Office Sector News
Coworking Space Leased in Hale Building
Spaces, a unit of a European shared-office company, has signed a lease for 37,735 square feet in the Hale Building at Chestnut and Juniper Streets, and will occupy floors three through eight, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 7.
The eight-story building with a remarkable historic façade that was long neglected is being redeveloped by an affiliate of Brickstone Realty and will have a restaurant on the first two floors.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2ri3Zyw.
Condo Project Proposed on Walnut Street
Astoban Investments LLC is planning to build a nine-story condominium building at 2110 Walnut Street and will include a five-story overbuild on the adjacent four-story Frank Furness-designed brownstone at 2108 Walnut Street, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 2.
The development, designed by Cecil Baker + Partners, will create nine condominiums and 10 parking spaces along with commercial space on the first floor.
To read the article and see a rendering, please go to bit.ly/2sxDCR7.
NELSON and Cope Linder Merge
The interior design company NELSON announced it has merged operations with architectural firms Cope Linder Architects and KA Architecture of Cleveland, Ohio, effective June 1, and bringing the number of employees in Philadelphia to approximately 125 people.
One of the first projects to be completed under the combined company is the W and Element Hotel, a 51-story, 295-room W Philadelphia and 460-room Element Philadelphia, expected to open in 2018.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2qQL09R.
Residential Market News
JLL: Apartment Market Should Continue Strong
While nearly 2,000 new apartment units are set to deliver in Center City in 2017, JLL remains cautiously optimistic that the market is not headed toward oversupply, though there have been concessions on rent in many new buildings and a delay on construction of many proposed projects, according to the real estate company’s Philadelphia Snapshot of May 29.
Across the 10 largest regions in the U.S., more than 523,000 units of new rental housing are expected to deliver through 2019, putting into perspective the Philadelphia region’s 18,863 units compared to new supply being added in regions such as Dallas and New York City.
To view the Philadelphia Snapshot, please go to bit.ly/2qQx9jX.
Philadelphia Ranked 5th for Walkability
Philadelphia, with a Walk Score of 79.0, has been ranked fifth in the country, behind New York (89); San Francisco (86); Boston (81); and Miami (79.2), the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on June 5. Walk Score is a website owned by Redfin.
Center City West had a Walk Score of 99.0 and a Transit Score of 100; Center City East had a Walk Score of 98.0 and Transit Score of 97.0.
To read the article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, please go to bit.ly/2s8DkUE. To see all the Walk Scores, please go to walkscore.com.
Hotel Demand Is Higher in 2017
During the first quarter of 2017, hotel demand across the U.S. increased by 2.8%, attaining a 61.1% occupancy level, the highest first-quarter rate in the past 30 years and prompting CBRE Hotels to forecast the eighth consecutive year of occupancy growth, according to the company’s May 23 press release.
The supply of available rooms in the U.S. is projected to increase by 2.0%, with the lodging demand forecast to rise by 2.1%, creating a 65.5% occupancy in 2017. CBRE is projecting urban hotel occupancy to be 73.0%.
To read the press release and view the charts, please go to bit.ly/2sylRBr.
Parks and Open Space News
Funding Set for Penn's Landing Cap and Civic Space
Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Jim Kenney, and Janet Haas, Board Chair of the William Penn Foundation (WPF), on Friday announced their respective financial commitments to complete funding for the $225 million project that will reconnect Penn’s Landing to the City, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) reported.
The Commonwealth will commit $100 million, in addition to the $10 million currently appropriated for preliminary engineering and design; the City, $90 million over a five-year period; and the WPF board has approved $15 million. The three partners will work together to raise the remaining $10 million.
The plan calls for a four-acre cap over I-95 and Columbus Boulevard between Walnut and Chestnut Streets; an eight-acre civic space between Walnut and Chestnut; and construction of a two-mile, on-road section of the Delaware River Trail, from Spring Garden Street to Washington Avenue.
Design, permitting and construction documents will be completed by the end of 2019, with construction lasting three years. To read the announcement and view the renderings, please go to bit.ly/2rVbjgA.
Art Commission Approves Plan for Headhouse Square
The Art Commission on June 7 approved the plan for the renovation of Headhouse Square at Second and Lombard Streets, PlanPhilly reported. The plan calls for expanding the pedestrian plaza south from the fountain, traffic-calming and new canopy structures with new lighting at both ends of the plaza.
Construction is expected to begin later this month and to be completed in approximately six months.
To read the article and view the renderings, please go to bit.ly/2sL2W75.
Summer in the City: Dilworth Park
Philadelphia's center stage shines every Wednesday, from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., with PNC presents Live @ Lunch, a showcase of local music. June performances highlight the city’s active music organizations: June 14, Julia Rainer + Special Guests; June 21, Make Music Philly w/ Hurricane Hoss; and June 28, Jakob Kelberman.
