Gallery Redevelopment Delayed
While the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) on May 20 approved four bills that would enable the redevelopment of The Gallery at Market East, eight days later City Council’s Committee of the Whole recessed their public hearing until Wednesday, June 3, without approving plans. Questions were raised by Council as to whether the City’s new living-wage rules apply not only to the developer, but also to employees of tenants in the redeveloped mall. Council also sought language clarifying that previous tenants will be offered space first when the mall reopens. To read PlanPhilly’s report on the meeting, please go to bit.ly/1KCS7cA.
Eds and Meds News
Health Cooperative to Promote Health Care Innovation
A new Health Care Innovation Collaborative has been formed, with members Ben Franklin Technology Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Comcast Corporation, Drexel University, Independence Blue Cross, Safeguard Scientifics Inc., Jefferson Health, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 27.
The Collaborative’s key goals are to help big institutions, even when they are competitors, solve problems by connecting them with start-ups and to enable healthcare-oriented innovation companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The collaborative is to be officially announced Wednesday at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's annual State of the Region meeting in Center City.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1eE1FH3.
1330 Chestnut Street Sold
Carlyle Development Group of Purchase, N.Y., has sold 1330 Chestnut Street, a three-story, 80,000-square-foot building that houses retail, including West Elm, to the Real Estate Equity Company of Englewood, N.J., for $29 million, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on May 26. The building is an important link between the Midtown Village corridor on 13th Street and East Chestnut.
Larry Steinberg of CBRE Inc. arranged the transaction.
The building also is home to Blick Art Materials and Lucky Strike Bowling; all three tenants have long-term leases.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1SCjK81.
Renovated Retail on East Chestnut
The first major renovation next to the new Brickstone development 1112-1128 Chestnut Street has opened at 1106 Chestnut Street, former home of City Blue.
Lapstone & Hammer is a 4,000-square-foot, high-end men’s shop focusing on sneakers that aren’t usually available in mainstream shops. The owner also will be providing pop-up space for other retailers on the store’s mezzanine.
To see photos of the renovated space and to read about the building’s history, please go to bit.ly/1QjWqYN.
To read an article in The Philly Voice about the opening, please go to bit.ly/1IJpXfr.
Service Sector Maintains Strength
Nonmanufacturing business activity in the region improved in May, according to firms responding to this month's Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, with new orders up for 43.2% of respondents, down for 15.9%, and unchanged for 18.2%.
The number of full-time employees was up for 27.3% of the firms, down for 13.6%, and the same for more than half (56.8%).
Looking ahead six months, more than three-quarters (81.8%) of the firms anticipated improved business activity, while 2.3% expected a downturn and 6.8% foresaw no change.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1BpJsBV [PDF].
SugarHouse Revenue Dips in April
Revenue slipped slightly in April following a robust March at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
In April, the casino took in $24,127,133, compared to $25,461,526 in March. The Commonwealth’s share of taxes in April was $6,447,093, compared to March’s $6,705,518. The City of Philadelphia collected $803,068, compared to $837,862 in March.
To see all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/1KdV9QV.
Ritz-Carlton Has New Majority Owner
Carey Watermark Investors Inc. of New York has purchased a majority interest in the Ritz-Carlton and plans a $21.3 million renovation of the 299-room property, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on May 19. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.
The acquisition is part of a joint venture with Philadelphia Hospitality Partners. The renovation, expected to be completed in 2016, will include upgrades of the rooms, lobby, 26,000-square-foot meeting space, 6,100-square-foot ballroom, corridors, club lounge and other areas, the article noted.
The owners expect to bring in an outside operator to run the hotel's restaurant and lounge following the makeover.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1Ayh3OW.
Arts and Culture News
New Names for Music Walk of Fame
The Philadelphia Music Alliance (PMA) on May 28 announced new honorees to be added to the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame at Broad and Walnut Streets on October 26 during afternoon ceremonies.
The new honorees are The Roots, Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, Cinderella, The Trammps, Andrea McArdle, and WOGL air personality Harvey Holiday.
