Office Sector News
Stock Exchange Building for Sale
The eight-story, 456,922-square-foot Philadelphia Stock Exchange building at 1900 Market Street is in receivership and has been put up for sale, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 17.
The asking price has not been announced, but the article noted that one estimate was $100 a square foot, or $45 million. The building is 74% occupied. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank is handling the sale and is the court-appointed receiver.
Report: Immigrants Drive Growth of New Businesses in U.S.
Immigrants are twice as likely as native-born Americans to start a business and were responsible for 28% of the U.S. businesses founded in 2011, while they make up only 12.9% of the U.S. population. This is one of the findings of "Open for Business: How Immigrants Are Driving Small Business Creation in the United States," written by Robert W. Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and presented this month by The Partnership for a New American Economy, a group of more than 450 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans.
Immigrant-owned businesses now employ one out of every 10 U.S. workers at privately owned-companies and add more than $775 billion dollars of revenue to the U.S. gross domestic product, the report noted. The report highlights the need to consider immigrants and their positive impact on the economy as the U.S. continues to strive for growth.
To read the entire report, please go to tinyurl.com/cd2lc85 [PDF].
August 'Business Outlook' Slightly Weaker
Manufacturing firms responding to the Business Outlook Survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia continued to report slightly weakening business conditions in August, though the diffusion index, the survey's broadest measure of manufacturing activity, increased to -7.1 from -12.9 in July.
Slightly more firms reported increased prices for their goods (12.8%) than firms reported decreases (10.1%). Employment was relatively stable with 77% of business reporting no change, but with 15.4% indicating they had fewer employees and 6.8% reporting they had more.
In the longer view, 35.3% of firms expected business to improve over the next six months, 22.7% expected things to worsen, while 32.2% expected business to remain stable.
To read the August report, please go to tinyurl.com/craxjar [PDF].
National Cosmetics Discounter Coming to Walnut Street
Ulta Beauty, a discount cosmetics retailer that operates almost 500 stores in 45 states, has signed a long-term lease for three floors of 1619 Walnut Street, formerly occupied on two floors by the restaurant Brasserie Perrier. The beauty retailer plans to create a flagship store in the newly remodeled building, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 17.
Steve O'Malley, principal of Fameco Real Estate, which represented Ulta in the deal, said via email that no date had been set for the opening of the store.
Philly 'Late-Night Capital'
Esquire magazine named Philadelphia "The Late-Night Capital of the United States" in its September issue, now circulating.
Among the restaurants and bars mentioned were these in Center City: Khyber Pass Pub, 56 South Second Street; McGillin's Olde Ale House, 1310 Drury Street; and Good Dog, 224 South 15th Street.
To read the article, please go to tinyurl.com/ctt8k25.
SugarHouse Revenue Dips in July
SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware Riverfront in Northern Liberties saw a slight decline in its revenue in July, taking in $22,140,594 compared to June's $22,308,153. The Commonwealth's share of taxes in July was $6,186,792 compared to June's $6,273,108. The City of Philadelphia collected $751,522 in July compared to June's $761,159.
To see revenue from all casinos, please go to tinyurl.com/bmeunzj.
Arts and Culture News
National Constitution Center Leader Steps Down
David Eisner, CEO of the National Constitution Center, has resigned, effective October 31, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on Friday. Eisner served in the role for three years and will help find his replacement. Chief Operating Officer Vince Stango will serve as interim leader after Eisner leaves. A search for a successor will get under way immediately, the article noted.
Convention Center Board to Explore Privatization
The Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority board has voted to draft a "request for qualifications" (RFQ) that will be issued on August 29 and will seek a company with "a full range of possible operations, maintenance and support services."
The move was characterized as a fact-finding mission and not a commitment to privatizing the Convention Center's management, an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer noted. To read the article, please go to tinyurl.com/8tjyx88.
