State Awards $2.5 Million Grant for East Market
Governor Tom Corbett on September 8 announced the award of a $2.5 million Economic Growth Initiative grant to Philadelphia for the multi-phase redevelopment of the 4.3-acre East Market project, bringing the state’s investment in the project to $10 million. The site is bounded by East Market, Chestnut, 11th and 12th Streets.
The City of Philadelphia has committed $4 million in capital funding for public street, utility and sidewalk improvements in the immediate area surrounding East Market, the governor’s press release noted.
The project, whose first phase is expected to start with the demolition of the Market Street parcel in October, is anticipated to create 286 permanent jobs, 1,198 construction jobs and direct taxes to the Commonwealth estimated at $860,000 annually.
East Market is owned by National Real Estate Advisors, JOSS Realty Partners LLC, Young Capital LLC and SSH Real Estate. The first phase of the project includes a 17-story tower that will have the first two levels dedicated to 160,000 square feet of retail space and the remainder an apartment structure with 322 units. This phase will also involve renovating the 200,000-square-foot Family Court building and preparing that for retail space on the street level and office space above. To view renderings, please go to centercityphila.org/docs/east_market_renderings.pdf [PDF].
To read the governor’s press release, please go to bit.ly/1qQUBti.
Designers Selected for Comcast Interior
Architectural firm Gensler has been selected to design the interiors of the new Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 8.
Gensler will be working along with Foster + Partners, which designed the structure, as well as Daroff Design Inc., the article noted.
The $1.2 billion project at 18th and Arch Streets, which is now underway, is expected to be completed by early 2018. Liberty Property Trust is constructing the building.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/Zg7X88.
Arts and Culture News
WPF Awards $25 Million to Free Library
The William Penn Foundation (WPF) has announced a $25 million grant over three years to help pay for renovations at the Central Branch of the Free Library, plus the renovation and expansion of five neighborhood branches, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on September 11.
Renovations will include demolishing old storage stacks on six levels on the north side of the building and replacing them with three new levels. The first floor of the library will have a new, flexible 8,000-square-foot lobby-like space. One level below will be a center for business-building and career assistance. Below that, compact shelving will replace much of the storage capacity of the six levels of stacks, but in a much more condensed space. Siobhan Reardon, President and Director of the Library will be speaking at tomorrow’s CPDC meeting (see Upcoming Events below).
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1ABHc9K.
Eds and Meds News
New Science Center Building Opens
The University City Science Center officially opened the $115 million, 334,000-square-foot 3737 Science Center at 3737 Market Street, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 12.
The new center is a joint venture between the Science Center and Wexford Science + Technology.
The building is 82% occupied by Penn Medicine University City; Spark Therapeutics, which is a spinoff from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Good Shepherd Penn Partners, which operates the Penn Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine; and the Rose Group, which operates the Corner Bakery Café, the building’s only retail tenant, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/WUyo1j.
CCD Report: 73% Increase in Sidewalk Cafés Since 2010
In 1995, downtown Philadelphia did not have a single outdoor café. Twenty years later, there are 369 cafés animating the sidewalks between South Street and Vine Street, river to river, according to a new report released from the Center City District on September 10. These cafés can accommodate 4,423 people, with 16 sites offering outdoor seating for 40 or more.
The growth of outdoor cafés is a strong indicator of the vibrancy of the downtown as it has evolved into a live-work-play environment that is active 24 hours a day and is a clear sign of Philadelphia’s rebound from the national recession, with a 73% increase in cafés since 2010.
The burgeoning café scene is supported by a large downtown workforce, a thriving hospitality sector, and strong population growth in Greater Center City. The densest clusters thrive where upper-floor uses are a mix of offices, hotel rooms, and residences, typically found south of Market Street, where 86% of the outdoor seating is located.
To download the new report, Outdoor Sidewalk Seating in Center City, please go to centercityphila.org/docs/CCR14_cafe.pdf [PDF].
