As we enter our eighth year of advocating for development in Philadelphia and the region, we look back on a remarkable recovery in development and the rejuvenation of urban life in the City. And in that span of years the Workshop has made its mark as the voice of the development community.
We began the Workshop in the midst of the Great Recession when, as Sam Zell famously said, "the economy went into rain delay." Soon the City began the work of "modernizing" the zoning code, to bring clarity and to elevate urban design in guiding principles and regulatory specific. Development faced the perennial challenge in City Council to do away with – or sharply curtail – the ten-year tax abatement.
Developers and community groups operated in separate, but parallel universes. Labor and developers rarely move together toward their mutual interest in promoting the built environment and municipal officials and representatives of development came together largely on ad hoc projects.
Well, we have built bridges with community groups, the building trades and government officials, all in the greater goal of building the City and the region. In all of these works, front and center, was Craig Schelter, who was at once the face of the Workshop and the voice within the voice of the development community. We were fortunate to have Craig with us at inception, and for these past years.
His credentials are impeccable. A graduate of Williams College and Harvard's Master’s Program in Architecture. He has served as the leader of PIDC and Executive Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. He has consulted in the private sector and in the public sector. His projects range from Market Street East to the Wissahickon Watershed, from Penn's Landing to University City. He is a pillar of Urban Land Institute and the Design Advocacy Group.
He is an advocate for both development and design. He is all about City and community. He is rooted in common sense and informed by experiences and a world view of how the built environment can serve people. As our voice in Council, Craig didn't always tell the members what they want to hear, but what he thought they needed to hear. Throughout the public processes, Craig was credible, extremely well informed and well respected. Craig has done credit to the Workshop and, frankly, is irreplaceable.
Craig will be leaving the Workshop by year-end. We shall look for someone who can address issues important to us, the City and the region. But, again, there is no replacement for Craig.
Founder & Chairman