Specially Planned Districts

What are Specially Planned Districts?

Specially Planned Districts are intended to provide a flexible framework for alternative forms of development on very large sites of City-wide importance.  These create efficient, functional and attractive urban areas that incorporate high quality urban design, a variety of public amenities, and protection of natural resources.    


What is a Preliminary Land Development Plan?

A Preliminary Land Development Plan is a master plan for specially planned districts and include details for infrastructure, development patterns, landscape design and architectural details, and is accompanied by zoning text that is specific to the Specially Planned District.    


What are the minimum thresholds for the establishment of a Specially Planned District?

The following thresholds are used for the establishment of a Specially Planned District: 

  • Development site must comprise a contiguous area of land no less than 15 acres.
  • 100 percent of the land in an Specially Planned District shall be controlled by the applicant from the time of application through ownership or sales options.
  • Specially Planned Districts shall be in a location that is suitable for the proposed development, evidenced by compliance with plans and policy documents adopted by the Planning Commission and by demonstrating compatibility with development in adjacent areas.


How are Specially Planned Districts created?

After a public hearing, Planning Commission votes on the Preliminary Land Development Plan and makes a recommendation to City Council on the Zoning Code text. After a public hearing at City Council, the Council may vote on the legislation. Finally, the Mayor may approve the Zoning Code text.   


How are individual building projects approved in a Specially Planned District?

  • Once a Preliminary Land Development Plan and subsequent zoning changes have been approved, building plans are reviewed in the form of Final Land Development Plans.
  • Final Land Development Plans are subject to the City's design review process and final approval by Planning Commission.
  • An Final Land Development Plan is approved based on its compliance with the previously approved Preliminary Land Development Plan, unless an updated Preliminary Land Development Plan is submitted and approved with the Final Land Development Plan application.


Pittsburgh's Specially Planned Districts include: