Office Sector News
One South Broad Street Sold
The 26-story, 464,000-square-foot office building on the east side of Broad Street between City Hall and Chestnut Street has been sold for $68 million, or $146 a square foot, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on May 5. Aion Partners of New York joined with an unnamed Israeli insurance company to buy the building, which last sold for $48 million in 2003. CBRE Inc. arranged the sale.
Wells Fargo is the building’s anchor tenant, occupying 153,717 square feet (SF), or 33% of the property, until 2020. Walgreens has a 40-year lease for 25,498 SF in the section of the building previously occupied by Borders.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1kFQkDo.
Post Brothers to Develop Atlantic Building
Post Brothers will move ahead with converting The Atlantic building at 260 South Broad Street into a multifamily complex, as the deal to sell the building to Jefferson Apartments of McLean, Virginia, did not go through, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 29.
Post Brothers paid $27 million for the building in July 2012. The company has not announced how many units they will create or whether it will be condominiums or rentals, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1nJn83i.
Partial Funding for Divine Lorraine Redevelopment Secured
Billy Procida, President of Procida Funding & Advisors of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., on April 30 agreed to provide $31.5 million in financing for the renovation of the Divine Lorraine Hotel on North Broad Street, proposed by Eric Blumenfeld and his EB Realty Management Corporation, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The redevelopment plan for the Divine Lorraine includes 126 rental apartments and 21,000 square feet of commercial space, the article noted. Blumenfeld is also seeking a state grant of $5 million through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1neKj5s.
Reading Terminal Market Extends Deadline for RFP
Reading Terminal Market has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to select an operator for the Market’s demonstration kitchen. The kitchen is a state-of-the-art, fully equipped culinary instruction facility located inside the Market. Proposals are currently being accepted through Friday, May 16, 2014.
All food ingredients for activities at the demonstration kitchen must be sourced from Reading Terminal Market merchants; outside food is strictly prohibited. For more information about the demonstration kitchen opportunity, or to view the RFP in its entirety, please visit: readingterminalmarket.org.
Arts and Culture News
Public Hearing on Statewide Museum Support
The General Assembly’s Senate State Government Committee on May 7 held a public hearing on SB 1070, the Pennsylvania Museum Preservation Act, introduced by state Senator Patrick M. Browne (R., Lehigh County), on July 19, 2013, according to Capitol Recap, a subscription-based news service. The bill calls for allocating $9.5 million annually from a dedicated portion, about 3.1%, of the Realty Transfer Tax, for a museum grant fund that would be distributed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Dennis M. Wint, President and CEO of the Franklin Institute, testified that financial support from the Commonwealth was crucial to the maintenance and continued development of the science-related exhibits and educational programming at the Franklin Institute.
Charles Croce, Executive Director and COO of the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, told the committee that having a dedicated, predictable revenue source will allow the museum to better serve its audiences, and continue to deliver high quality programs.
To read SB 1070, please go to bit.ly/1fZo1Ta.
Museum of American Revolution Wins Approval
The $150 million Museum of the American Revolution on May 7 received final approval from the Philadelphia Art Commission for its architectural design by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
Demolition and site preparations at Third and Chestnut Streets began in April and this summer workers will proceed into the excavation and archaeology phase, with a formal groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for the fall, and completion for late 2016, the article noted.
To see renderings, please go to amrevmuseum.org/gallery/278.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1qn9AfY.
Convention Center Completes Agreement With Unions
The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority voted unanimously to approve a new Customer Satisfaction Agreement that modernizes the Center's work rules, provides expanded customer rights, and puts the Center in the best position to retain existing customers and attract new shows and events, the board announced on May 6.
The new Customer Satisfaction agreement includes expanded exhibitor rights, including the ability to use power tools and ladders when setting up exhibit booths; enabling Center management to call upon a core workforce of trade union members familiar with Center operations and policies; increased consistency of work hours for trade unions members; and an increased ability for contractors to manage the work.
Four of the six trade unions signed the Customer Satisfaction Agreement: Laborers' International Local 332; Stagehands Local 8; IBEW Local 98, and Iron Workers Local 405.
Carpenters Union Local 8 and Teamsters Local 107 did not sign the agreement by the deadline on May 5, but did sign it on Friday. However, Convention Center leadership indicated that the deadline had passed, and the contract could only be reopened by agreement of all who had signed by the deadline.
