Office Sector News
Class A Buildings Gain Value
Class A asking rents in the CBD are now averaging just shy of $30 per square foot (sf), closing the gap with Trophy average asking rents of $37-$38/sf, according to JLL Snapshots published on May 4.
Several Class A buildings have crested the $30/sf asking mark, with some non-Trophy Class A office space bringing up to $36.50/sf. These buildings are in both University City and on east and west Market Street.
To view the report, please go to bit.ly/2pGFKUX.
New Partnership to Promote Start-Ups
Benjamin’s Desk, the office coworking company, and Washington, D.C.-based 1776, which provides intellectual, social, and financial capital for start-ups, on May 2 announced a partnership to form Benjamin’s Desk Challenge Center Powered by 1776 that aims to strengthen global connections and promote interaction between Philadelphia’s start-up companies and corporations and government, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Participating start-ups will have free access to Union, 1776’s digital start-up network while Benjamin’s Desk’s 1701 Walnut Street site will serve as a meeting spot.
The initiative is seeking corporate partners; interested parties can email email@example.com. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2p1VLJx.
A Makeover of Market East
An article in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer discusses the change brought by the comprehensive redevelopment along East Market Street and the 24-hour vibrancy it is bringing to an underutilized area of the city.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2pzqA8I.
Opera House on North Broad to Be Restored
Developer Eric Blumenfeld has entered into an agreement with concert promoter Live Nation to revive the historic Metropolitan Opera House at North Broad and Poplar Streets, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 4. The opera house has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972.
Plans include restoring the 3,500-capacity theater, built by impresario Oscar Hammerstein I in 1908, and programming the space with a broad range of entertainment offerings.
Construction is expected to begin in June and be completed by the end of 2018. The project will provide 200 to 300 construction jobs and approximately the same number of part- and full-time jobs to staff the venue.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2pJFiHa.
Cambria Hotel ‘Topped Off’
Choice Hotels International, Inc. (CHH), along with Pearl Properties and Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company on May 4 announced the “topping off” of the Cambria Hotel Philadelphia at 219 South Broad Street.
The 223-room, 15-story Cambria, designed by DAS Architects, Inc., will feature a rooftop bar, restaurant with outdoor terrace overlooking Broad Street, 2,500 square feet of meeting space, a business center and fitness center.
To read the press release, please go to yhoo.it/2pLw8fh.
One Riverside Completed
Carl Dranoff’s One Riverside condominium project at 25th and Locust Streets on the east bank of the Schuylkill River celebrated its grand opening on Tuesday, May 2, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The 22-story building has 68 residences and is approximately 80% sold.
Construction on One Riverside, designed by Cecil Baker + Partners, began in 2015. It is the first new high-rise condominium project to be delivered in the city in almost seven years, as apartments and multifamily projects have dominated the market.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2pYAZuI.
Scannapieco Plans New Development in Society Hill
Scannapieco Development Corporation has the Nelson Building at 222-230 Walnut Street under agreement in anticipation of building a luxury condominium tower similar to the 26-story project, 500 Walnut Street, currently under construction, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on May 11.
The site is zoned CMX-3, which allows for mixed-use development. Scannapieco is scheduled today to discuss preliminary plans for the project with the Society Hill Civic Association, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2r1M3Y0 (requires subscription).
Council Passes Bill to Protect Sidewalk Traffic
City Council on May 11 passed Bill #161108, introduced on December 8 by Councilwoman Helen Gym, which toughens current regulations requiring temporary, covered sidewalks or walkways that protect pedestrians from traffic when construction projects block sidewalks, KYW reported.
The goal is to improve pedestrian safety and allow for safe passage of anyone who is biking, walking, in a stroller or wheelchair, the article noted.
To read Bill #161108, please go to bit.ly/2pGpbbL. To read KYW’s article, please go to cbsloc.al/2qBe7Sg.
BIA Responds to Feedback on Tax Abatement Report
Since the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia (BIA) in March published its updated analysis of the City’s 10-year tax abatement program, it has received a substantial amount of comment, which has led it to publish a guest column in the Philadelphia Business Journal, “Dispelling common myths about Philadelphia's 10-year tax abatement,” which further clarifies some misunderstandings about the program.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2qTPHzr. To read the original report prepared by Kevin C. Gillen, please go to bit.ly/2puTlz4 [PDF].