PCVB Exceeds Booking Goal
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB) announced Friday that it exceeded its Fiscal Year 2012 booking goal by more than 23,000 room nights, for a total of 833,834, for this year and in the future.
Some of the upcoming booked conventions include: the National Urban League 2013; East Coast Volleyball 2013, 2014, 2015; and re-bookings of Rheumatology 2022 and 2028.
Transportation and Infrastructure News
AMTRAK is hosting a meeting this evening, Monday, August 20, in SEPTA's Board Room, 1234 Market Street, Mezzanine Level, on its planning work for the first phase of High-Speed Rail between New York City and Philadelphia with a proposed Market East stop providing 37-minute service to Manhattan. The meeting will be in an informal, open house format from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with presentation boards and design team members available to answer questions. A brief presentation will be given at 5:30 p.m., after which there will be an opportunity to provide comments.
12-Year Transportation Plan Calls for $41.6 Billion in Spending
The State Transportation Commission on August 9 approved an update to Pennsylvania's 12-Year Transportation Program, which takes effect October 1, and anticipates in the first four years spending slightly more than $9 billion for highway and bridge projects; $5.4 billion for public transit; $360 million for aviation; and $204 million for rail-freight systems in-state. The 12-year plan calls for spending a total of $41.6 billion.
The commission consists of 10 appointed citizens and the majority and minority chairpersons of the state House and Senate Transportation committees. The plan now will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for review and approval.
For more information, please go to dot.state.pa.us/TYP/index.htm.
Survey Shows Support for Infrastructure Investment
A Rockefeller Foundation survey reveals overwhelming bipartisan support for federal investment in transportation and infrastructure projects.
The survey showed that 71% of voters think leaders in Washington should seek common ground on legislation related to roads, bridges and transit systems, including 66% of Tea Party supporters and 71% of Republicans. Two out of three voters say that improving the country's
transportation infrastructure is highly important. Nearly half of all voters said that roads are often or totally inadequate and that only some public transportation options exist. Eighty percent of voters agree that federal funding to improve and modernize transportation will boost local economies and create millions of jobs, and view it as critical to keeping the United States as the
world's top economic superpower.
To read a complete summary of the findings, please go to tinyurl.com/7wf294y [PDF].
New Post at SEPTA
Jeffrey Knueppel, formerly SEPTA's chief engineer, has been appointed to the newly created position of deputy general manager, where he will oversee transit operations as well as engineering, maintenance, and construction, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 14.
Knueppel will be in charge of bus, subway, train, and trolley operations, and will launch SEPTA's new "smart-card" fare-collection system, the article noted.
In other SEPTA news, the transportation agency has hired Thomas Nestel III, former Chief of Police of Upper Moreland Township, to serve as SEPTA's Chief of Police, effective today, August 20. He replaces Richard Evans, who recently retired. Nestel also previously served as a member of the Philadelphia Police Department for 22 years, where he rose to position of Staff Inspector. To read the SEPTA announcement, please go to tinyurl.com/9nskzta.
Street Work Scheduled in Center City
The City of Philadelphia's Department of Streets announced on Friday that street-improvement work has been scheduled for Center City beginning today, Monday, August 20, and continuing through Friday, September 28. The resurfacing will extend on various blocks from Second to 18th Streets and from Lombard to Callowhill Streets. To view the specific blocks that will be affected, please go to
Parks and Open Space News
Gift Will Expand Green Space for Schools and More
John and Janet Haas announced on August 6 that they will donate $1 million, through the Otto Haas Charitable Trust, over the next four years to The Trust for Public Land to establish the "Haas Challenge" to accelerate an initiative to create community-designed green play spaces in schoolyards and recreation centers in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.
The gift and matching funds will support Philadelphia's Green 2015 Plan, a City of Philadelphia initiative to add 500 acres of new publicly accessible green space to the city by 2015.
A partnership between The Trust for Public Land, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Water Department was announced May 10 by Mayor Michael A. Nutter. The partnership aims to expand green space for as many as 10 school yards and recreation centers.
