Office Sector News
GSA Signs New Lease
The regional offices of the U.S. General Service Administration (GSA) Region 3, currently housed in the Strawbridge Building at Eighth and Market Streets, will move into 135,715 square feet at Independence Mall West (The Dow Building) in late 2014. The lease, signed on January 14, is for 15 years.
New Apartments on North Broad
Developer Bart Blatstein on January 8 began marketing and leasing efforts for his $70 million renovation of the 20-story former State Office Building at Broad and Spring Garden Streets, which has been repositioned in phase one with 204 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with rents between $1,500 and $3,000 a month, a fitness facility and a 24-hour concierge. For more information, please go to towerplaceliving.com. This is one of several major apartment buildings being developed in Center City; for more details on others see centercityphila.org/docs/CCR12_housing.pdf [PDF].
Sweeping Changes Proposed for State Transportation Funds
Three bills were introduced in January in the state House of Representatives seeking to establish a comprehensive plan for funding the maintenance and improvement of the Commonwealth's roads, bridges and transit systems, according to a press release from House Democrats.
HB12, HB13 and HB14 would authorize a Public Transportation Trust Fund and would change the way Pennsylvania Turnpike revenues are distributed, raise fees for drivers' licenses and car registration, and establish an Intermodal Transportation Fund, which would provide financial assistance through the department's programs relating to aviation, rail freight, passenger rail, ports and waterways.
Governor Corbett is expected to release his own proposals shortly.
To read the House Democrats press release, please go to wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2013/2013010956.HTM.
For HB12, introduced by state Representative Dan B. Frankel (D., Allegheny County) on January 14, please go to tinyurl.com/bdlfl8q.
For HB13, introduced by state Representative Michael K. Hanna (D., Centre County on January 10, please go to tinyurl.com/9wb3l25.
For HB14, also introduced by Hanna on January 10, please go to tinyurl.com/cxsful9.
Amtrak /California High-Speed Rail Partnership
Amtrak had plans to order 40 new Acela coaches to augment their existing fleet. However, on Thursday Amtrak announced that they have decided to move in a different direction. They are no longer buying Acela coaches and instead are partnering with California to investigate the joint procurement of new, modern high-speed trainsets. The trainsets would be capable of operating at 220+ miles per hour once the infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor has been upgraded to allow it. The trainsets would initially augment the existing Acela fleet and eventually replace it. Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority hope to use this joint procurement to help develop a high-speed rail equipment manufacturing base in the U.S. that could grow to export to other countries. To read Amtrak's press release, please go to bit.ly/VXnll4 [PDF].
US Airways Announces Nonstops to Salt Lake City
US Airways announced on January 9 that it will begin nonstop, daily year-round service from Philadelphia to Salt Lake City, beginning June 8.
Service to Salt Lake City will be offered on a dual-class, 150-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. Daily flights from Salt Lake City will depart at 8:25 a.m. and arrive in Philadelphia at 2:44 p.m.
Flights from Philadelphia will leave at 6:10 p.m. and arrive in Salt Lake City at 9:04 p.m.
To read the press release, please go to tinyurl.com/anox29f.
SugarHouse Revenues Rise in December
Revenue at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware Riverfront was substantially higher in December over November, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
In December, the casino took in $23,213,090, compared to November's take of $21,688,482. The Commonwealth's share of taxes was $6,193,150 in December, compared to $5,845,809 in November. The City of Philadelphia received $774,041 in taxes in December, compared to $728,605 in November.
To see all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/Smpoyp.
Public presentations on the other casino proposed for Philadelphia will be made at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on February 12th.
Two New Merchants at Reading Terminal Market
Two new food businesses opened on January 16 at the Reading Terminal Market.
Keven Parker's Soul Food Café is serving traditional soul food specialties on Avenue A at 5th Avenue. Keven Parker and his family also operate the popular Ms. Tootsie's Soul Food Cafe at 1312 South Street.
The Valley Shepherd Creamery, a New Jersey-based dairy farm, is offering more than 30 kinds of its own homemade cheeses plus panini sandwiches, and is now open at Avenue D at 3rd Avenue. Next up is the production of cheese onsite in a new cheese production room behind glass.
Arts and Culture News
PIFA's Second Festival in April
The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) will hold a press preview and launch ticket sales on Wednesday, January 23, at the Merriam Theater, 250 South Broad Street, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
PIFA's second city-wide arts festival, produced by the Kimmel Center, will focus on a Time Machine theme and include more than 50 events throughout the city from March 28 to April 27, culminating with the PIFA Street Fair on Saturday, April 27, on Broad Street from Chestnut to Lombard Streets.
