Mixed-Use Tower Proposed at 19th and Chestnut
Pearl Properties has unveiled plans to construct a 26-story residential tower with 110 apartment units at 19th and Chestnut Streets, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 16.
Retail would occupy the first two floors of the 295-foot-tall building, the third floor would be allocated for residential amenities, and the remaining floors would have apartments.
The developer will seek a zoning variance or legislation to have the site of the development rezoned, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1hajS8N.
Update on Brickstone’s Chestnut Street Project
Demolition crews will begin work in the next few weeks on the south side of the 1100 block of South Street as they prepare the block for Brickstone’s $60 million to $70 million mixed-use redevelopment, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday.
A large section of sidewalk has been closed as preliminary work begins at 1116 to 1128 Chestnut for a complex of loft-style apartments above three-story retail spaces.
Brickstone's plan is for a six-story redevelopment catering to young, affluent urbanites, the article noted, with 96 apartments and 80,000 square feet of retail through new construction as well as restoration of one large, historical building. The project is expected to be completed by summer 2015.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1fy5OGA.
Office Sector News
Graham Building Has New Owner
The Graham Building at 30 South 15th Street, adjacent to Dilworth Plaza, was sold to C-III Asset Management, the special servicer that was overseeing a defaulted loan on the building, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 17.
The sale price of the 240,634-square-foot building was not reported, however, an appraisal was completed last June that set the value of the property at $20.2 million, while the outstanding loan on the building was for $28.3 million, the article noted.
The building was constructed in 1985 and its anchor tenant is the Graham Company, a Philadelphia insurance brokerage.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1hYylog.
Manufacturing and Nonmanufacturing Activity Improves
Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region increased moderately in April, according to firms responding to the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia’s Business Outlook Survey, with 37.4% of respondents saying the number of new orders increased, 40% responding they stayed the same, and 22.6% reporting declines;
19.8% reported increases in employment and 12.9% reported decreases. Looking ahead six months, 43.1% of the companies said they expected manufacturing activity to increase, while only 16.5% expected it to decrease.
In a new question, 61.1% of the respondents said that the availability of skilled labor was most important or very important in deciding whether the firm would stay in the three-state region. Another 29.2% said that issue was somewhat relevant.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1nuD0Uk [PDF].
In the Federal Reserve Bank’s survey of nonmanufacturing businesses, more than half, 51.1%, of the companies said business activity had increased, while only 4.3% of responding firms reported decreased business; new orders were up for 46.8% and down for 12.8%. Nearly one-third (31.9%) of the responding firms reported having more full-time employees, and only 8.5% reported having fewer employees.
Projecting ahead six months, 85.1% saw business conditions improving, while only 2.1% expected a downturn.
Eds and Meds News
Drexel’s Medical School Leads in Applications
Drexel University College of Medicine received 13,620 applications for admission in 2013, the most for any medical school in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report.
Temple University School of Medicine placed fourth with 10,980 applicants, and Jefferson Medical College ranked sixth with 10,118.
The number of students who applied to and enrolled in medical schools hit a record high in 2013, with the number of applicants increasing 6.1% to 48,014, the article noted.
To read the U.S. News and World Report article, please go to bit.ly/1e81baH.
School District Presents Budget
Philadelphia School District officials introduced their 2014-15 budget Friday, with projected operating revenues of $2.5 billion and expenditures of $2.8 billion, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
To maintain the current level of funding, which does not allow for counselors or nurses in every school or adequate supplies, the district needs a total of $216.2 million in new money, and if that cannot be raised, class sizes will increase to 37, 40 in middle grades, and 41 in high schools. There will be 1,000 staff layoffs, and cuts including but not limited to reductions in special education, nurses, school police, alternative education, transportation, facilities and administrative supports, the article noted. The School District will make its budgetary request to City Council on Monday, May 5.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1kdjbi9.
PREIT to Bring Popular Retailer to The Gallery
The Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) announced on April 23 that The Gallery had a new lease with Century 21 Department Stores, which would serve as an anchor for the Market Street mall's planned redevelopment, locating in 100,000 square feet (SF) of the former Strawbridge's building at 801 Market Street, with 16,000 SF on the first floor and the balance on the second floor.
The store will open in October and have nighttime hours ending no earlier than 9:00 p.m., The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The Gallery location will be Century 21's first outside metropolitan New York City, where it has eight stores.
To read the PREIT press release, please go to bit.ly/1lIXs6V.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1mMhgpH.
SugarHouse Revenue Increases Again in March
Revenue at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River increased substantially in March for the second month in a row, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
In March, the casino took in $25,736,164, compared to $22,088,590 in February. The Commonwealth's share of taxes was $6,860,094 in March, compared to $5,971,188 in the previous month. The City received $852,451, compared to $750,157 in February.
To see all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/16izgf9.
Residential Market News
Center City House Prices Increase
House prices rose by 6.8% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2014 in Center City/Fairmount, a geographical definition used by Kevin C. Gillen of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania in his Fels Consulting: Housing Report, released on April 14.