One-Fourth of CEOS Expect to Hire
A new study by Robert Half finds that 25% of 100 local CFOs who were interviewed by the agency expect their companies to hire for new professional-level positions in the next six months, and 63% plan to maintain current personnel levels, while 9% of respondents will not be hiring, even to fill an open position, and 1% plan to reduce staff levels, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 12.
However, finding qualified candidates is difficult, 74% of the respondents noted. Low unemployment rates for many specialized roles favor job seekers who commonly receive multiple offers, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1m0NdMa.
Philadelphia ranks ninth in the country as a travel destination for leisure and business, according to a report by Resonance Consultancy of Vancouver, Canada, and reported by the Philadelphia Business Journal on September 3.
More than 39 million visitors, 34.4 million of whom were leisure visitors, came to Philadelphia in 2013, and 673,000 were overseas travelers, a 13% increase from 2012. That made the city 13th for overseas travelers, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of National Travel and Tourism.
The Resonance report cited Center City’s “museums of all stripes,” and historic monuments and noted that the city was easy to navigate and was bicycle friendly.
Los Angeles was first for domestic travel, followed by New York, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego and Denver, with Miami in 10th place.
To read the article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, please go to http://bit.ly/1qxQBOB.
To read the Resonance report, please go to bit.ly/1oj8vmV [PDF].
To read the U.S. Department of Commerce’s report, please go to 1.usa.gov/1uzknmg [PDF].
Controller Analyzes City’s Tourism Promotion
The Leisure and Hospitality sector is responsible for 64,000 jobs, $2 billion in economic activity, and $83 million in tax revenues annually, according to a new analysis from the Office of the City Controller released on September 9.
The analysis was conducted to look at the revenues derived from the Hotel Tax to determine if they are being utilized to their maximum efficiency. The 8.5% tax added to every hotel bill brought in about $49 million in 2013. The money is shared by three organizations, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, which receives 58%; Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), 25%; and Visit Philadelphia (VP), 17%.
Of the four major market segments within the hospitality sector – leisure, group/convention, business, and international – only leisure tourism has seen consistent growth in the past two decades.
Both PHLCVB and VP are selling Philadelphia – to two different audiences, with different messages, the report noted. It suggests creating a strategic plan to form one agency that would handle all tourism promotion and marketing to be governed by a consolidated and streamlined Board of Directors. The study says peer cities have consolidated destination marketing into a single organization in recent years with improved results.
To read the report, An Analysis of Philadelphia’s Destination Marketing Infrastructure and Its Role in the Hospitality Sector, please go to bit.ly/1wgnaAW [PDF].
In a September 11 article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, hospitality leaders responded to the controller’s report, suggesting disadvantages in consolidating the two organizations that promote tourism in the city.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1pTTMLi.
Market East Station Has New Name
Market East Station on September 4 officially became Jefferson Station, in a multimillion-dollar deal between SEPTA and Jefferson Health System, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Market East Station opened in November 1984 as part of the underground Center City Commuter Connection and replaced the above-ground Reading Terminal station, now part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the article noted.
Jefferson selected Market East so its patients, referring physicians and future healthcare leaders would find it easier to travel to the Center City campus, according to a press release from SEPTA. Approximately 26,000 customers riding SEPTA's Regional Rail lines use the station every weekday, the release noted.
To read the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, please go to bit.ly/1xPnATC.
To read the SEPTA press release, please go to bit.ly/1ADhBx6.
PATCO Adds Eastbound Rush-Hour Trains
Today, September 15th, PATCO will adjust its train departures from Center City to provide additional seating and relieve crowding on the platforms, especially at 15/16th and Locust and at Eighth and Market stations.
An additional eastbound train from Eighth and Market to Lindenwold will depart at 4:10 p.m.; an additional eastbound train from Eighth and Market to Lindenwold, will depart at 5:11 p.m.
