Office Sector News
Vanguard Chooses Site for Satellite Office in Center City
The Vanguard Group has leased 16,000 square feet on two floors at 2300 Chestnut Street for a satellite office that will serve as an innovation center with 20 employees, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on February 9. The location was selected for its proximity to businesses in the urban core as well as University City and 30th Street Station.
The center is expected to open this spring and eventually expand to 100 employees. The company will maintain its headquarters in Malvern. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2k7FIYi.
Residential Market News
CCD/CPDC ‘2017 Housing Report: Building on Optimism’
In 2016, a record number of new residential units were brought to market for a growing downtown population, with 2,506 new units delivered in Greater Center City, a 15.5% increase over the previous high of 2,168; 73% (1,833 units) were rental apartments; 27% (673 units were for-sale housing).
Currently, there are 4,167 rental and 1,212 for-sale units under construction in Greater Center City, the majority of which are scheduled for completion in 2017.
Can this volume of new housing be absorbed?
This timely new 20-page report examines this question with detailed maps and graphics on where the housing is being built and how the supply corresponds to household growth downtown. The report was researched and produced by the Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corporation and can be downloaded here: centercityphila.org/research-reports/2017-housing-report-building-on-optimism.
In related news, Kevin Gillen, senior research fellow at Drexel University's Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, reports that during the fourth quarter of 2016, the citywide median house price declined from $149,900 to $140,000, a 0.8% decline that is statistically indistinguishable from 0%. It was, however, the first decline in the citywide house price index since the first quarter of 2014. By contrast, CCD/CPDC’s housing report shows housing prices rising by 6% in Greater Center City over the last year, while days on market declined by 8%.
To read the Gillen report, please go to bit.ly/1qntloS.
Also, Econsult Solutions notes in its blog update of February 10, that at the end of 2016, the city housing market was still going strong. City housing prices surged past the 2007 pre-recession peak and, by December, they reached values nearly twice as high as the 2001 baseline. Unlike previous periods during the recovery, in 2016, rising values were experienced by neighborhoods of all types, all across the city. To read the update, please go to bit.ly/2l8XIie.
Visit Philadelphia Adds Leadership
Visit Philadelphia on February 15 announced the addition of two new staffers, Kara Callahan as vice president of advertising and strategic alliances, and Laura Burkhardt as vice president of visitor appeal, a new position in the organization. In addition, Jim Werner was promoted to vice president of hotel relations and tourism development.
The announcement noted that by July 2018, Center City is projected to add 1,795 new hotel rooms—a 16.1% increase in supply over the end of last year.
To read the press release, please go to vstphl.ly/2lQd1w7.
Renovations at Le Meridien
HEI Hospitality LLC and Walton Street Capital of Chicago, owners and operators of the Le Meridien hotel at 1421 Arch Street, will begin a $1 million renovation today, with an emphasis on its entryway and ground-floor public areas, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on February 17.
A new sculpture is to be added to the hotel's entrance and the hotel's restaurant will be made into a private dining room. The improvements are expected to be completed by the end of March.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2m55c59.
Eds and Meds News
School District's First Payment from Ride-Hailing Tax
The School District of Philadelphia has received $357,593 in tax revenue from its two-thirds share of the tax placed on rides using Uber and Lyft from July to September 2016, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on February 16. During this period of temporary authorization, the tax was 1.0%, but when the Pennsylvania General Assembly in November permanently authorized the businesses, the tax was set at 1.4%. The District anticipates an additional $411,381from November and December taxes and annual revenue of $2 million to $2.5 million. The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) receives one third of the tax.
In their first two months of legal operation in Philadelphia, Uber and Lyft together brought in more than $44 million in gross revenues.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2kxOPS9.
Center City Shopping Survey
The Center City District, which produces Restaurant Week and Sips, would like to learn more about your shopping habits to help make Center City’s shopping experience the best and most exciting it can be. Please take our quick survey and enter a chance to win $500 in gift certificates from some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia: surveymonkey.com/r/shop-philly.
Brew Pub to Open in East Market
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant plans to open its first Center City location in the East Market mixed-use development, joining Mom's Organic Market and Design Within Reach, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on February 6.
The company, based in Wilmington, will open the 8,450-square-foot brew pub at 1150 Market Street, on the ground floor of East Market’s western residential tower, in spring 2018.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2jV6s9l.