To read the announcement, please go to philadelphiamusicalliance.org.
PPA Selects Parking App Vendor
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) has selected Pango USA as the contractor for installing and implementing a pay-by-phone parking app that will allow users to download the app or sign up on the web to use the app to pay for parking, PlanPhilly reported on May 21. The system is expected to be in place by late July in Center City and available throughout the city six months later.
Pango will move its corporate office from New York to Philadelphia within 18 months of the contract award, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 26.
To read the PlanPhilly article, please go to bit.ly/1EB6t4T.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1PL5ET2.
To read Pango’s press release, please go to prn.to/1Fb5ER2.
SEPTA to Overhaul Subway Concourse, Buy New Rail Cars
SEPTA plans to spend $535 million in fiscal year 2016 to overhaul its Center City subway concourse, buy new vehicles, replace and repair rail bridges, and upgrade train stations, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 27.
In addition, SEPTA plans to spend up to $154 million for 18 new Regional Rail locomotives that will update service on the Lansdale-Doylestown, Paoli-Thorndale, Trenton, and Wilmington-Newark lines. The purchases will include 13 Cities Sprinter ACS-64 locomotives from Siemans Industry Inc. and five others.
Long-range plans include buying 525 hybrid buses over five years and procuring 45 bi-level railcars for Regional Rail lines.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1KAyQbM.
Closures on I-676 This Week
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) advises that there will be nighttime closures of I-676 this week between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges in Philadelphia for overhead bridge construction, as part of the four-year, $64.8 million project to replace seven structurally deficient bridges over I-676, and make landscaping and streetscape improvements above the expressway.
From 11:00 p.m. Monday, June 1, to 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 2, I-676 East will be closed and detoured. On Tuesday, June 2, through Friday, June 5, I-676 East and West will be closed and detoured from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Crews will work at night to demolish piers, remove walls, and remove fencing from the Family Court pedestrian bridge over I-676. PennDOT’s contractor, Buckley & Company, Inc., also will replace the deteriorating bridges carrying 22nd Street, 21st Street, Benjamin Franklin Parkway/20th Street, 19th Street, 18th Street, and the Free Library pedestrian bridge, with single-span structures.
For more information on the I-676 project, please go to bridgesover676.com.
Philadelphia Ranked 8th in Accessibility to Work
A new report from the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota ranked Philadelphia 8th of the top 50 most populous U.S. metros for ease in reaching work and other valued destinations, PlanPhilly reported on May 22.
The report determined the rankings by using a weighted average of accessibility. Jobs reachable within 10 minutes were weighted most heavily and weights declined as travel time increased up to 60 minutes. The cities that made up the top 10 for accessibility all had a combination of density and fast, frequent transit service, the report noted.
New York City ranked 1st, followed by San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, and Denver.
To read the PlanPhilly article, please go to bit.ly/1LMaVnq.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1KssCaN [PDF].
PATCO Rolls Out Refurbished Cars
On May 28, PATCO cut the ribbon on the first six cars to re-enter service on PATCO's High-Speed Line after extensive rehabilitation of the interiors and operating systems. All 120 cars in PATCO's fleet will be upgraded over the course of the $194 million refurbishment over the next 18 months.
The cars are being rehabilitated by Alstom Transport of Hornell, New York. In addition, there have been significant upgrades to communications and security systems.
To see photos of the new cars and read the article in Newsworks, please go to bit.ly/1Az3W0j.
Telecommuting Outpacing Transit Commuting in
but Not Philadelphia
Working at home, much of it telecommuting, has replaced transit as the principal commuting alternative to the automobile in the United States outside cities with strong transit systems, notes Wendell Cox writing in New Geography. Many of the places where working at home is most popular are technology hubs such as Denver, Austin and San Diego.
Overall, working at home leads transit in 37 of the 52 major metropolitan areas (over 1 million population in 2013), based on information from the U.S. Census' American Community Survey for 2013. But in regions with strong transit systems like New York, Boston, San Francisco and Philadelphia, the numbers are different.