To read the May 6 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, please go to bit.ly/1qaYA5b. To read the May 10 article in the Inquirer, please go to bit.ly/1sC3Qg9.
New Hotel for University Center
Hospitality 3 of New York has completed a long-term lease with Drexel University and will construct a new Study Hotel at the corner of 33rd and Chestnut Streets, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on May 2.
The 145,000-square-foot hotel will feature 212 rooms, approximately 7,000 square feet of banquet/meeting space, a 105-seat corner restaurant and bar, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. DIGSAU has designed the building with a focus on engaging its surroundings, the press release noted. The hotel is scheduled to open in 2016.
The Study Hotel concept caters to college and university markets and was first tested at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, and proved a success.
To read the Business Journal article, please go to bit.ly/1kBJvE8.
To read the press release, please go to prn.to/1iiinWK.
Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown Renovated
The Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown at 21 North Juniper Street, across from City Hall, has just completed a $16 million renovation, according to a Marriott International Inc. press release issued on May 1.
The hotel’s 438 rooms, 61 suites, and 16 meeting rooms have all been refurbished, the fitness suite has new equipment, and the WiFi has been updated.
The hotel also has a restaurant, NINETEEN 26, named for the year the building, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was finished.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1hsAj18.
Grow America Act Presented to U.S. Congress
The Obama administration on April 29 delivered a four-year, $302 billion transportation funding bill, known as the Grow America Act, to Congress as a deadline loomed for avoiding a shutdown of federally funded projects.
The legislation calls for a 37% overall annual spending increase on transportation programs, including 21% for highways and 69% for transit. Funding for passenger rail service would be increased 71%, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The current authorization law for transportation, called MAP-21, expires at the end of September. The Highway Trust Fund, the principal source of funding for transportation projects, is expected to run out of money before that.
Public transportation supports nearly two million jobs across the country, the U.S. DOT notes on its website, and an estimated 13,000 jobs are supported by every $1 billion invested in public infrastructure.
For information about the bill, please go to dot.gov/grow-america. To read the bill, please go to 1.usa.gov/1iHY1vL [PDF].
Settlement Paves Way for Airport Expansion
The City of Philadelphia, Delaware County, Tinicum Township, and Interboro School District on May 5 announced that they had reached a settlement that will enable the $6.4 billion expansion of the Philadelphia International Airport.
The City agreed that it will not seek to acquire 72 Tinicum homes and displace 300 residents, and will pay through its aviation fund $1.86 million annually to be divided among Delaware County, Tinicum Township and the Interboro School District, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Money for the airport aviation fund comes from fees paid by airlines that use the airport, concessions, and other airport vendors.
The multi-billion dollar expansion program is expected to be completed in phases over 12 to 15 years. US Airways and American Airlines support parts of the expansion, but not building a fifth new runway, which they say is too expensive and won’t solve the problem of the congestion because the airspace between New York and Washington is so crowded.
To read the Philadelphia Business Journal article, please go to bit.ly/1njtk1R.
To read The Philadelphia Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1kYiYRH.
To read Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s press release, please go to bit.ly/1hxKsd0.
Philly Phlash Is Updated and Back in Service
The Philly Phlash returned to service on Friday with new diesel buses that can accommodate more passengers. The Independence Visitor Center Corporation competitively selected Krapf’s Coaches, Inc. of West Chester to produce the new colorful buses, compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The buses will be in service through December and will make 20 stops along Market Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and will also travel to the Philadelphia Zoo and Please Touch Museum.
A $5 all-day pass will give visitors unlimited rides, and single rides will cost $2. SEPTA pass holders, children under 4, and senior citizens can ride for free.
The Philly Phlash will run every 15 minutes between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., seven days a week through Labor Day, and on weekends only from September 5 through December 28.
For more information, please go to visitphilly.com/tours/philadelphia/phlash/.
Mobile App Aids Transportation Planners
CyclePhilly is a smartphone app for recording bicycle trips. To use the app, a rider starts the route, bikes to the destination and hits save, records the purpose of the trip, and a copy of the route that was taken is uploaded to CyclePhilly servers to be analyzed by planning authorities, Technical.ly Philly reported.
The app also has the ability to let the user report defective pavement issues and traffic signals that are not working. The app will also take information about where more bike parking is needed, the article noted.
For more information about the app or to download it, please go to CyclePhilly.org.
To read the Technically Phil.ly article, please go to bit.ly/1qbyoHD.