City House Prices Continue Upward Trend
Philadelphia’s house prices increased by an average of 5.0% in the first quarter of 2017, with neighborhoods in and around Center City generally experiencing the greatest appreciation, according to Kevin C. Gillen, senior research fellow at Drexel University's Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation. Neighborhoods seeing the highest increases included Center City/Fairmount (Gillen’s definition), +6.7%; Lower Northeast Philadelphia, +6.7%; West Philadelphia, +7.9%; and South Philadelphia, +9.0%. University City’s house prices fell -9.0%.
Home sales volume in the quarter also was strong, with 4,375 houses transacted under arms-length conditions, up from 3,835 in the previous quarter and up from 3,915 in the same quarter last year.
Thirty homes sold for $1 million or more, the third highest quarter in Philadelphia’s history.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1qntloS.
Hotel Association Supports Proposed Hotel Improvement District
City Councilman Derek S. Green on May 4 introduced Bill #170431, which would establish a citywide, hotel business improvement district that would only assess hotels – the Philadelphia Hospitality Improvement Levy District – for the purpose of helping to fill rooms. Funded by an assessment of three-quarters of one percent (0.75%) of gross room rental revenue from hotels of 50 rooms or more, the improvement district would be authorized until December 31, 2022.
Revenue collected from the special assessment fees would be used to pursue city-wide events and conferences, as well as sporting and cultural events. The first-year budget (2018) is estimated at $5,815,249.
Philadelphia hotel businesses lost potential room-night sales from at least four lost events due to lack of financial resources, the bill noted.
To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/2pXzufn.
Convention Center Hosted 1.1 Million People in 2016
The Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC) in 2016 hosted 221 conventions, meetings, trade shows and other events that brought 1.1 million people to the center, filled 365,000 hotel room nights, and stimulated direct spending of $256 million, according to PCC’s annual report, Great Space: 2016 Year in Review, released on May 9.
The report noted a series of capital improvements that included $5 million for network infrastructure cabling and wireless upgrades, $1 million for renovation of the Grand Hall terrazzo floor, and $4.5 million for restroom renovations.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2psNGcb.
In related news, the Independence Visitor Center Corporation (IVCC) in 2016 saw 2.5 million visitors, a 5% increase in annual visitation, with 82% coming from the U.S. and 18% from outside the U.S., according to the IVCC’s annual report released on May 9.
The Independence Visitor Center accounted for 48.8% of all visitation to Independence National Historical Park and 78% were leisure travelers.
The report also noted that PHLASH ridership increased to 314,496 riders, the largest ridership in 22 years of service.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2qsOz9X [PDF].
Eds and Meds News
Penn Medicine’s Plan for New Patient Pavilion
The University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine) formally announced its plan to build a new $1.5 billion New Patient Pavilion (NPP) with emergency room and 47 operating rooms, on the site of the former Penn Tower, 33rd Street and Convention Avenue, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 3. The 17-story building will also house 500 private patient rooms.
Construction of the 1.5-million-square-foot facility began in September 2016 and will progress through 2020, with occupancy projected for spring 2021.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2pL4yPd. To learn more about the project, please see Penn Medicine’s Project Overview at bit.ly/2pdprj9.
State Highway Repairs Underway in Philadelphia
The Wolf Administration on May 5 announced that construction is scheduled to begin on an $8.8 million project to repair and resurface 26 miles of state highway in Philadelphia. Work on the project, which began on Monday, May 8, is expected to be completed in late October.
State highways scheduled for resurfacing include Spring Garden Street between 39th Street/Lancaster Avenue and the Art Museum Circle.
To read the announcement, please go to bit.ly/2riH3vh.
18th Street Bridge Closed Today
The 18th Street Bridge that crosses over I-676 closed at 9:00 a.m. today and will remain closed for one year as part of PennDOT’s $64.8 million I-676 bridge repair project, Philadelphia magazine reported on May 12.
Traffic will be detoured east on Vine Street, north on 16th Street and west of Vine Street to return to 18th Street.
Later this month, PennDOT will open a newly-built pedestrian cover over the highway between 18th and 19th Street.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2r9dJXl.
SEPTA Requests $82.7 Million from City
SEPTA has asked the City of Philadelphia for $82.7 million, or about 6% of its operating budget, to supplement $705 million from the state, and $17.5 million from four Philadelphia suburban counties, PlanPhilly reported on May 9. SEPTA also asked the City for $4.5 million in capital funds to help satisfy local matching fund requirements in its $682 million budget.
The City’s contribution to SEPTA’s operating budget will support projects such as the renovation of the City Hall station and 15th Street Concourse, trolley modernization, implementation of SEPTA Key, design modernization and ADA accessibility for stations.
City Council is expected to fulfill SEPTA’s budget request when it votes on the City’s $4.4 billion spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2q3J1zH.