For more information about events held at various locations throughout the city, many of which are free, please to go to pifa.org.
Parks and Open Space News
Wine and Cheese Weekly Event Returns
Pairings on the Parkway, the wine-and-cheese BYOB Thursday event at Sister Cities Park, 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is back for some cozy gatherings during the winter months. Every Thursday through March 21, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Milk & Honey Café will be offering specially prepared cheese platters for two for purchase, and you can add to that your own favorite bottle of wine.
In addition, each week there will be a guided tasting of cheese, beer or wine in an intimate setting inside Milk & Honey Café.
For more information, please go to sistercitiespark.org.
Governor Moves to Privatize Lottery
Governor Corbett on January 17 announced that he had contracted with Camelot Global Services PA LLC to take over management of the Pennsylvania lottery. In the announcement, Corbett said the new management would bring $3 billion - $4.5 billion in new revenue to the state and would retain current employees of the lottery system.
The state attorney general has 30 days to review the contract, and state House Democrats have vowed to stop the privatization.
To read the governor's press release, please go to bit.ly/JnbeF4.
City Tax Revenue Collections Up
City of Philadelphia General Fund tax collections were $165.3 million in December, up 17.1% or $24.1 million, over December 2011, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA).
Wage and earnings tax collections totaled $129.7 million in December, an increase of $13.6 million (11.7%) from December 2011.
Sales tax collections through December were $127.7 million, an increase of 3.9% compared to the same period last year.
Real estate transfer tax collections were $14.0 million in December, an increase of 60.4% or $5.3 million, and the third consecutive month of increased collections compared to the previous year, a clear sign of a recovering real estate market.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/UEsXP6 [PDF].
Philadelphia Ranks Low in Pension Funding
The Pew Charitable Trusts' Center on the States has released a new study that looks at 61 cities across America and how their pensions and retiree healthcare provisions have emerged from the Great Recession. Cities included were the most populous in each state, plus others with populations over 500,000.
The report showed that Philadelphia funded 69% of its liabilities in 2007, 70% in 2008, and 62% in 2009, which put the city among the nine lowest performers, along with Charleston, West Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; Fargo, North Dakota; Jackson, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Omaha, Nebraska; and Portland, Oregon.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (113%), Washington, D.C. (104%), and the state of New York (101%), all had surpluses.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/WjgOhG.
Support for Small Businesses
On January 9, Mayor Nutter announced a partnership between the City of Philadelphia and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative to help create jobs and economic growth by providing small businesses in the Philadelphia region with practical business education, business support services and access to capital. Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation are committing $20 million to the program in Philadelphia.
The Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) will deliver the business education portion of the program, and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) will originate loans to small businesses. The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League of Philadelphia will help recruit small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The program will begin in May 2013. Applications for the education component of the program are being accepted, effective immediately, and can be downloaded at ccp.edu/10KSB.
To read the mayor's press release, please go to tinyurl.com/asrtwlw.
Support for Regional Manufacturing
Mayor Nutter on January 15 signed an Executive Order establishing the Manufacturing Task Force, which will evaluate the state of manufacturing in Philadelphia and recommend specific measures that will help support the growth of manufacturing in the region. It will reside in the Department of Commerce. Approximately 25 Task Force members will be named in the coming weeks. They will be chosen in consultation with members of City Council and leaders from the manufacturing sector.
Manufacturing generates more than $1.3 billion in total wages and supports 23,100 direct manufacturing jobs in Philadelphia, the mayor's press release noted. Nationally, the sector is experiencing a resurgence.
To read the mayor's press release, please go to tinyurl.com/altz75p.
AVI Is Topic at SOSNA Meeting
On Wednesday, January 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) General Membership meeting at Shiloh Baptist Church, 2040 Christian Street, will focus on the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), which will change the way property tax bills are calculated.
A panel discussion will be moderated by SOSNA board members. Panelists will be Richie McKeithen, Chief Assessment Officer, Office of Property Assessments; Marisa Waxman, Office of Property Assessments; Emily Dowdall and Susan Warner, authors of "The Actual Value Initiative: Overhauling Property Taxes In Philadelphia" for the Philadelphia Research Institute, at the PEW Charitable Trusts; and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
Questions for the panel can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 21. Please use the subject line AVI.