Preliminary Approval for Bridge Bike Path
The board of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) on May 21 is expected to vote on a $2.9 million plan for a bicycle and pedestrian ramp on the Camden side of the Ben Franklin Bridge, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 7, the day a DRPA committee approved the plan.
The ramp will be about 800 feet long and 10 feet wide, landing at street level in Camden at Fifth Street. The platform will extend out from the bridge, carrying the walkway around a steel fence enclosure.
If approved, the final design will be completed this year, and the ramp will be built next year.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1qw6GWi.
Biking to Work Is on the Increase
Philadelphia, like many other U.S. cities is seeing an increase in bicycle commuters, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released on May 8. Citywide in Philadelphia in 2000, 0.9% of workers arrived at work via bicycle, and in the American Community Survey of 2008-2012 conducted by the Census, 2.0% were using that form of transportation, a statistically significant increase, according to the Census. For data on how Center City workers commute, see centercityphila.org/docs/CCR13_transportation.pdf [PDF].
Nationwide, the number of people who traveled to work by bike increased roughly 60% over the last decade, from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 during the 2008-2012 period. This is the largest percentage increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey.
To read the Census Bureau report, please go to 1.usa.gov/1m1ZxbK [PDF].
Parks and Open Space News
All Parks in City Now Smoke-Free
Mayor Michael A. Nutter on April 29 signed an Executive Order making all parks in the city smoke-free zones, effective immediately. Under the order, smoking is prohibited in more than 100 neighborhood parks and watershed parks, totaling more than 11,000 acres of public space. The policy will be enforced by park staffs.
New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta have prohibited smoking in public parks.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1fQO9Kl.
School District News
School District to Sell More Empty School Buildings
The School District of Philadelphia is preparing to sell 20 more empty school buildings, including William Penn High School on North Broad Street, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 5. The district approved the sale of eight buildings in March.
The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) will handle the sale using a website set up for that purpose at PHLschoolsales.com and will offer a series of open houses from May 19 to June 2, the article noted.
The PIDC expects to make recommendations about the sales beginning June 9, and offers will be accepted continuously until all the properties have been sold.
In other District news, Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite Jr. appeared before City Council on May 5 and announced his plan for Fiscal Year 2015 (bit.ly/1sb8tvx). He asked Council to extend the 1% Sales Tax and earmark $120 million annually for Philadelphia public schools, a move that Council President Darrell L. Clarke opposes (bit.ly/1l9fdZL); and generate an additional $75 million in new revenues for schools from local revenue sources. He is asking for $150 million from the Commonwealth and $95 million in concessions from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. With no new money, the budget would require 1,000 layoffs and class sizes of up to 41, among other things (bit.ly/1j4xglv).
GPCC Advocates for Reform of State Taxes
Rob Wonderling, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) and Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, on April 29, teamed up for an op-ed article in the Harrisburg Patriot-News’ PennLive to advocate for a more competitive tax structure to grow jobs and economic opportunity in the Commonwealth.
“An essential step is to ensure the phase-out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax (CSFT) until it is no longer on the tax rolls,” they wrote, adding “Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states in the nation to tax both business income (Corporate Net Income Tax) and assets (Capital Stock & Franchise Tax).
The Commonwealth has made some advantageous changes, the article notes, but other states have done more to create an economic climate that encourages job creation, retention, and new capital investments.
To read the article, “Business tax cuts - the sure path to Pa. prosperity,” please go to bit.ly/1mehIt4.
Mayor Raises Minimum Wage
Mayor Michael A. Nutter on May 6 signed an Executive Order mandating that contractors working for the City provide a minimum wage of $12/hour beginning January 1, 2015.
The Executive Order also will raise first-tier subcontractors’ pay to $10.88/hour beginning with contracts sought on or after May 20, and increasing to $12/hour beginning January 1, 2015, according to the mayor’s press release.
Mayor Nutter’s initiative was prompted by President Obama’s push for an increase to the federal minimum wage, the release noted.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1fPrQdt.
City Studying Proposals for Ads on City Property
The City of Philadelphia has received a dozen proposals to manage the sale and placement of ads on City property, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 8. The City's request for proposals lists 45 libraries, including the Central Library on Logan Square, as potential ad sites, the article noted, which could bring in several million dollars.
Ads could appear on City property by the end of the year.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1stH5uQ.
Tabas Named Chairman of PICA
Governor Tom Corbett has chosen Lawrence J. Tabas, a partner in the law firm Obermeyer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, to serve the remaining two-year-term of former Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) Chairman Sam Katz, Newsworks reported on May 1.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1lIBejb.