Citywide, the average house value fell by 4%, while University City homes increased in value by 2.7%. South Philadelphia, led by neighborhoods Point Breeze and East Passyunk, saw house price increases averaging 2.5%.
Throughout the city’s other sections, house prices fell, most drastically in West Philadelphia, with a -17.5% decrease, with Northwest Philadelphia showing the least decline, at -2.2%.
There were 3,148 arms-length transactions in Q1, up from 2,849 a year ago, and up from 2,503 in the post-recession low three years ago.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1l8j342.
To read CPDC’s overview of the Center City market, covering a broader geography, from Girard Avenue to Tasker Street, see the Residential chapter of the just released State of Center City report: centercityphila.org/docs/SOCC2014_downtown.pdf [PDF].
SEPTA to Offer All-Night Subway Service This Summer
SEPTA will restore all-night service on Fridays and Saturdays on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines, from mid-June until Labor Day, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 15.
Since 1991, there has been no subway service between midnight and 5:00 a.m., and Nite Owl buses substituted on those routes. Increasing nightlife and residential activity in Center City prompted SEPTA officials to bring back the subway service, the article noted.
If ridership proves popular and customer reaction is positive, SEPTA may continue the late-night service after Labor Day.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1h6POf8.
To read an editorial from The Philadelphia Inquirer endorsing the restored weekend SEPTA service, please go to bit.ly/1iZUm7l.
In other SEPTA news, SEPTA's board of directors on April 24 approved an advertising contract that will bring in revenue of at least $150 million over seven years, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
SEPTA retained its current advertising company, Titan Outdoor L.L.C., of New York, to manage ads on SEPTA vehicles and stations.
SEPTA will receive 62.5% of ad revenues, while Titan will collect 37.5%. SEPTA's minimum guaranteed revenue will be $75.8 million for the first five years, with $35.4 million and $38.7 million in two additional option years.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1fpq9Di.
PATCO Board Votes for Improvements
The PATCO board on April 16 approved a $7.5 million package for improvements at stations and parking lots, and also for full-time repair crews for escalators and elevators, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The funding includes an allocation for new message boards, with real-time train information, but they won't be operational for at least six months, the article noted.
The board agreed to hire SEPTA crews for the repair and maintenance at PATCO stations, and will pay $3.9 million over five years.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/Qq4uzf.
Public Invited to Share Input on Transportation Priorities
PennDOT has created an online survey so that the public can share their ideas on transportation priorities and investments for the state’s Long Range Transportation Plan and first-ever Comprehensive Freight Movement Plan.
The plans will provide a strategic vision for investing in transportation assets to meet current and future demands. The plan’s goals, objectives, and recommendations will help guide the state’s future 12-Year Programs and regional long-range transportation plans.
The survey is available until May 30, and asks the public to identify their top transportation priorities among all assets, from freight connections to bike and pedestrian facilities.
Following a yet-to-be-established public-comment period, the freight and long-range plans will be finalized in fall 2014.
To take the survey, please go to PAOnTrack.com.
Parks and Open Space News
Pop-up Park Coming to the Delaware River Waterfront
On June 27, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) will open the pop-up park Spruce Street Harbor Park at the Penn’s Landing Marina between Spruce and Dock Streets on the Delaware River, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 18.
The pop-up park, designed by Groundswell Design Group, Interface Studio, and Digsau, has a floating restaurant, giant hammocks cantilevered over the water, mini art galleries, food vendors, and a water garden, among other amusements. The park will cost about $700,000, the article noted, and will remain open through Labor Day.
DRWC invested in the pop-up park as a way of showcasing the waterfront and attracting investors for development on the riverfront.
To read the article and see a rendering, please go to bit.ly/1qTRwXG.
Study: Park Across I-95 Would Spur Economic Growth
A four-acre park across I-95 that replaced the mostly paved surfaces of Penn's Landing with 11 acres of additional green and recreation space, restaurants, shops and residences would turn a $250-million public investment into $1.8 billion in economic growth, according to a feasibility study led by Hargreaves and Associates, PlanPhilly reported on Friday.
The plan, presented to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) board on Friday, also envisions 1,500 new residences, 500 new hotel rooms, and 75,000 square feet of new retail space, all of which would take about 35 years to build. Improvements in the public spaces, including the new park, could be finished in about five to seven years, the article noted.
Board members and staff at DRWC will begin efforts to raise the $250 million needed for the project.
To read the PlanPhilly article and view the rendering, please go to bit.ly/1lOYJcV.
To read the Penn’s Landing Feasibility Study, please go to bit.ly/1ldmFnf.
City Council Hearing for SRC Tax Abatement Bill
On Monday, May 5, at 10:00 a.m., City Council’s Committee of the Whole will hear testimony on tax and revenue measures, as they work toward preparing a final budget by June 30. This hearing will continue on Tuesday, May 6, also at 10:00 a.m. Among the bills included in this round of hearings is Bill #130724, introduced on October 10 by Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. The legislation authorizes the School Reform Commission (SRC) to have the power, beginning July 1, 2014, to sign off on any tax abatement of the school district portion of the property tax. Currently property tax revenues are split roughly 55% to the School District and 45% to the City. If approved, this will effectively cut the value of the 10-year abatement in half.