A similar forum will occur at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 6, at The Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square. A panel of representatives from the City's Office of Property Assessment and Board of Revision of Taxes will discuss the reassessment of 590,000 properties in the City and procedures for appeal.
New assessments on properties were delivered to owners early this year and are the first step in Mayor Nutter's Actual Value Initiative (AVI), which will overhaul Philadelphia's property-tax system in 2014. With assessments set at 100% of market value, the millage rate will be adjusted downward.
Public Hearing at Constitution Center
Philadelphia's Legislative Delegation will hold a public hearing on a proposed package of bills, which would offer property tax relief in light of the mayor's Actual Value Initiative package, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., on Monday, January 28, at the National Constitution Center's Kirby Auditorium, 525 Arch Street.
The property tax relief package comprises four pieces: legislation providing Philadelphia with additional authority to collect delinquent property taxes; a constitutional amendment authorizing two classes of properties (residential and commercial) to be taxed at different rates in Philadelphia; a bill to give Philadelphia the ability to provide eligible Philadelphia homeowners with the option to make property tax payments in periodic installments; and a bill to provide relief for long-term owner-occupants.
Action Plan for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
On Monday, February 4, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Mayor Nutter, Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources, PennPraxis, and the Penn Project on Civic Engagement will present "More Park, Less Way: An Action Plan to Increase Urban Vibrancy on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway," at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The presentation will focus on ideas for the future of the Parkway.
Regional Economic Outlook
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's (GPCC) 15th annual Economic Outlook Conference will be held Tuesday, February 12, in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt at the Bellevue, 200 South Broad Street. Registration is between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., with the program beginning at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 9:30 a.m.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia will release its economic survey results, culled from responses by the GPCC membership, and the keynote speaker will be Sue Herera, co-anchor, CNBC's "Power Lunch."
Tickets range from $60 per person for members to $1,200 for a non-member table of 10. Registration ends Monday, February 11. To register, please go to greaterphilachamber.com/register/3208/economic-outlook.
2013 Ed Bacon Awards
The 2013 Ed Bacon Awards Ceremony & Reception will be held on Thursday, February 21, at the Philadelphia Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street. The VIP reception will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with the ceremony and presentation following, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will receive the seventh annual Edmund N. Bacon Prize, bestowed annually on an accomplished figure who has achieved outstanding results in urban planning, development, and design. In addition, the 2013 Ed Bacon Student Design Competition winners will be announced.
Tickets range from $15 to $150. To register, please go to tinyurl.com/bcyoxap.
'Brilliant' Flower Show Coming in March
The Philadelphia Flower Show, presented by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), will take place this year from Saturday, March 2 through
Sunday, March 10, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch Streets. This year's theme pays tribute to the influences of British culture and is titled "Brilliant!"
Saturday, March 2, 11:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 3, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Monday, March 4 through Friday, March 8, 10:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 9, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 10, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
General Admission tickets range from $15 to $27. For the first time, PHS will offer a Pre-Show Sneak Peek, an exclusive view of the creation of the Philadelphia Flower Show, from Monday, February 25 - Thursday, February 28, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $48.
To purchase tickets for General Admission, Sneak Peek or special packages, please go to tinyurl.com/b9zsqnw.
In addition, there will be a black-tie Preview Party on Friday, March 1, with a reception for benefactors and patrons at 6:00 p.m. and a preview opening at 7:00 p.m. (Prices range between $400 and $10,000.)
At 10:00 p.m., the PHS Young Friends After Party (ages 21-40) begins. (Tickets are $200.)
For tickets to these events, please go to pennhort.net/sslpage.aspx?pid=300.
Culture and Lecture Series
The Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides (APT) will begin its culture and history lecture series, "A Guide's View of Philadelphia," from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., on each Wednesday from January 30 to March 20, at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street.
The series is open to the public as well as aspiring tour guides.
Speakers in the series will be Ken Hinde, director of tours at The Foundation for Architecture; Daniel Richter, professor of history at University of Pennsylvania; Randall M. Miller, professor of history at St. Joseph's University; Charlene Mires, professor of history at Rutgers University; Ed Grusheski, consultant with the Philadelphia Water Department; Jeffrey Cohen, senior lecturer at Bryn Mawr College; Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District; Meryl Levitz, President and CEO of Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation; and Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Planning, City of Philadelphia.
Cost is $25 per lecture, or $190 for the series. Special group rates are available. For more information, or to register, please go to phillyguides.org/APTstore.aspx.