In addition, the 5:01 p.m. and 5:08 p.m. departures from 15/16th and Locust will hold at 9/10th for eight and two minutes, respectively, to allow westbound trains to clear the single-track area on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
To view the online schedules, please go to ridepatco.org.
Parks and Open Space News
Dilworth Park Opens With Three-Day Celebration
Thanks to federal, state, City, SEPTA and CCD capital funding, the all-new Dilworth Park, the city’s new central gathering place, officially opened on September 4 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and three-day celebration. The new park provides new distinctive entrances to SEPTA’s trains and trolleys and makes both the Market Street Line and the subway-surface lines accessible by elevator.
The daylong celebration was programmed by the CCD and presented by Comcast. A day of celebrating office workers followed on Friday, supported by American Express, and a day of catering to families filled Saturday.
The CCD will provide continuous programming at the new Dilworth Park throughout the fall as well as information about Philadelphia’s attractions and cultural and civic events throughout the city.
For a video about the public’s experience on the site, produced by Urban Engineers, please go to urbanengineers.com/urbannews.html.
For photos and information about the park, please visit dilworthpark.org.
Next City stopped by the new park, asked for comments and discovered people love it. To read the brief interviews, please go to nextcity.org/daily/entry/philadelphia-city-hall-plaza-dilworth-park-renovation-design.
Residential Market News
New Condos at Two Liberty Place
The top 10 floors of Two Liberty Place, previously expected to become a luxury hotel, will now be converted into 60 condominiums to be developed by iStar Financial Inc., a New York firm that has title to the undeveloped space, and partner Dranoff Properties, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 12.
The units will go on floors 48 through 57 and will complete the development of the Residences at Two Liberty. A sales office is being set up for the new units, expected to be available next year.
The decision to market the condos was due in part to the comeback of the condo market in Center City, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1wiDGAD.
House Prices Increase Throughout the City
In the second quarter of 2014, both house prices and sales increased throughout the city, only the second time this has happened since 2007, when house prices began to tumble, according to a report released on September 2 by Kevin C. Gillen of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the neighborhood described as Center City/Fairmount, which is smaller than the area that CPDC defines as Center City, house prices increased by 2.4%, while University City’s house prices increased 6.8%, and South Philadelphia’s rose 7.0%, the report noted.
The median house price in Philadelphia rose to $115,000 in the second quarter, up from $110,000 in the first quarter.
There were 3,466 arms-length transactions in the quarter, a 10% increase over the first quarter, and the number of homes listed for sale is currently just under 8,000, up significantly from their nearly 10-year low of just over 6,000 this past winter. Days on Market averaged 67 days, down from 88 days during the past winter.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1tXaMpS [PDF].
To view the charts, please go to bit.ly/1pyh49k [PDF].
Meanwhile, average house prices in the 10-county Philadelphia region increased an average of 4.3%, while in Philadelphia County, the increase was 6.3%, according to Gillen’s regional housing report for the second quarter of 2014.
To read the regional report, please go to bit.ly/1pUrTZl [PDF].
To view the regional charts, please go to bit.ly/1vYdFci [PDF].
City Tax Collections Increase
City of Philadelphia General Fund tax collections totaled $174.5 million in July, an increase of $5 million over the previous July, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA).
Increases in wage and earnings ($9.1 million), sales ($0.7 million), real estate transfer ($0.6 million), and parking ($0.2 million) taxes compared to July 2013 were offset by declines in business income and receipts ($1.2 million), real estate ($0.7 million), and amusement ($0.2 million) taxes.
The net profits tax had negative net receipts in July, with refunds exceeding collections by $1.6 million, compared with positive collections of $0.5 million in July 2013.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1AHbcku [PDF].
City Council Abandons Push to Dismantle SRC
In its first session since summer recess, Philadelphia City Council on September 11 by-passed Bill #140514, introduced on June 5 by Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, that would have asked voters in November if they supported abolishing the School Reform Commission (SRC), The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Blackwell did not believe there were not enough votes to pass the bill, the article noted, and since today (September 15) is the last day to file questions for the November ballot, the bill was effectively killed.