City Tax Revenues Increase for FY14
The City of Philadelphia’s second quarter General Fund tax revenue in Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) is projected to be $2,777.3 million, an increase of $16.5 million from the Fiscal Year 2014-18 Five-Year Financial Plan estimate, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority’s (PICA) report on the City of Philadelphia’s Quarterly City Managers Report for the second quarter of FY14.
Wage and earnings tax revenue is projected at $1,238.1 million, a decline of $36.1 million from the Plan estimate. Business income and receipts tax (BIRT) revenue is projected at $461.3 million, an increase of $51.3 million from Plan.
General Fund obligations for FY14 were expected to be $3,997.6 million, an increase of $102.8 million from the FY14-18 Plan estimate. Part of the increase was attributed to a $45 million pass through of a grant from the state to the Philadelphia School District, which had not been included in the Plan.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1l8rhdX [PDF].
City Tax Revenue Higher in March
City of Philadelphia tax revenues for March totaled almost $345 million, a 15% increase over March of last year, according to the Office of the City Controller’s Financial Forecast & Snapshot.
Wage, earnings and net profit tax collections in March totaled $139 million, an 8% increase over the same period last year.
Sales tax collected increased 1.6% over last March, and totaled $19.6 million.
The real estate tax brought in $110.6 million in March, a 22% increase over last March.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1i2GtVh [PDF].
Cincinnati Panhandling Law Well-Defined and Enforced
Cincinnati has developed specific criteria for when panhandling is illegal in the city and also charges aggressive panhandlers with a misdemeanor, according to an article by station WCPO in Cincinnati.
Among the places where panhandling is prohibited are: within 20 feet of an ATM or bank entrance; at any parking lot or garage; within 20 feet of a crosswalk; where people are standing in line to go to a restaurant or store; on private property without the permission of the owner; and near hotels and outdoor cafes. In addition, aggressive panhandling is a misdemeanor and people are encouraged to call 911 to report such activity.
In contrast, Philadelphia’s aggressive panhandlers are cited with a $25 ticket, if he/she violates the provisions of the Sidewalk Ordinance, after a complicated process that includes informing the violator that he/she is in violation of the ordinance and seeking help for the person.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1kOW3bC.
CPDC/CCD’s State of Center City Report Released
In “A 21st -century Center City,” an op-ed article published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 30, Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District, summarized many of the findings of the State of Center City, 2014 report. The 75-page annual overview of the downtown was released on April 22, along with an accompanying document, Center City Philadelphia Developments: 2013-2017, which focused on 50 developments in the downtown.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/QAs4ZQ.
To read or download State of Center City, 2014, please go to centercityphila.org/socc/
To read or download Center City Philadelphia Developments: 2013-2017, please go to centercityphila.org/developments/.
SEPTA Open House for Planning 2015-2019
On Tuesday, May 20, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., SEPTA will hold a public open house to gather input on the development of its Strategic Business Plan for Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019. The open house will be held in the SEPTA Board Room on the Mezzanine Level of SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street.
Draft contents of the Strategic Business Plan will be released at the event for public review and comment, and SEPTA staff will be available to answer questions. A PowerPoint presentation will be given at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Public comments will be accepted through June 20. Please send comments to StrategicPlan@SEPTA.org, or to SEPTA, 1234 Market Street, 9th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107-3780, Attention: Strategic Planning & Analysis Department.
For questions, please contact Byron S. Comati at bcomati@SEPTA.org or Erik Johanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Higher Ed as Part of the Community
The Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance (DVSGA) will present a panel discussion, “Smart Growth Exemplified: Where Colleges Meet Communities,” on Wednesday, June 4, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at PECO Energy Hall, 2301 Market Street.
Hear how colleges, which used to create inward facing campuses, are embracing the wider community, looking for ways to reconnect their campuses to their neighborhoods and regular street life.
Panelists include James Creedon, Senior Vice President for Construction, Facilities, and Operations, Temple University; Donald Moore, Senior Vice President for Facilities, Planning, and Operations, Rowan University; Larry McEwan, Chestnut Hill Land Use Committee; Jim Tucker, Senior Vice President for Student Life and Administrative Services, Drexel University; Anne Papageorge, Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate Services, University of Pennsylvania; and Elaine Schaefer, President, Radnor Township Commissioners.
Tickets range from $10 to $65. To register, please go to conta.cc/1mCfU1H.