in an exhaustive and ably articulated opinion by Judge Takiff, dismissed the preliminary objections.
The area involved in this taking is a combination of residential, industrial, institutional, light industry and commercial uses. Previously (January 1952), it had been certified as a Redevelopment Area by the City Planning Commission and had then been recertified in 1967 when the comprehensive plan of the Planning Commission renewed its call for redevelopment of the area.
The results of the various studies were introduced into evidence which demonstrated that over the years the area had excessive land coverage by buildings, and that it lacked proper light, air and open space in addition to its having faulty street and lot layouts, traffic and circulation deficiencies, excessive dwelling density and miscellaneous environmental deficiencies. In each certification by the City Planning Commission and in the various summary reports compiled by the comprehensive planning division of the Planning Commission based on criteria of the Urban Redevelopment Law, Act of May 24, 1945, P.L. 991, as amended, 35 P.S. § 1701 et seq., the area was certified as "blighted." Appellants concede that the area is "blighted" for purposes of this appeal.
The area, publicly identified as "Franklin Town," was considered for development by a joint venture consisting of Philadelphia Electric Company, Smith Kline Corporation, ITE Imperial, The Korman Corporation and Butcher & Sherred, and was envisioned by them as a complete non-subsidized or non-assisted project, so that the total cost of the project would be borne by the Redeveloper alone, rather than a project which required public money subsidies. In 1969, following consultation
[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 276]
with the Redevelopment Authority, the Planning Commission and the Mayor, the feasibility of the project as a non-assisted project was determined limiting public aid to the employment of the authority of Eminent Domain.
By Resolution No. 7522 of the Redevelopment Authority, Franklin Town (then a joint venture) was conditionally approved as redeveloper for the project and an assistance agreement was executed between the joint venture and the Redevelopment Authority on June 16, 1971, whereby the Redevelopment Authority would render professional and technical service required for the preparation of a redevelopment proposal, preparation of ordinances, acquisition of properties, management of acquired properties and other services with all of the direct and indirect costs for the same to be paid by the Redeveloper. Following public meetings, the Redevelopment Authority, on September 3, 1971, by its formal Resolution No. 7635 reaffirmed its selection of Franklin Town as developer after considering the developers' financial ability to acquire the area. It approved the redevelopment proposal and authorized preparation of an ordinance to implement the execution of the project. The public hearings before the Council of the City of Philadelphia held on December 8, 1971, and deliberations thereon resulted in the passage of Council Bill No. 2666 which was approved on December 31, 1971, by the Mayor and authorization was then given to the Redevelopment Authority "to proceed with minor changes in substantial conformity with the said Redevelopment Proposal."*fn1 That
[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 277]
ordinance further empowered the Redevelopment Authority to execute a redevelopment contract with the joint venturers who were later to organize as a corporation, Franklin Town, and "to take such action in substantial conformity to the redevelopment contract as may be necessary to carry it out."*fn2
On December 15, 1972, a redevelopment contract was executed between Franklin Town Corporation and the Redevelopment Authority providing for acquisitions of approximately 10 acres of property by the Authority and to stage transfers thereof to Franklin Town Corporation within 84 months.
The preliminary objections filed and dismissed below consisted of the following:
[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 2781]
) It was advanced that no blight existed.
2) The Redevelopment Authority acted in an arbitrary and ...