To read the press release, please go to tinyurl.com/c6jbstw.
Residential Market News
City Housing Prices Increasing More Than Those in Suburbs
While housing prices throughout the region rebounded in the second quarter of the year, the city continues to outperform the suburbs, in sharp contrast to previous downturns, according to the latest analysis prepared by Kevin Gillen of the Econsult Corporation.
In the second quarter, the typical Philadelphia-area home rose in value by an average of 5.7% on a seasonally- and quality-adjusted basis, but house prices in the city increased an average of 7.6%.
In addition, prices in the city lost only 18% of their peak value of 2007, while the region's suburban homes lost 22% of their value.
During the last significant recession from 1990 to1994, the story was vastly different: the average home in the city depreciated in value by 19%, while the average home in the region fell a mere 3.7%.
Among the top 20 largest U.S. cities, Philadelphia ranks third in having the least price declines since the recession, behind only Dallas and Denver.
The regional inventory of condos listed for sale continue to significantly decline from their peak of just over 4,000 several years ago to 2,738; a 32% decline, the report noted. To read the report, please go to econsult.com/rhi_2012_Q2.htm.
New Zoning Code Goes Into Effect This Week
Philadelphia's new zoning code, the first comprehensive revision to Philadelphia's zoning laws in nearly 50 years, goes into effect on Wednesday, August 22.
An overarching theme is ensuring adequate light, air and street frontage to residences and commercial buildings. Among other goals are reducing the need for zoning variances and standardizing the procedures that community organizations follow as they comment on development in their neighborhoods.
In the new code, the many neighborhood overlays have been consolidated into overlay districts: Center City (CTR); Neighborhood Commercial Area (NCA); Neighborhood Conservation (NCO); and North Central Philadelphia (NCP).
Community organizations must be registered in order to participate in the approval process, and there are specific situations that trigger a Civic Design Review, including any project that includes more than 100,000 new square feet or more than 100 units of living space. The Center City District has been approved as an issue-based Recognized Community Organization (RCO).
The hundreds of uses specified in various zoning classifications have been reduced to 10 general categories created to accommodate general principles of usage, such as residential, commercial and industrial, with subcategories not previously considered such as gyms and the various types of childcare centers.
The new zoning code can be found at bit.ly/Rr4f3b [PDF].
L&I's New Website Offers In-Depth Information
The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) on August 13 in partnership with the City's new Office of Information Technology (OIT) announced a newly designed website for L&I, intended to improve transparency and customer service. The website's interactive features allow users to see the complete history of L&I activities at any address, construction and demolition permits, zoning and use permits and variances, business and rental licenses, code violations, and enforcement actions. The website also identifies City-owned and privately held vacant properties.
To visit the new L&I website, please go to phila.gov/LI.
City Tax Collections Higher in July
City tax collections were generally higher in July compared to a year ago, and General Fund tax collections totaled $153.1 million, an increase of $14.6 million, or 10.6%, compared to July 2011, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.
July 2012 wage and earnings tax increased by $17.9 million, or 15.5%, over last July for a total of $133.2 million.
Real estate transfer tax collected was $12.8 million in July, a 25% increase over July 2011's $10.2 million.
July sales tax collected was $21.0 million, an 8.3% over July 2011's $19.4 million.
To read the entire report, please go to
Parking Authority May Move to Market Street
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) has a tentative agreement to move into the former home of Strawbridge & Clothier at Eighth and Market Streets, where Interstate General Media (IGM) recently moved its offices for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.
The PPA's home currently is at 3101 Market Street. If the deal is finalized, the PPA would move in spring 2013, and occupy the second floor, just below IGM, which takes up the entire third floor.
Monetizing Public Assets Topic of CPDC Meeting
On Tuesday, September 11, at 4:00 p.m., the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation will hold a Membership Meeting, at the Hotel Sofitel, 17th and Sansom Streets.