Arts and Culture News
Cecelia Fitzgibbon to Lead Parkway Council
Cecelia Fitzgibbon, president of Moore College of Art & Design, has been named president of the Parkway Council Board of Directors, succeeding Siobhan Reardon, the University City Review reported on February 8.
The Parkway Council enhances, promotes and advocates for the Parkway Museums District along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2kPgs8C.
Biden Named Chairman of Constitution Center
Former Vice President Joe Biden has been named chairman of the National Constitution Center's board of trustees, succeeding former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on February 15.
Biden also will lead the University of Pennsylvania’s diplomacy center and teach classes there.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2kTnCYU.
Parks and Open Space News
Final Days of Winter Activities at Dilworth Park
This is the last week to enjoy ice skating, food and drinks at the Rothman Institute Ice Rink and Rothman Institute Cabin, and to visit the America’s Garden Capital Maze, all of which will close for the season on Sunday, February 26, to prepare for upcoming spring activities at the park.
Two programs on Seed Starting, presented by Greater Philadelphia Gardens, one tomorrow, February 21, Noon – 1 p.m. (Adults); the other on Saturday, February 25, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Family), will close out the popular series made possible through generous funding from the William Penn Foundation and held in the Rothman Institute Cabin.
The Winter Season at Dilworth Park has been presented by Rothman Institute, William Penn Foundation and through the generous support of Subaru, Capital One, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Temple University and 6abc.
Also, on February 15, Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture, which has made its home in Dilworth Park for the past year during the renovation of John F. Kennedy Plaza (LOVE Park), was moved off site. The sculpture will be sent to Amaral Custom Fabricators in East Providence, Rhode Island, for a $50,000 restoration and will return to its original home later this year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2lvFtXf.
Indiana's AMOR sculpture, however, now has a permanent home at Sister Cities Park at 18th and the Parkway.
For up-to-date schedule and information on all activities at Dilworth Park, please visit dilworthpark.org, and for Sister Cities Park, please visit sistercitiespark.org.
SEPTA Key Now Available
SEPTA Key, the card designed to replace all of SEPTA’s fare options, including tokens, was made available to the public as of February 13 at all subway stations and major bus loops, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Riders initially pay for a monthly or weekly pass to get the card and then maintain a “travel wallet” on it, allowing them to pay per ride, reload the card online or through a smart phone, and register the card to protect its balance if it is lost. For more information about SEPTA Key, please go to septa.org/key.
To read The Philadelphia Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/2krx56Z.
In related news, SEPTA's City, Suburban and Victory Transit divisions will see minor adjustments to their schedules beginning Sunday, February 26, with Routes 2, 44, 310 and 311 most affected.
New transit schedules are available at SEPTA customer locations, or online at bit.ly/VCxRRh. Riders also can access real-time service information by using the official SEPTA App, available as a free download for both Apple and Android devices, and by following the @SEPTA Twitter feed.
Night Closures of I-676 for Bridge Construction
I-676 will be closed and detoured in both directions between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges today, February 20, through Thursday, February 23, from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning for overhead bridge construction, PennDOT announced on Thursday.
The overnight operation is part of the four-year, $64.8 million project to replace seven structurally deficient bridges over I-676 between 22nd Street and 18th Street and to make landscaping and streetscape improvements above the expressway. Construction began in April 2015 and will finish in November 2018, a year ahead of schedule. The work schedule is weather dependent.
For more information on the I-676 project, please go to bridgesover676.com. For detours and other information, please go to 511PA.com.
DRPA Receives Federal Grant for Bridge Bike Ramp
The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) has received a $3.78 million federal grant from a new program within the Federal Highway Administration, plus a $400,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation to help pay for a proposed bicycle and handicap ramp onto the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from Camden, the Camden Courier-Post reported on February 15.
Bicyclists can ride onto the Philadelphia side of the bridge but on the Camden side at Fifth Street, currently they must carry their bikes down a set of steps 25 feet high; there is no handicapped accessibility from that side.
The DRPA Citizens Advisory Committee and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia have been advocating for the ramp, which is being redesigned after a previous version was deemed too expensive.
To read the article, please go to on.cpsj.com/2lWoJ8x.
Revenue Up at SugarHouse Casino
Revenue at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River increased in January, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, with the casino taking in $24,892,082, compared to December's $24,301,524.
The Commonwealth’s share of taxes was $6,292,224, compared to December's $6,251,128. The City of Philadelphia collected $775,708, compared to $768,751 in December.