In other SEPTA news, Governor Tom Wolf on May 9 announced that U.S. Representative Dwight Evans will step down from his position on the SEPTA board, effective immediately, and the governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Obra S. Kernodle IV, will replace Evans.
Obra is from Philadelphia and serves on the boards of Visit Philadelphia and Welcome America.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2plhzjt.
Brookings: Lack of Inclusive Growth in Cities Creates Divisions
The lack of “inclusive growth,” defined as all segments of society sharing in the benefits of economic growth, helps explain political and societal divisions, especially in Europe and the United States, according to an article published by Brookings on April 27.
Brookings tracks metropolitan progress in the areas of overall growth (size of the economy), prosperity (productivity and standards of living), and inclusion (broad-based opportunity and narrowed economic disparity).
Philadelphia, like many large cities, saw progress in growth and prosperity, but not in overall and racial inclusion. By studying the cities that improved in all three areas, the researchers were able to formulate an economic development strategy, one that prioritizes both high-skilled, innovative sectors like technology and middle-skill trade sectors such as manufacturing and logistics that can facilitate inclusive growth.
To read the article, “The surprisingly short list of US metro areas achieving inclusive economic growth,” please go to brook.gs/2r6jkhR.
Civic Leaders Express Support for Constitutional Amendment
David Thornburgh, CEO of the Committee of Seventy, and Josh Sevin, acting executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, on May 8, in an op-ed article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, voiced support for the amendment to the state Constitution championed by the broad-based Philadelphia Growth Coalition, which would modify the uniformity clause in the Commonwealth constitution to allow the City the option of raising the property tax on commercial real estate up to 15% higher than that on residential properties, only if the additional revenue is directed to the reduction of wage and businesses taxes.
Last year, the proposed amendment passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate. It has been reintroduced this year as HB 871 and SB 41.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2pYCl7y. To learn more about the Philadelphia Growth Coalition, please go to philadelphiagrowthcoalition.com.
Citizens Bank Will Replace Wells Fargo for City’s Payroll
Philadelphia City Council on May 11 passed two bills that allow the City to remove Wells Fargo as the bank handling the City’s $2 billion payroll (Bill #170329) and enter into an agreement with Citizens Bank to handle those services at the beginning of the new fiscal year, which begins in July (Bill #170330), the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. Wells Fargo will continue to maintain $1 billion that is not part of the payroll, as that aspect of the work was not up for bid. The bills were sponsored by Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell and Councilwoman Cindy Bass.
To read Bill #170329, please go to bit.ly/2psT6J8. To read Bill #170330, please go to bit.ly/2r1yHuS. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2r8lwVs.
Parks and Open Space News
Free Activities at Dilworth Park Through May 25
Spring Training at Dilworth Park presented by Rothman Institute continues through May 25 offering a variety of free activities on Tuesdays through Thursdays, and featuring tips and tricks from experts at Rothman Institute plus top-notch trainers leading free classes:
Tuesdays, it’s yoga at noon and boot camp at 6:00 p.m.;
Wednesdays, at 1:00 p.m., Silver Sneakers, a fitness program for boomers and beyond, and at 6:30 p.m., City Fit Girls Running Club;
Thursdays at 6:00 p.m., Zumba with music powered by Live Nation.
Spring Training at Dilworth Park is presented by Rothman Institute, with program partners Optimal Sport Health Clubs and City Fit Girls. For complete information on all activities at the park, please go to dilworthpark.org.
CCD Sips Returns for Summer
Beginning Wednesday, June 7, Center City District and Effen Vodka will partner for the return of Center City District Sips, the popular weekly happy hour featuring Effen Blood Orange and Effen Green Apple, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., in more than 80 bars and restaurants, through August 30. Participating bars and restaurants will offer $5 cocktails featuring Effen Vodka, $4 wine, $3 beer and half-priced appetizers.
Sips at Dilworth Park Café will provide outdoor seating along with a DJ each week.
New this year is the CCD Sips Style Guide, presented by American Express, featuring fashion and beauty retailers on the Sips website, offering promotions in-store before Sips.
For complete information, please visit ccdsips.com.
Primary Election Is Tomorrow
Polls for tomorrow’s May 16th statewide primary election are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
In Philadelphia, registered Democrats and Republicans will be choosing their parties’ candidate for District Attorney, Controller, nine seats on the Court of Common Pleas, two seats on the Philadelphia Municipal Court, and more than 5,000 election officials in 1,686 voting divisions.
For complete information, please visit the Committee of Seventy’s website at seventy.org/tools/elections-voting/2017-election-guide.