To read The Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1usAcMv.
To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/1oDIDyH.
Council 33 Approves New Contract
Philadelphia’s largest municipal union, AFSCME District Council 33, on September 9, voted to ratify a new contract for its 9,000 members, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The new contract is retroactive to July 1, 2009, is effective through June 30, 2016, and will cost the city an extra $127 million during the next five years.
The contract calls for immediate 3.5% raises and a $2,800 lump-sum payment within 30 days of ratification. Also in July, members will receive another 2.5% raise.
Members will contribute 0.5% more toward their pensions as of January 1, and another 0.5% a year later. New employees will contribute an additional 1% above that, or they can opt for a different plan that is a hybrid of a defined-benefit plan and a 401(k).
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1uwfRFg.
CPDC Meeting Tomorrow
The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) will hold its general membership meeting on Tuesday, September 16, at the Union League, Meade Room, 140 South Broad Street. Registration and breakfast is at 8:00 a.m., with the program to follow at 8:30 a.m.
The subject will be “What’s Next on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.”
In the decade since CPDC produced a master plan, the Parkway has been transformed with new institutions, new parks, and with significant adjacent residential development. As we look forward toward the boulevard’s 100th anniversary, join us for a panel discussion on future developments and plans for a centennial celebration. Panelists will include Gail Harrity, President and COO, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Siobhan Reardon, President and Director, Free Library of Philadelphia; and Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Director of Commerce, City of Philadelphia.
Business casual attire required. No denim.
CPDC members are encouraged to invite both young professionals and other members of their firms to attend this meeting.
Dilworth Park Artist Janet Echelman to Speak at Moore
On Friday, September 19, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Moore College of Art & Design, 1916 Race Street, will present a “Studio Conversation with Janet Echelman,” in Stewart Auditorium. The Studio Conversations series is presented by Graduate Studies at Moore's MFA in Studio Art. At 5:30 p.m., there will be a Graduate Studies Kick-Off Reception.
The CCD is still fundraising for Janet Echelman’s public sculpture for the new Dilworth Park. The art will be embedded in the 11,600-square-foot fountain and will trace above ground in real time the paths of the three transit lines below. Described by the artist as “a living X-ray of the city’s circulatory system,” the work creates moving 4-foot-tall curtains of mist, which glow at night when illuminated by multiple layers of colored light. For a presentation by the artist about the work, please go to bit.ly/1uakbtz.
Admission at the Moore event is free.
For more information , please go to bit.ly/1pWn0O4.
The DesignPhiladelphia Festival, an annual event of the Philadelphia Center for Architecture, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year from October 9 to October 17. The event will showcase the work of over 400 practicing architects, designers, and creative professionals to demonstrate Philadelphia’s reemergence as a 21st century city shaped by design, technology, and collaborative business practices.
There will be more than120 exhibits, workshops, demonstrations, tours, lectures, and events held in a variety of venues across the city. All events are open to the public and a majority are free of charge.
For a complete list of events, please go to 2014.designphiladelphia.org.
GPCC to Hold 214th Annual Meeting
The 214th Annual Meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) will take place Wednesday, October 15, with 7:30 a.m. registration and an 8:00 a.m. program at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Terrace Ballroom, Broad and Cherry Streets.
President and CEO Rob Wonderling will thank outgoing GPCC Chairman of the Board, Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, President of Citizens Bank of PA / NJ / DE and Mid-Atlantic Regional Executive, and welcome incoming Chamber Board Chairman, Denis P. O'Brien, Senior Executive Vice President, Exelon Corporation and CEO, Exelon Utilities, and explore top priorities for the upcoming year.
In addition, Emmy Award-winning anchor and correspondent for ABC News, David Muir, will be the featured speaker.
Cost ranges from $70 for an individual member to $1,400 for a non-member table of 10. Registration ends Tuesday, October 14.
To register, please go to bit.ly/1qP2ZKg.