Radio Stations� Move Adds Jobs in City
CBS Radio will move two of its stations and 100 employees into the city from Bala Cynwyd, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 15.
Stations WPHT and WOGL will move from 2 Bala Plaza to 400 Market Street by late spring of 2014, WIP will remain at 400 Market Street, and KYW NewsRadio will move from Market Street to 1555 Hamilton Street, where the company�s local TV station, CBS 3, resides.
CBS Radio will have 300 full-time employees and about 150 part-timers in the city, along with CBS 3�s 200 employees, the article noted.
Office Sector News
New Office Building for University City
University Place Associates have proposed a $55-million, six-story office building at 41st and Market Streets, on the Pep Boys site, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported Friday. To be named 3.0 University Place, the 180,000 SF building would be a companion to the developer�s $30-million, 97,000 SF 2.0 University Place at 30 North 41st Street, now almost fully leased, the article noted.
Construction is proposed to start when the building is approaching 50% leased.
Manufacturing Activity Remains Positive
Manufacturing firms responding to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Business Outlook Survey for August indicated that regional manufacturing activity expanded, though not at the vigorous level reported in July.
The number of firms reporting an increase in new orders (27.7%) was slightly higher than those reporting a decrease (22.4%). The number of companies reporting more employees was slightly above (19.2%) those reporting fewer employees (15.8%).
Looking ahead six months, more than half of the firms (52.6%) expected an increase in business, while only 13.8 % expected business to decrease.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/19kpuvX [PDF].
Eds & Meds News
Report: Student Influence Minimal on Philadelphia Poverty Rate
A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau examines the effect of off-campus university students on the formal calculation of poverty rates. While on-campus students are not surveyed for the purposes of calculating poverty, off-campus students have long posed challenges when calculating poverty rates since Census surveys are taken at home addresses.
The report suggests that Philadelphia's 26.8% poverty rate only experiences a 1.4% reduction when off-campus students are excluded from the calculation. This decrease is much lower than other college cities and towns, including Gainesville, Fla. (15.5% reduction in poverty rate), Ann Arbor, Mich. (10.5% reduction) and Berkeley, Calif. (7.3% reduction).
To read the report, please go to 1.usa.gov/18vpsjN. [PDF]
Update on Philadelphia�s School Crisis
The school-funding crisis lurched toward resolution last week as Mayor Michael A. Nutter on Wednesday promised to borrow the $50 million needed to open the schools on September 9. City Council did not back the idea. City Council President Darrell L. Clarke would prefer to have the district transfer vacant schools to the City, which in turn the City could sell, reserving a portion of sales tax revenue to help finance a reduction in the City's unfunded pension liability.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) voted to suspend rules on teacher seniority as the district moved to rehire 1,000 of the 3,800 staff members laid off in June.
The problems within the school district have contributed to negative national press about the city. On Friday, the New York Times published an in-depth article about the school district�s and the City�s finances, co-written by former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Rick Lyman, that compared Philadelphia to bankrupt Detroit.
To read the Times article, please go to nyti.ms/17Sp5gZ.
To read the Newsworks article on the SRC�s decisions, please go to bit.ly/14SBJz1.
New Wine & Spirits Store in Center City
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board on August 14 opened a new 7,700-square-foot Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection state store on August 14 at 2040 Market Street, replacing the store it shuttered the previous day at 1913 Chestnut Street. The new store features a tasting bar and is on the ground floor of a former office building now converted to apartments.
10th Anniversary of Restaurant Week
Center City District Restaurant Week Presented by TD Bank will celebrate its 10th anniversary in September. More than 1 million diners have participated in the biannual event that has brought more than $32 million to the Center City economy. The fall�s edition will take place September 15 � 20 and September 22 � 27.
More than 100 restaurants will offer signature three-course dinners for $35 per person with select restaurants additionally featuring a three-course lunch for $20. Reduced parking rates for guests of Center City District Restaurant Week are available at Philadelphia-area parking facilities for $9.50 or less. A full list of locations and a map are available at centercityphila.org/life/RestaurantWeek.php. Access information on the go at m.centercityphila.org.
Make your reservations now!
Arts & Culture News
Kimmel Center Renovation Nears Completion
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will seek approval for variances from the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for signs that exceed allowable sizes at its new Kimmel Center restaurant and Innovation Studio. Approval from the ZBA is the final hurdle for the project. The largest sign will carry advertising for the Kimmel Center only and was proposed at 1,233 square feet (SF), substantially larger than the 794 SF allowed in the code.
The Center City Residents Association will not oppose the variances. The Philadelphia Art Commission has already approved the entire plan. If the ZBA approves, the Kimmel Center�s latest renovation will be completed sometime this fall.
The renovations include an expansion onto the Spruce Street sidewalk, animating what had been a largely blank wall and adding Jose Garces� new restaurant, Volver, expected to open in early fall.
The design is by KieranTimberlake. To see renderings, please go to centercityphila.org/docs/130813CCRAMtg.pdf [PDF].