To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/GJSm7c.
Tax-Delinquent Properties Mapped by ‘AxisPhilly’
Approximately 96,000 properties in Philadelphia are encumbered with debt, estimated to total half a billion dollars, for failure to pay the city’s real estate tax, according to an analysis by AxisPhilly, a non-profit online news and information organization.
About 58,000 properties, or 60%, have been tax-delinquent five years or less; while another 25,000, or 26%, have been delinquent more than 10 years. In addition, 15% of tax-delinquent properties currently owe more in taxes than they are worth, according to the analysis. AxisPhilly also created an interactive map showing the location of the properties and other information, including how many liens a property has attached.
The analysis suggests that the Land Bank bill passed by City Council and signed by Mayor Nutter last year, could create a central clearing house for the acquisition of tax-delinquent properties and land and speed their redevelopment.
To read the article and view the interactive map, Landscape of Possibility, please go to bit.ly/1gBfaBB.
Benchmarking Successful in First Year
The City of Philadelphia on April 17 announced partial results of the first-year energy usage reporting by owners or operators of large commercial buildings. With more than 86% of the buildings covered under the ordinance reporting, Philadelphia’s portfolio of buildings achieved an average Energy Star score of 64, significantly exceeding the national average score of 50, according to a press release from Mayor Michael A. Nutter.
The Building Energy Benchmarking Law, passed by City Council and signed by Mayor Nutter in 2012, requires building owners and operators with more than 50,000 square feet (SF) of indoor floor space (or mixed-use buildings where at least 50,000 SF of indoor space is devoted to commercial use) to report annual energy and water consumption, using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online tool.
The deadline for reporting 2013 energy and water usage is June 30. Assistance about reporting building energy use through the Portfolio Manager program is available at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability at 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the following dates: Tuesday, May 20; Thursday, May 22; Friday, May 23; Tuesday, June 17; Thursday, June 19; and Friday, June 20.
Those wishing to attend one of these sessions should RSVP by email to email@example.com. For more information about Philadelphia Building Energy Benchmarking, please visit phila.gov/benchmarking. Questions may also be directed via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1jdgRpB.
Bike-Share Operator Selected by City
The Philadelphia-based Bicycle Transit Systems has been selected by the City of Philadelphia to create and operate the City’s bike-share program, Newsworks reported on April 24. The program will be in place for spring 2015.
B-cycle of Madison, Wisconsin, will be the supplier of the bikes and the bike stations. The company has created similar systems in 30 cities, including Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
The bike-sharing plan calls for a system of 150 to 200 stations and 1,500 to 2,000 bikes that will serve an area that stretches from the Delaware River into West Philadelphia, from the Navy Yard through Center City to beyond Temple University’s main campus in North Philadelphia.
To read the Newsworks article, please go to bit.ly/1nJ3HEW.
‘State of Center City, 2014’
On Tuesday, April 22, the Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation released State of Center City, 2014, a 77-page comprehensive overview of Philadelphia’s Center City. The report already has been downloaded more than 75,000 times. To read or download the report, or download individual chapters, please go to centercityphila.org/socc. To order printed copies, please call 215.440.5500 or email email@example.com. The first copy is free, additional copies are $10.
CPDC Young Professionals Exclusive Event
Young professionals at Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC)-member firms are invited to an exclusive event.
On Wednesday, May 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., at Cultureworks Greater Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Building, 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 320, the CPDC Young Professionals Series will present Craig Grossman, Senior Managing Director of Goldman Properties, on the revitalization of 13th Street and creation of the Midtown Village neighborhood. Hear about Goldman Properties' comprehensive approach that turned a derelict, crime-ridden area into a thriving retail district with the upper floors of buildings converted into new workplaces for start-ups and creative-class tenants.
Network with other young professionals. Enjoy complimentary appetizers along with a wine and beer open bar.
Please forward this invitation to young professionals in your office.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12:00 p.m., Thursday, May 1.
Space is limited, so please RSVP. To attend you must be an employee of a CPDC member firm or coworking member of CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia. (View list of CPDC member firms here: centercityphila.org/about/CPDCMembers.php).
New Vision for Avenue of the Arts
On Thursday, May 1, at 8:00 a.m., at the Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street, the Design Advocacy Group (DAG) will present the New Vision Project, an innovative proposal for both the North and South Avenue of the Arts, offered by Paul Beideman, President and CEO of Avenue of the Arts, Inc.; Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects, Inc.; and Kelly Vreslovic of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. The Vision will be used as a guide to create opportunities to meet short-term needs and achieve long-term goals to build the future of the iconic Avenue of the Arts.
DVRPC Planning Meeting
On Thursday, May 8, at the DVRPC Conference Center, 190 North Independence Mall West, Eighth Floor, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) will present ideas for the group’s next long-range plan and invites input from the public. DVRPC is working to identify future drivers of change and potential regional projects that may impact transportation, land use, the environment, and economic development.
Breakfast will be at 8:45 a.m., and the meeting will be from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Please RSVP to Jane Meconi at email@example.com or 215.238.2871.