To view all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/2bkEjIO.
Regional Manufacturing Improves
Responses to the February Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest broader growth for the region’s manufacturing sector, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia announced in a report released on February 16, with new orders up for 43.9% of the responding companies, down for 5.9%, and unchanged for 44.1%.
The number of full-time employees increased for 15.3% of the firms, decreased for
4.2%, and remained the same for 74.0%.
Looking ahead six months, 58.1% expected business conditions to improve, 4.6% foresaw a downturn, and 26.0% anticipated no change.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2m3QqeP.
'Moving Forward' with More Jobs
Larry Platt, Co-Founder/Co-Executive of The Philadelphia Citizen, engages Paul R. Levy in a discussion about job growth and the findings of the CCD/CPDC report, Philadelphia: An Incomplete Revival, released in January.
To read the article, "Moving Forward," published on February 15, please go to bit.ly/2lTSASx. To read the report, please go to centercityphila.org/research-reports/philadelphia-an-incomplete-revival.
Governor Proposes $32.3 Billion Budget
Governor Tom Wolf on February 7 unveiled a $32.3 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2017-2018 (FY18) that attempts to reduce an anticipated $2.8 billion shortfall by consolidating departments, charging municipalities for state police services, and adding a 6.5% tax on natural gas drilling, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Additionally, the budget anticipates revenue increases from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), expanded gambling, and taxes derived from raising the minimum wage to $12/hour (helping to save on supportive services).
The governor proposed merging the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole into a new Department of Criminal Justice, and consolidating the Departments of Health, Aging, Human Services and Drug and Alcohol Programs into a single department.
Wolf's budget would provide increases of $100 million for basic education, $25 million for special education, $75 million for early childhood education, and $8.9 million for 14 state universities.
The state will end its current fiscal year with a deficit and must raise that money as well.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2lpo4eJ.
City Wins Grant to Improve Collaboration
Five U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, on February 8 were named winners of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant and will be awarded one year of free consulting and network communications to enhance collaboration and problem solving among city service agencies, Philly Voice reported.
The other winners were Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, and Orlando. More than 130 cities applied.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2loMj0F. To read the announcement from the Smart Cities Council, please go to bit.ly/2k4j3r1.
PICA: General Fund Tax Collections Increase
City of Philadelphia General Fund tax collections through December totaled $1.292 billion, an increase of 3.7% from the same period in FY2016, but 1.0% below the estimated growth rate of 4.7%, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority’s (PICA) report for December. The current estimate for FY2017 General Fund tax revenue is $3.089 billion.
Wage and earnings tax revenues increased 4.5%, compared to projected growth of 3.5%; sales tax revenue increased 15.6%, compared to a projected 8.7% growth; BIRT revenue declined 15.6%, compared to the expected decline of 2%; and real estate transfer tax collections increased by 0.4%, compared to the projected increase of 4.7%.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2kpH3oE [PDF].
Six StartupPHL Grantees Announced
Mayor Jim Kenney and the Department of Commerce on Friday announced the fifth round of StartupPHL Call for Ideas grantees. The program funds innovative proposals that bolster Philadelphia’s expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The new round of grants provides funding to six organizations:
Coded by Kids ($16,500) to support the development of a data science curriculum for students at two recreation centers in Philadelphia;
Destined to Achieve Successful Heights, Inc. (DASH) ($22,975) to partner with PSTV (the Education channel for the School District of Philadelphia) to help students produce, write and record their own original music;
Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation ($17,200) to expand support to four neighborhood library locations serving low-income communities;
The Hacktory ($24,000) to host a summer technical hardware boot camp for professionals;
SecondMuse ($25,000) to research Philadelphia’s existing hardware startup and manufacturing communities; and
Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians ($25,000) to cultivate entrepreneurial leadership among first generation immigrant youth and provide technology assistance to immigrant-owned small businesses.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2kHMHmj.
Vision Zero Philadelphia 2017
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Vision Zero 2017 Conference will take place on Wednesday, March 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in Alumni Hall at Thomas Jefferson University, 1020 Locust Street.
The conference will bring together leading experts, elected officials and members of the public to share opportunities and best practices for creating local roadways that respect all human dignity and eliminate traffic deaths.
Tickets are $60.
For complete information and to see the list of speakers, please go to bit.ly/2k7XF9e.