Office Sector News
1525 Locust Street Sold
Allan Domb on April 14 purchased the 19-story Class A office building at 1525 Locust Street for $17 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The seller was Equity Commonwealth, a Chicago-based real estate trust. The building is fully leased.
Domb owns the smaller adjacent office building at 1521 Locust Street, which has Schlesinger's Delicatessen on its ground floor.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1phSZuI.
An analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF) shows that among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, the Philadelphia region ranks in the 3rd quartile in job creation – both when compared to 12 months ago and when compared to the last peak. Among peers on the Acela corridor, the Philadelphia region’s growth of 1.8% in the last year is slightly above that of Boston’s (1.6%), but trails Baltimore’s (1.9%), Washington, D.C.’s (2.3%) and New York City’s (2.4%). More significantly, our region has only 1.8% more jobs than it did at its last peak, a figure well behind peers, which are up from 5.2% (Baltimore) to 12.9% (New York City) from the last peak. Of the 66 metro areas in NGKF’s analysis, only two posted job losses in the last year and only 11 have failed to surpass their previous peak. In this context, Philadelphia’s modest job gains still leave room for improvement.
Hotel Planned as Cambria Flagship
Pearl Properties’ planned 14-story hotel at Broad and Locust Streets will be branded under the Cambria flag of Choice Hotels International of Rockville, Maryland, and will feature 222 rooms, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 20. The hotel will be the new Cambria brand's flagship location when completed.
The hotel plans have been submitted for review by the Civic Design Review panel, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1VInTdL.
Non-Arts Investment Flourishing on Avenue of the Arts
Seven large developments are either underway or proposed along South Broad Street, with an estimated $810 million in direct construction costs for the residential, hotel, and retail projects, which potentially will generate more than $1.3 billion in economic impact for the City of Philadelphia and $21 million in fiscal impact over the construction period, according to a new report from Econsult Solutions, Inc., The Economic Impact from non-Arts Investment in the Avenue of the Arts, released on April 4.
The projects will support 1,420 direct, indirect, and induced jobs each year of construction, the report noted, and generate an estimated $21 million in tax revenues to the City and $33 million in tax revenues to the Commonwealth.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1TeuoPN.
PCCA Documents Improvements in Customer Service
Using the year-over-years costs associated with the annual Philadelphia Auto Show, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) found that in 2015’s show, labor hours were reduced by 5,390, overall labor costs were down by 20%, and costs for setting up and dismantling were down by 25%, compared to 2014, attributable to the Customer Satisfaction Agreement negotiated in May 2014, according to the PCCA’s recently released Progress and Partnerships, 2015 Year in Review.
Among the capital investments was replacement of the roofing over the Center’s five contiguous exhibit halls.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1qF5Xnw.
4.3 Million Visited Independence Park in 2015
Independence National Historical Park attracted 4.3 million visitors last year, generating more than $365.3 million in economic impact, 20% more than in 2014, and supporting 3,853 jobs, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 29, based on a newly released report, 2015 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, from the National Park Service.
Hotels benefited the most, attracting nearly 32% of the $247 million in visitor spending, followed by restaurants, at nearly 23%.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1UmsEJ2. To read the National Park Service’s report, please go to 1.usa.gov/26CdGU9.
City Receives $43 Million for DNC Security
The City of Philadelphia has been awarded $43 million from the federal government to cover security costs during the Democratic National Convention, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 22.
The money will go toward personnel and overtime costs as well as a variety of supplies ranging from public-safety radios to motorcycle helmets and extension cords.
Any operational costs that are not security-related such as providing extra trash pick-ups will be assumed by the taxpayers, the article noted.
To see a list of costs that will be covered by the grant, please go to bit.ly/1WmkksS.
Fiberglass Donkeys Across Center City for DNC
Representing 50 states, five U.S. territories, Washington, D.C., and Democrats Abroad, 57 fiberglass donkeys, each weighing 250 pounds, will be placed at public locations such as the Independence Beer Garden, the Betsy Ross House, and Dilworth Park, from July 1 through September 5, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 19.
Philadelphia 2016 (PHLDNC) partnered with the Mural Arts Program and ArtJawn.com to choose 30 local artists to paint the donkeys, which are being paid for by PHLDNC and made by Roe Fabricators of Chester.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/26gOIta. To read PHLDNC’s press release, please go to bit.ly/23LE3bg.
In related news, PHLDNC has launched a new website with information about the convention to be held July 25-28, including news, media logistics and a “Philly” tab for suggestions on what to do in town, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported April 28.
The website also offers information about biking, landmarks, coffee shops, and other attractions and activities. The site has a Spanish-language version.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1rFg10X. To visit the new website, please go to demconvention.com/welcome-to-philadelphia/.