For information on all the summer activities in Dilworth Park, please go to dilworthpark.org.
PennDOT Begins Construction Season
Governor Tom Wolf on May 30 announced that PennDOT would begin improvements or solicit bids for $550 million in highway and bridge improvements across the Philadelphia region (District 6) during the 2017 construction season.
Projects that have recently moved into construction include I-95 Betsy Ross Ramps/Adams Avenue Connector in Philadelphia ($81 million) and JFK Boulevard bridge rehabilitations in Philadelphia ($15.9 million).
Projects that are expected to be bid this year include I-95 Section GR4 in Philadelphia (estimated $278 million) and the Chestnut Street bridges in Philadelphia (apparent low bid $103.5 million).
To see a map showing all contracted work or work to be bid in District 6, please go to penndot.gov/district6. To read the Governor’s press release, please go to bit.ly/2qH1a4H.
PHL and PHS Team Up for Design Competition
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) on June 8 partnered in launching a design competition, PHL Image Maker, for 130 acres of natural and planted lands that surround the airport, The Architect’s Newspaper reported.
The goals of the competition are to make the airport a memorable landscape for travelers and enhance the sustainability and resiliency of the land. The RFQ can be downloaded from the PHS website at bit.ly/2rG3I6U. A web-based information session will be held on Wednesday, June 28. All responses to the RFQ must be received by 4:00 p.m. EST, on Friday, July 21.
To read the article in The Architect’s Newspaper, please go to bit.ly/2sI7VFP.
Governor Announces Funding for Safety Projects
Governor Tom Wolf on June 9 announced $6 million in Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) funding for safety projects statewide.
Among the allocations for Philadelphia are: $200,000 to improve approximately 29 miles of historic streets; $300,000 to perform safety audits at 15 intersections around Eakins Oval and to implement low-cost safety improvements; $500,000 to install pedestrian countdown signals at 60 intersections; and $1.2 million to design and construct intersection modifications to help slow traffic and reduce pedestrian crossing time at five or six intersections to be determined.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2s5knlb.
Philly Shipyard Announces Plan to Build Four New Ships
Philly Shipyard in South Philadelphia will build “on spec” up to four new container ships designed to meet current and future market trends for larger-sized containers and faster transit times, and will provide work for 1,200 employees through 2021, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 8.
The shipyard also is working to create a new cargo shipping line to provide transpacific service between the West Coast and Hawaii. Some U.S.-flag container ships now transporting cargoes to Hawaii are old steamships that by 2020 will not meet tighter emissions standards, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2s5N4OD.
Tax Reform Legislation Approved by House Committee
The state House Finance Committee on June 7 unanimously voted out of committee HB 871, a bill that would create an amendment to the state Constitution in order to change the state’s uniformity clause to provide 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. The bill is endorsed by Mayor Jim Kenney and the broad-based, nonpartisan Philadelphia Growth Coalition.
As a next step, the bill will move to the full House, probably within the next few weeks and then approval will be required in the Senate. This is the same initiative approved in the previous session of the legislature. To change the Constitution, an initiative must be approved in two successive sessions.
The bill has enjoyed strong leadership from state Representatives John Taylor (R., Philadelphia) and William F. Keller (D., Philadelphia) in the House. State Senator Anthony H. Williams (D., Philadelphia) has taken the leadership in the Senate with the introduction of SB 41, which is identical to HB 871.
To read HB 871, please go to bit.ly/2rWppAj. To learn more about the Philadelphia Growth Coalition, please go to philadelphiagrowthcoalition.com.
Pension Reform Bill Passed, Sent to Governor
The state House of Representatives on June 8 passed SB 1, introduced by Republican State Senator Jake Corman, which will shift some benefits for future state and public schools employees into 401(k)-style plans, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The vote was 143-53. The bill was passed in the Senate on June 5, by a vote of 40-9.
The goal is to create a system that will relieve taxpayers of the entire liability for funding public-employee pensions, the article noted. Governor Tom Wolf is expected to sign the bill today.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2rUMYre. To read SB 1, please go to bit.ly/2rei7Ux.
State Budget Could Fall Short
State Treasurer Joseph M. Torsella and Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale have notified state legislators that the state may have to borrow as much as $3 billion for operating expenses between this July, when the new fiscal year begins, and next April, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 8.
The House is working on legislation to legalize online gambling, regulate fantasy sports and sports betting, and allow video gaming terminals (VGTs) in bars and other establishments with a liquor license.
Governor Tom Wolf’s $32.3 billion budget plan proposed earlier this year included $150 million in revenues from the expansion of gambling, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2rQEuS1.
PICA: City Expenditures to Outpace Revenues by $65 Million
City of Philadelphia General Fund expenditures are projected to exceed revenues by $65 million in fiscal year 2017 (FY17), according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), referencing the City’s Quarterly City Managers Report (QCMR) for the third quarter, which ended March 31.