New Hotel Will Serve Convention Center
The city�s newest hotel, the Home2Suites by Hilton at 12th and Arch Streets, opened on August 6, across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Construction began in April 2012.
The nine-story hotel has 248 suites and was co-developed by the Wurzak Hotel Group and the Parkway Corporation.
The hotel has an indoor saline pool, gym and laundry room, and will feature three retail tenants on the ground floor. BurgerFi, an upscale burger chain, is expected to open in October, followed by a Panera Bread restaurant, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The third retail tenant hasn�t been announced.
To visit the hotel�s website, please go to bit.ly/15tpiaY.
Cause and Effect of Labor Problems at Convention Center
Tom Ferrick, Interim Director and Editor of the online news organization, AxisPhilly, presents an in-depth analysis of the labor issues at the Philadelphia Convention Center in his regular Publius commentary essay, published on August 10.
Ferrick notes that 80% of the workers in the hotel industry are Philadelphia residents, while 80% of the members of the controversial carpenters union live outside the city.
In the article, Ferrick cites a study that compared the cost of setting up the same show in two different cities: Philadelphia in 2011 and New York in 2009. Both centers have union help and restrictive work rules, but in New York, 203 carpenter foremen were employed, while in Philadelphia, the number was 972.
This year, with 19 large conventions in town � delegates and other attendees will occupy 431,000 nights in local hotels, the article notes, while in 2016, that number will drop to 209,000 � a 52% decline.
To read the essay, please go to bit.ly/15k24lp.
Music and Art Programming on East Market Street
The Market East Arts Series began Friday and will continue through December on Fridays from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 5:00 p.m., on the East Market Street corridor between City Hall and Sixth Street, and will feature live music and dance performances as well as other community activities.
The series is sponsored by Market East Associates, owners and developers of the proposed MARKET8 casino, an urban entertainment and hotel project at 8th and Market Streets, and is in partnership with the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB).
For more information and to view the scheduled entertainment, please go to www.market8philly.com.
Residential Market News
Moderately-Priced Housing Joins the Recovery
The average house value in Philadelphia increased by 3.1% in the second quarter of 2013, according to an updated report issued on August 15 by Kevin C. Gillen of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the neighborhood described by Gillen as Center City/Fairmount, prices were up 3.8%, and in South Philadelphia, which includes parts of extended Center City, house prices were up 5.4%. North Philadelphia, which also includes parts of extended Center City, saw the biggest increase, 7.9%.
Gillen notes that the housing recovery began in higher-priced housing, but from the first to the second quarter of 2013, the bottom fifth of the market saw the average price double in value, from $25 per square foot to $50 per square foot.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/18o9pbJ.
Airline Merger Challenged in Court
Six states, including Pennsylvania, the U.S. Justice Department and the District of Columbia on August 13 filed suit to block the merger of US Airways and American Airlines. The 56-page complaint was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C.
Regulators, creditors, and shareholders had approved the deal, which would have created a combined airline worth $14 billion on paper, the Associated Press reported.
The Justice Department said the merger would diminish competition and drive fares and fees up. If the merger were to proceed, four airlines would control 80% of the U.S. air-travel market, the article noted.
US Airways announced it would fight the suit.
To read the AP article, please go to wapo.st/1a1P8IX.
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and the Philadelphia International Airport support the merger.
�We believe the merger would lead to more nonstop flights to more markets, a critical element of economic prosperity in our region,� the PHLCVB noted in an email to members.
30th Street Station Renovations Continue
The $30 million reconstruction along the west side of 30th Street Station, which includes a redesigned pedestrian plaza and improved traffic and pedestrian flow, is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving, Amtrak announced on August 15.
Meanwhile, construction will begin this month on the first phase of restoring the fa�ade. This phase, paid for by Amtrak, is a $2 million project that includes the creation of a canopy to protect pedestrians while work on the fa�ade is under way. Funding for the actual restoration has not been allocated.
30th Street Station is the third busiest station in the Amtrak system and served more than 4 million passengers in fiscal year 2012, according to the press release.
An article in The Philadelphia Inquirer offers more details about the project: bit.ly/14klRlf.
I-95 Exchange Construction Underway
In their recent newsletter, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia highlighted the impact of I-95/PA Turnpike Interchange in Lower Bucks County.
Construction began on Stage 1 of the $500 million project on July 30 in Bensalem. The work has created some congestion in and around Center City, but the project has allocated funds to alleviate some of the congestion. For travel delays, advisories, and updates, please visit 95revive.com.
To read the April 2000 report, please go to bit.ly/Q6bE8f.
Parks & Open Space News
Schuylkill River Trail Named Among Best in U.S.
USA Today in a July 23 article named the 19 best bicycle trails in the country, with Philadelphia�s Schuylkill River Trail ranked 12th.
The criteria called for trails that gave cyclists direct access to business districts while avoiding city traffic and making few street crossings; trail surfaces that were paved or covered with finely crushed rock; and most importantly, a path that was separate from traffic for most of its length, if not in its entirety.