The topic will be "Monetizing Public Assets & P3 Transactions: What Works, What Doesn't." While long-term leasing of public assets to finance other improvements, relieve debt obligations, or make capital improvements to existing infrastructure is normal in Europe and Australia, American experience is more limited. Hear from two national practitioners who have directly handled transactions about do's and don'ts. Which assets make the most sense to monetize? How to structure the transaction both to achieve revenue objectives and protect the public interest? What are appropriate and inappropriate uses of proceeds? What are the lessons for the Philadelphia region?
Speakers will be:
Dana Levenson, Chief Financial Officer for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, where he also oversees their Real Estate and Asset Development initiatives. Levenson served previously as the City of Chicago's chief financial officer, where he was responsible for the long-term leases of both the Chicago Skyway in 2005 and the Chicago Downtown Parking System in 2006;
Thomas Lanctot, partner in William Blair & Company, a Chicago-based investment banking and asset management firm, where he leads the Infrastructure Investment Banking Group. He played an active role in innovative P3 financial advisory assignments and financing transactions for clients in the public, nonprofit and private sectors;
Joseph McLaughlin, director of Temple University's Center on Regional Politics, will serve as the local respondent.
CPDC members are welcome to extend an invitation to one colleague from their company/organization. When replying, please include the guest's name and title for proper admittance.
A reception will follow the program. Please RSVP no later than Wednesday, September 5, to Carol Raffa, firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.440.5500.
The Hotel Sofitel is generously sponsoring this meeting.
Center City District Fall Restaurant Week
The autumn edition of Center City District Restaurant Week Presented by TD Bank will take place September 30 to October 5 and October 7 to 12. Enjoy three-course meals for $35 in a record-setting 132 restaurants and three-course lunches for just $20 in 48 of these destinations. (Prices do not include tax, alcohol and gratuity.)
The Philadelphia Parking Association and Philadelphia Parking Authority will offer a place for your car at the deep discount of $9 or less at dozens of lots and garages all over Center City.
Find a restaurant, see the menus and make reservations at centercityphila.org/restaurantweek/, or easily access this information on the go on the mobile website m.centercityphila.org. Also, follow our Twitter feed – @PhilaRestWeek.
BIA Will Host 11th Annual Housing Conference
On Wednesday, September 19, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia (BIA) will present "The New Building Paradigm," at its 11th Annual Housing Conference, at The Down Town Club, Sixth and Chestnut Streets. A cocktail reception will follow.
Keynote speaker will be Robert Francis, Ed.D., Vice President, University Facilities, Drexel University, who will talk about the school's master plan and how such institutions can drive neighborhood transformation. The conference also will look at whether changes in city policies and practices have moved Philadelphia into a new development era.
Sessions will include Update on New Zoning, News from City Agencies, State of Housing Economy, State Legislative Update, and Vacant Land Strategies.
Cost is $95 for BIA members and $110 for non-members. To purchase tickets by credit card, please go to tinyurl.com/cqqsfak. To pay by check, please mail this form: tinyurl.com/d4tfl2l [PDF]. Pre-registration ends September 14, and tickets go up $10 after that.
Lighting Conference in September
On Monday, September 24, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Philadelphia will present a one-day conference, "Focus on the Future," at the Philadelphia Loews Hotel, 1200 Market Street. Seminars begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. Keynote speaker for the luncheon, which runs from noon to 1:30 p.m., will be Jim Benya of Benya Lighting Design, West Linn, Oregon, whose topic will be "Daylighting and Daylight Harvesting."
Seminars will focus on LED technology, lighting and health, energy code updates, lighting case studies, and more. For the luncheon featuring the keynote speaker, prices are $60 for members, $65 for non-members, and $20 for students. Prices for the full seminar range from $225 to $265. For more information, please go to illuminatephiladelphia.org. To register, please go to tinyurl.com/btzu926.