The third quarter FY17 General Fund revenues are projected at $4,169.2 million, an increase of $37.5 million from the initial FY17-21 Five-Year Financial Plan. Obligations are projected at $4,233.7 million, an increase of $46.6 million from the Plan.
Cost overruns are largely attributed to a $28.8 million projected increase in employee benefits costs, along with increases in spending in the Fire ($14 million), Sheriff ($5 million), Prisons ($4 million), and Streets ($2 million) Departments.
PICA’s Staff Report notes that General Fund employment has increased by 54 positions since the second quarter, and by 183 positions since the first quarter of the fiscal year.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2qBYTZq [PDF].
In other news from PICA, City of Philadelphia tax collections in April were strong, with the City collecting $196.1 million in wage, earnings, and net profits taxes, 15.2% higher than in the same month last year; $281.6 million in BIRT taxes, 16.4% more than last April’s; and $17.8 million in real estate transfer taxes, 9.9% above the previous April, according to PICA’s Monthly Tax Revenue Update for April.
Preliminary reports show the City has collected $19.2 million (41.5%) through April, of the projected $46.2 million in sweetened beverage tax, the report noted.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2sdFYbt [PDF].
Refurbishing the Billy Penn Statue
The 26.5-ton statue of William Penn atop City Hall is being cleaned and undergoing minor repairs, work that is required every 10 years and takes about four to six weeks, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 1. The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is overseeing the conservation of the statue. To see a photo essay and explanation of the work, please go to bit.ly/2qU5liw.
Bill Allows City to Purchase 275 New Trash Receptacles
Councilman Mark Squilla on behalf of Council President Darrell L. Clarke on June 8 introduced Bill #170593, which authorizes the City to purchase 275 new Bigbelly waste and recycling receptacles.
Green City Solutions Philadelphia LLC and BigBelly Solar, Inc. were selected through a competitive process to provide the Bigbelly Units, cleaning and maintenance, licensing, and to serve as the advertising concessionaire, the bill notes.
To read Bill #170593, please go to bit.ly/2smUDkJ.
June CPDC Membership Meeting
The CPDC Membership Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 27, at 8:30 a.m., in the Grant Room of the Union League, 140 South Broad Street.
A select panel will discuss “The Transformation of Independence Mall into a Mixed-Use Neighborhood.”
Independence Mall has been the epicenter of Philadelphia's historic district and a major anchor for the city’s tourism industry since the 1960s. Independence Hall is the primary reason why Philadelphia was named America's first UNESCO World Heritage City in 2015. But for years, the Mall was surrounded by office buildings and public facilities with little sense of public animation at the sidewalk level.
In 2014, one set of elevated walls that greeted visitors at Sixth and Market Streets was torn down and a landscaped beer garden reinvigorated the barren plaza of the Dow Building. Since then, a critical mass of properties along Washington Square and Independence National Historical Park has exchanged hands and is being repositioned to create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood.
Hear why local and national developers are investing in this area of the downtown, how they plan to create Center City's newest live-work district and how the area can connect with a resurgent Market Street East. Learn, too, about changes and improvements at the Independence Visitor Center that are adding more retail vibrancy and visitor services on the Mall.
Panel members are Bill Glazer, CEO, Keystone Property Group; Charles F. McGrath, Managing Director, MRP Realty; and James J. Cuorato, President and CEO, Independence Visitor Center Corporation. Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the CCD, will moderate the discussion.
Business attire required. No denim, please. CPDC members are encouraged to invite both young professionals and other members of their firms to attend this meeting.
Please RSVP to Romina Gutierrez by Wednesday, June 21, at email@example.com or 215.440.5543.
CCD Sips Arrives for Summer
Center City District and Effen Vodka have partnered for Center City District Sips, the popular weekly happy hour every Wednesday 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. The promotion will continue 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.
DVRPC to Host Climate Adaptation Forum
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) will host a free forum, Waterfront Development in a Changing Climate, on Tuesday, June 20, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon, at 190 North Independence Mall West. Networking and coffee begin at 9:00 a.m. and lunch, from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m., will follow the forum.
A changing climate affects waterfront development. This event will provide those who work on waterfront development with an opportunity to learn about and discuss solutions to the threats that a changing climate brings to development near the water.
Panelists are: Kristin Baja, CFM, Climate & Resilience Planner and Certified Floodplain Manager, City of Baltimore Office of Sustainability; Tom Friese, P.E., Land Development Division Manager, Pennoni; Helen Ignas, Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corporation; Roland Lewis, President and CEO, The Waterfront Alliance, New York City; and Michael Tantala, P.E., Principal, Tantala Associates. The panel will be moderated by DVRPC’s Executive Director, Barry Seymour.
To register, please go to bit.ly/2qP11MF. For questions, please contact Rob Graff at 215.238.2826 or firstname.lastname@example.org.