The 23-mile Schuylkill River Trail is a boon to commuters entering the city from Montgomery County, residents looking for a scenic shortcut through parts of downtown, and recreational cyclists making a weekend escape, the article noted.
Minneapolis� Midtown Greenway, a 5.5-mile bicycle highway through the center of town, was ranked first.
To read the article, please go to usat.ly/15cp5Ku.
PARK(ing) Day Philadelphia Returns
For the sixth year, Philadelphia on Friday, September 20, will participate in the international PARK(ing) Day celebration.
Dozens of interactive parks will appear on city streets as artists, activists, planners, local businesses, and average citizens take over metered parking spots in an effort to promote green and pedestrian-friendly urban spaces.
PARK(ing) Day was founded by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, in 2005 to raise awareness of the need for more urban open space.
To sign up to host your own parking space, and to gather ideas from photos of former participants� installations, visit www.parkingdayphila.org.
HUD Selects PennDesign/OLIN Team
The University of Pennsylvania School of Design along with OLIN have been named one of 10 finalist teams to participate in Rebuild by Design, a multi-stage collaborative effort to rebuild communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy, from New Jersey to Rhode Island, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary and Chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force Shaun Donovan announced on August 9.
The PennDesign/OLIN team was chosen from among 148 applicants worldwide. HUD plans to implement the best solutions from Rebuild by Design using funds made available through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program and private sources led by The Rockefeller Foundation.
The PennDesign/OLIN team includes Dean Marilyn Taylor, Professor John Landis, Landscape Architecture faculty members Ellen Neises and Lucinda Sanders and PennPraxis Director Harris Steinberg. Professor Eugenie Birch is serving as a member of the Rebuild by Design Research Advisory Group.
The team envisions combining technology and living systems�dunes, creeks, wetlands as well as the towns and cities of the shore�in a systemic infrastructure that responds to social settings, political ecosystems, and the water dynamics of the coastal landscape.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/13i1Pgo.
Parking Authority Has New Logo
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) has adopted a new logo that comprises all lowercase blue and red letters in front of the city�s skyline.
The logo is intended to project a friendlier image, as the PPA now includes social media in its customer service.
To see an image of the logo, please go to bit.ly/17LaqUT.
Fresh Ideas for Urban Issues
The Center for an Urban Future and NYU Wagner have published Innovation and the City, II, a follow-up to Part I of the report, issued earlier this summer. Based on interviews with mayors, agency chiefs, policy institutes, corporations, labor unions and philanthropic foundations, the report identifies some of the boldest and most inventive urban policy reforms of the last decade.
Among the ideas developed in the report and successfully attempted by various cities were parking sensors, parent mentors, split-rate property taxes, a social impact program aimed at lowering crime rates and curbing chronic homelessness, an infrastructure trust, and various green initiatives.
The report profiles 25 of these innovations. To read the report, please go to nycfuture.org/pdf/Innovation-and-the-City-Part-II.pdf [PDF].
New Transportation Priorities and Their Impact on Development
The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) will hold a Membership Meeting on Tuesday, September 10, at 4:00 p.m., at the Union League of Philadelphia, 140 South Broad Street, Lincoln Hall.
Presentations will be made by Jerry Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, and Carl Dranoff, President and Founder of Dranoff Properties, about how changing demographics and transportation priorities are affecting real estate developments that have recently been constructed or are in the pipeline.
Millennials own fewer cars than previous generations and prefer public transit, walking, biking or car-sharing. Many empty-nesters are also eager to do without the car. Center City�s residential and commercial development projects are beginning to accommodate these changes as well as other urban lifestyle preferences.
CPDC also will release the results of a comprehensive survey of downtown workers about their transportation habits and preferences.
Business casual attire required.
CPDC members are encouraged to invite both young professionals and other members of their firms to attend this meeting. Please RSVP no later than Tuesday, September 3, to Carol Raffa, email@example.com or 215.440.5500.
1919 Market Street at PCPC on Tuesday
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) on Tuesday, August 20, will consider the variances needed for 1919 Market Street, a 28-story apartment building with retail on the lower two floors. The action item is No. 20722 and the meeting begins at 1:00 p.m. at 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor.
Brandywine Realty Trust is seeking approval for an above-grade parking garage; entrance to the garage on 20th Street; and a minor setback issue, in order to begin construction on the project in late fall.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21.
The developer is striving for Silver LEED certification, and construction will take about 18 months.
Gaming Control Board Hearing on Casino Proposals
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, September 24, at 11:00 a.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 108, to gather evidence from City of Philadelphia administration officials on the six applicants for the remaining Category 2 casino license in Philadelphia.
According to PlanPhilly, the officials will use these criteria in their consideration: economic impact measured in terms of job creation, and revenue; effect on surrounding residents and businesses, including issues related to transportation, infrastructure, public safety and incremental social impact; and the degree to which the proposals� design enhances its surroundings and adds positively to the image of the City.
Interested individuals can submit written comments until September 30. To access the form, please go to gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov/?p=225.
To read the PlanPhilly story, please go to bit.ly/13GM54V.