Revenue Increased at SugarHouse in March
Revenue in March rose 5.8%, the fourth consecutive month of growth, at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
In March, the casino took in $26,519,098, compared to $25,072,941 in February. The Commonwealth’s share of taxes was $6,846,261 compared to $6,522,516 in February. The City of Philadelphia collected $860,960 compared to February’s $818,108.
To see all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/1I0aqlt.
Manufacturing Activity Slips, Service Economy Stable
Manufacturing conditions in the region regressed slightly in April, according to firms responding to the Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey, while the service economy remained stable, according to the Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia conducts both monthly surveys.
In manufacturing, new orders were up for 22.9%, down for 22.9%, and remained the same for 51.9%. In nonmanufacturing, new orders were up for one-third (33.7%) of the responding firms, down for 19.8%, and remained the same for 38.5%.
In manufacturing, the number of full-time employees increased for 8.0%, fell for 26.5%, and remained the same for more than half (51.8%). In the service sector, 18.9% of the firms reported an expanded number of employees, 11.5% indicated fewer, and almost two-thirds (65.1%) reported the same number.
Looking ahead six months, manufacturing was slightly more optimistic, with 50.8% expecting conditions to improve, while 45.7% of service providers expected conditions to improve. Almost one-third (32.9%) of manufacturers expected conditions to remain the same and 8.6% foresaw a downturn. Responses from the service industry indicated 33.6% expected no change and 10.4% anticipated worsening conditions.
To read the Manufacturing Report, please go to bit.ly/1SMJRwa. To read the Nonmanufacturing Report, please go to bit.ly/1SpToXJ.
Eds and Meds News
Commission Delivers Final Report on Pre-K
The city's Commission on Universal Pre-K issued its final report to the Mayor and City Council with recommendations for how to expand pre-K to 3- and 4-year-olds, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 21.
The commission recommended a mixed delivery system, meaning the program should include family and community-based pre-K centers in addition to Philadelphia School District classrooms; that priority be given to children in neighborhoods with the highest concentration of poverty; and that the city fund 6,500 slots over five years at $8,500 per child.
The report notes that the majority of the group recommends a sugary-drink tax to bring in the $60 million a year needed to pay for the program.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1rv1Xad. To read the complete final recommendations of the report, please go to 1.usa.gov/23Wslux [PDF].
Philadelphia Education Fund Has New Leader
Farah Jimenez, a Philadelphia School Reform Commission member and former head of the People's Emergency Center, has been named President and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund, the independent nonprofit that champions quality public education in the city and provides scholarships to help students attend college, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 24.
Jimenez will succeed Darren Spielman, who left the organization in late February. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/24g1NBd.
Arts and Culture News
Cultural Fund Awards $2.6 Million
The Philadelphia Cultural Fund has awarded $2.6 million in 2016 Art & Culture General Operating grants to 284 organizations, including the Walnut Street Theatre, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Opera Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Wilma Theater, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 21.
Grants are made from the city budget allocation to the Cultural Fund for operating support of Philadelphia-based arts-and-cultural organizations. Last year’s grants totaled $2.49 million.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/22R6Hlu. To view the complete list of recipients, please go to philaculturalfund.org/recipients/.
Historical Marker Honors Albert M. Greenfield
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission on April 21 unveiled a historical marker outside The Philadelphia Building at 1315 Walnut Street, in honor of Albert M. Greenfield (1887-1967).
The tribute on the sign states: “Greenfield created an East Coast business here in retail, real estate, hotels and banks. He supported equality for African Americans and received a papal award for promoting Catholic/Jewish harmony. He championed political reform locally and nationally.”
The marker was approved by the Commission in 2015, along with 24 others. To view the complete list of markers approved in 2014, 2015 and 2016, please go to bit.ly/1WRIJXQ.
Spirit Airlines Adds New Routes
Spirit Airlines will add daily nonstop routes from Philadelphia to Detroit and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, beginning Friday, April 29, joining a nonstop daily flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles International Airport added on April 14, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 20.
A seasonal daily flight between Philadelphia and Minneapolis-St. Paul will be in service through November 9.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1NlImCI.
Nighttime Lane Closures on I-76 and Market Street
PennDOT on Friday announced that one lane will be closed on westbound I-76 between I-676 and Girard Avenue in Philadelphia today, Monday, May 2, through Wednesday, May 4, from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. for bridge deck sealing.
In addition, there will be one lane closure on westbound Market Street between Front Street and Chestnut Street today through Wednesday, May 4, from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., also for bridge deck sealing.
Both operations are part of PennDOT’s $2.5 million project to repair bridge decks and seal joints on 16 bridges in Philadelphia.
For more information, please visit 511PA.com.
PATCO to Adapt Freedom Card to Work with SEPTA Key
The PATCO board has approved a $1.74 million contract to overhaul the software behind its Freedom Card to make it compatible with the SEPTA Key fare payment system, PlanPhilly reported on April 20.
The work will be performed by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc., which installed PATCO’s smart card fare system, and should be completed by early 2017.