In Philadelphia, 3.99% work at home and 10% take transit to work, creating a 0.40 ratio of work-at-home to transit commuters, compared to the national ratio of 1.25 (excluding New York).
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1cpCztR.
Parks and Open Space News
City Council Passes Rail Park Bill
On May 21, City Council passed 15-0 Bill #150415 that authorizes the City’s Department of Public Property to acquire a 0.80-acre curving, elevated parcel starting at 13th and Noble Streets and stretching southeast to the south side of Callowhill Street, that will become Phase 1 of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park. The land, which is owned by SEPTA, will be leased to the Center City District (CCD) for renovation purposes. Upon completion, the CCD will turn the completed project over to the City of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Art Commission has approved the conceptual design created by Studio| Bryan Hanes and Urban Engineers for the $9.6 million project.
For details about the upcoming CPDC forum and about a fundraiser in support of the Rail Park, please see the item below in Upcoming Events.
To read Bill #150415, please go to bit.ly/1zkPjwS. To review plans for the Reading Viaduct project, please go to centercityphila.org/about/viaduct.php. To view a complete set of renderings, please go to studiobryanhanes.com/work#/viaduct/.
Wednesdays: The Farmers’ Market at Dilworth Park
Every Wednesday throughout the summer and fall, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the Center City District, in collaboration with Farm to City, is offering convenient shopping at the Farmers’ Market at Dilworth Park.
McCann’s Farm of Elk Township, New Jersey, has an array of fresh vegetables, from asparagus to zucchini, plus other seasonal delights including summer strawberries and giant pumpkins in the fall.
PetAl Plants & Flowers of New Jersey stocks a wide variety of houseplants, flowers and vegetable starters; Philly Muffin offers freshly baked breads; and La Divisa Meats offers an array of meats, sausages and hams.
For more information, please visit dilworthpark.org.
Hearing on Bill That Would Increase U & O Tax
Tomorrow, on Tuesday, June 2, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 400, City Council’s Committee of the Whole will hold a public hearing on Bill #150438 that would increase the Use & Occupancy Tax to provide more money for the School District of Philadelphia. The amount of the increase has not been made public, but City Finance Director Rob Dubow has testified that the tax needs to be increased by 85% to generate $105 million in additional revenues for the schools.
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) has noted that the U & O tax was increased by City Council and the Mayor by 20% in 2012 to generate additional funds for city schools and that they have increased taxes by $360 million over the last five city budgets. In addition, in 2014, Council reduced the number of U&O taxpayers to 12,841 by exempting the first $177,000 in income for small businesses, effectively treating them in a non-uniform fashion, while there are almost 90,000 commercial real estate tax payers.
To read Bill #150438, please go to bit.ly/1FFJx8J.
May Primary Election: Results and Commentary
In the May 7 primary, former councilman Jim Kenney received 55.83%, or 129,113 votes, which will cast him against Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murphy Bailey in November.
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson won the Second District contested race; and newcomers Alan Domb and Helen Gym displaced two sitting council-at-large members, Ed Neilson and W. Wilson Goode, Jr.
Voters also gave non-binding approval to four ballot questions: to abolish the School Reform Commission; to create a Commission for Women; to require language-access programs; and create an independent Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten.
In The Philadelphia Citizen, Jeremy Nowak analyzes the primary and Kenney’s resounding victory, noting the city’s changing demographics and the need to create broad coalitions in order to succeed.
To read the Nowak article, “When Racial Math No Longer Adds Up,” please go to bit.ly/1Q8T4aY.
To view the Committee of Seventy’s primary results, please go to bit.ly/1lDxTOR.
To read a pre-primary interview with Kenney in PlanPhilly, where the candidate expresses his views on city planning issues, please go to bit.ly/1cljcSC.
Sidewalk Café Licenses Generate Income for City
The City of Philadelphia has generated $227,599 over the last five years from sidewalk café licenses, according to the Philadelphia Office of the Controller’s April economic report. Since 2011, the city has averaged $45,500 annually from these licenses, the report noted.