Following the software upgrade, Freedom Card will work for any SEPTA fare, including weekly and monthly passes, and will enable the possibility of SEPTA Key cards to be used to board PATCO trains, though that has not been approved.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1U6Pjcj.
SEPTA Receives Grant for Electric Buses
The Federal Transportation Administration has awarded SEPTA a $2.6 million grant for 25 emissions-free electric buses, to be manufactured by Proterra, a California company, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 19.
The new 40-foot buses will have a 77-passenger capacity and operate on Routes 29 and 79 in South Philadelphia, chosen because they are short routes with no hills. The grant money will also help pay for two charging stations, though the locations have not yet been selected. The buses are expected to be in service next spring.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/20YnOCC.
Indego Bike Share to Expand
As Indego, the city's bike-sharing system, celebrated its first birthday on April 21, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the system would add 24 new docking stations, 300 new bicycles, and a new way for low-income residents to pay to use the system by allowing Pennsylvania ACCESS cardholders to obtain 30 days of unlimited one-hour rides for just $5, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Funding for the expansion was provided in part by a $1.5 million grant from the William Penn Foundation.
In its first year, Indego gained 8,300 memberships and provided 421,000 rides.
To read the article and view the locations of the new docking stations, please go to bit.ly/1Sof4n4.
RiverLink Ferry Has New Owner
The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) has approved the transfer of the RiverLink Ferry’s ownership to the nonprofit Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, which currently operates the ferry, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The transfer is being made free of charge so that DRPA can avoid returning federal grant money that was awarded to keep the ferry running.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1NmntHu.
Parks and Open Space News
Boat Pond Opening Launches New Season at Sister Cities Park
The boat pond at Sister Cities Park, 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, officially opened for the season on Friday, April 29. A variety of activities and events are being offered to keep the whole family busy this spring and summer.
Programming partners include Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Free Library of Philadelphia.
The popular Pairings on the Parkway begins May 12, and continues every Thursday through September 15, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The free BYOB event features singer-songwriter-style live music from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Logan Square Café in the park offers a special summer grilling menu, while the Children’s Discovery Garden and boat pond have extended hours.
For complete updates, please go to SisterCitiesPark.org and follow @CCDParks on Twitter.
New Members Named to PGW Board
Mayor Jim Kenney has appointed six new members and retained one at the nonprofit Philadelphia Facilities Management Corporation, which acts as the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) board of directors, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 27.
Led by Seth Shapiro, chief operating officer of the Goldenberg Group, the members are Louis Rodriguez, Rodriguez Consulting, an engineering and land surveying firm; James Engler, deputy mayor for policy and legislation; Marian B. Tasco, former city councilwoman; Catherine Paster (retained), the city's first deputy finance director; Al Mezzaroba, former president of the Pennsylvania Convention Center; and Leigh Whitaker, SugarHouse Casino's vice president of communications.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1qULcUV.
‘State of Center City, 2016’ Released
Philadelphia’s largest employment center and fastest growing residential section is showing unprecedented signs of growth and new investment, according to the newly released, 73-page State of Center City, 2016, produced by the Center City District (CCD) and Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC). A companion report, the 45-page Center City Philadelphia Developments, 2015–2019, documents 42 projects of all types under construction at the end of December 2015, and totaling $5.2 billion in new investment.
To download the State of Center City, 2016, or individual chapters, please go to centercityphila.org/socc. To download Center City Philadelphia Developments, 2015-2019, please go to centercityphila.org/developments/. To read Paul R. Levy’s op-ed article about the reports, “Use Phila.'s strengths to promote further growth,” which appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 28, please go to bit.ly/1N3TOTy.
Anniversaries of CCD and CPDC
We are looking forward to celebrating on Thursday the 25th anniversary of CCD and the 60th anniversary of CPDC at a special fundraiser at Dilworth Park. We will highlight the work of both organizations and launch the Center City District Foundation (CCDF), the charitable affiliate of the CCD, to help support the next generation of public space improvements in Center City Philadelphia. An online auction is now viewable and bidding will begin tomorrow (Tuesday, May 3). Both silent and live auctions will be a part of Thursday’s event, along with entertainment, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and dinner. For details and to register to bid, please visit 501auctions.com/ccd/. See you Thursday!
Jane’s Walk 2016 This Weekend
A dozen neighborhood walks in various parts of the city will take place from noon on Friday, May 6, through Sunday, May 8, beginning at 5:00 p.m., as part of Jane's Walk 2016, organized by PlanPhilly, who is partnering with the Center for Architecture + Design, 1218 Arch Street, to celebrate what would have been Jane Jacobs' 100th birthday this May.
The Center for Architecture + Design will be open on Saturday, May 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Sunday, May 8, from noon to 5:00 p.m., and will be showing Jane Jacobs videos.
For more information, please go to bit.ly/1TyUAai.