There are 369 cafés animating the sidewalks during the day and evening hours between South Street and Vine Street, river to river, according to the CCD/CPDC’s report, Outdoor Sidewalk Seating in Center City. To read the report, please go to centercityphila.org/docs/CCR14_cafe.pdf [PDF].
In addition to information on sidewalk café fees, the Controller’s report indicated that tax revenues for the City of Philadelphia’s General Fund during the month was $476 million, an approximately 7% increase over the same period last year.
To read the Controller’s report, please go to bit.ly/1EFw1Oj.
CPDC Membership Meeting
You are cordially invited to attend the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation's Membership Meeting on Tuesday, June 9, at 4:00 p.m. at the Union League, Lincoln Hall, 140 South Broad Street.
The topic will be “Transforming the Reading Viaduct: Lessons from NYC’s High Line Park,” featuring speakers Adam Ganser, Vice President, Planning and Design, Friends of the High Line; Michael Garden, Friends of the Rail Park, Philadelphia; and Paul R. Levy, Executive Director, Central Philadelphia Development Corporation.
Lower Manhattan's High Line transformed not only a defunct rail line, but an entire neighborhood in New York City. Built in phases over the last decade, the High Line has prompted new investment in housing, retail and cultural facilities. With the completion of construction documents for Phase 1 by Studio| Bryan Hanes and Urban Engineers, what is similar and what will be different about Philadelphia's planned Rail Park?
CPDC members are encouraged to invite both young professionals and other members of their firms to attend this meeting. Please RSVP no later than noon on Thursday, June 4, to Carol Raffa at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.440.5500.
Learn How You Can Support the Rail Park
On Thursday, June 11, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, 10 Avenue of the Arts, Gilbane Building Company will host a fundraiser to support the creation of a park along the SEPTA-owned portion of the elevated Reading Viaduct. Learn how your tax-deductible contributions can support the construction and maintenance of Phase 1 of the park.
Guest speakers will be Councilman Mark Squilla; Paul R. Levy, President and CEO, Center City District; and Michael Garden, board member of Friends of the Rail Park.
Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails will be served.
To RSVP, please go to svy.mk/1IG5hU6.
Center City District Sips Returns This Wednesday
Center City District Sips begins this Wednesday, June 3, and continues through September 2, at more than 80 official participating bars and restaurants in Center City. From 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. each Wednesday, participating establishments will offer $5 cocktails, $4 wine, $3 beers and half-priced appetizers.
This year Rosa Blanca Café in Dilworth Park will join in the festivities, offering outdoor seating and views of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the 11,160-square-foot fountain, grassy lawn, trees and flowers! Center City District Sips is sponsored by 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey.
For complete information and a list of participating bars and restaurants, please go to centercityphila.org/life/Sips.php.
Kahn Memorial Award and Talk
Join the Philadelphia Center for Architecture for its 30th Louis I. Kahn Memorial Award and Talk honoring Lord Norman Foster, architect of Philadelphia's forthcoming Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, on Tuesday, June 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 3260 South Street. A portion of proceeds from this annual event supports the Charter High School for Architecture and Design, a legacy project of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
To purchase tickets, please go to bit.ly/1AyDt2x.
Welcome America! Celebration Begins June 27
Wawa Welcome America! begins June 27 and continues through July 4. Activities include free admission to the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia History Museum, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and the National Constitution Center, 6abc reported on May 26.
As part of the festivities on Tuesday, June 30, at 8:30 p.m., Philly @ The Movies will present a free screening of the newly adapted version of Annie at Dilworth Park.
On July 4, the Independence Day Parade will begin at 11:00 a.m. in front of Independence Hall and will finish at Front and Chestnut Streets.
That evening at 7:00 p.m., rhythm-and-blues singer Miguel, country star Jennifer Nettles, and hometown heroes The Roots will headline the Philly 4th of July Jam and Grand Finale Fireworks.
For complete information on the weeklong Wawa Welcome America! celebration, please go to 6abc.cm/1cZKoqH.