Office Sector News
Five Below to Move Headquarters
Five Below, Inc. will lease 180,000 square feet of office space and 15,000 square feet of retail space at 701 Market Street and, in 2018, move its headquarters from 1818 Market Street, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on September 26.
With $1.36 million in state financial support for the move, Five Below committed to creating 154 new high-wage, full-time jobs over three years and to retaining 211 existing positions. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2cQwYy6.
International Tax Firm to Open Office in Center City
D&H Global Tax Group, which has offices in Pitman, N.J., and London, will establish its headquarters in 3,500 square feet at 1500 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, where the company is expected to employ 25 people, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 28.
The company has set a goal of doubling the number of employees within five years and has an option to expand its offices if that goal is met, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2dayYnE.
Benjamin’s Desk Leaders Form Brokerage
Jenn Maher, a co-founder of Benjamin’s Desk, a coworking space founded at 1701 Walnut Street and now expanded to two other locations, has teamed up with two executives from the company, Ed O’Brien and Jerre Riggs, to form FirstBase, a commercial real estate brokerage that will focus on helping startups transition from coworking space to independent offices, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 15.
FirstBase also will work with companies that are looking for non-traditional office arrangements, such as temporary extra space, small “offices in a box,” or space for workers to “hotel” away from main offices.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2da1zME.
Cap Rates Forecast: Stable
Cap rates for stabilized AA office buildings in Philadelphia’s central business district (CBD) fell in the first half of 2016 into the 5.50% - 6.25% range, while the Philadelphia suburbs’ remained unchanged in the 6.25% - 6.75% range. The national CBD rate also remained constant at 5.19%, according to CBRE’s Cap Rate Survey, First Half 2016.
CBRE projects that Cap rates will remain stable in the second half of 2016 in both the Philadelphia CBD and the suburbs.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2dFZYK6 [PDF].
CCD Awarded $3.5 Million for Viaduct Rail Park
The Center City District (CCD) on September 30 was awarded a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant of $3.5 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which should enable the CCD to begin construction this fall on the Viaduct Rail Park.
With the RACP grant, the CCD will have nearly all of the needed funds in hand from foundation, state, city and private sources to build Phase I of the new park and will proceed with construction as it continues to raise funds for the remainder of the costs, which will be determined by the final bids from contractors who have competitively bid on this project.
The CCD thanks Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Jim Kenney, State Representative Michael H. O’Brien (D., 175th District, Philadelphia) and the William Penn Foundation for their strong advocacy and support for the project, as well as many other members of Philadelphia’s delegation in Harrisburg and the Friends of the Rail Park.
In order to create the possibility of a construction start in 2016, the CCD began the competitive bid process in July 2016, based on construction documents prepared by the park’s designers, Urban Engineers and Studio|Bryan Hanes, and approved by all relevant departments of the City of Philadelphia. Once a contractor is selected, construction is projected to take 15 to 18 months.
For more information and to see renderings, please go to centercityphila.org/about/viaduct.php.
RACP Grant for The Gallery Makeover
Governor Tom Wolf on September 29 announced the award of a $10 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to the Philadelphia Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which in partnership with the Macerich Company, will redevelop The Gallery into The Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia.
The grant will be used to improve exterior facades that connect the street to public transportation, and interior renovations including the installation of new mechanical systems, escalators and elevators. To read the governor’s announcement, please go to bit.ly/2d1p2dB.
The transformation of The Gallery is projected to cost $325 million, with PREIT and Macerich investing approximately $234.5 million, and the additional $100 million coming from public money, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported, bit.ly/2dwZD0o.
Callowhill Multifamily Development Proposed
Developer Mark Rubin has submitted plans to the Civic Design Review Committee for a multifamily project at Fourth and Callowhill Streets, which includes 454 residential units in two towers, one 27 stories tall and the other 24, designed by Cecil Baker + Partners with landscape architecture by Studio|Bryan Hanes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on September 25.
The project, 4th + Callowhill, also will include 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, an expansive public green space, and 233 parking spaces. The development will create an important link between Old City and Northern Liberties, the article noted.
To read the article and see renderings, please go to bit.ly/2dmLfTR.
ZBA Continues Jewelers’ Row Hearing
The Zoning Board of Adjustment on September 28 began a hearing on Toll Brothers’ proposed project on Jewelers’ Row, focusing on the issue of whether the developer adequately posted signage about plans for the development, PlanPhilly reported. The hearing ran overtime and is to be continued on Wednesday, October 5, at 1:00 p.m. at 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor.
Toll Brothers has proposed a16-story building with 80 residential units and ground-floor commercial space at 702-710 Sansom Street and has indicated a willingness to reproduce retail storefronts similar to current storefronts.
To read the PlanPhilly article, please go to bit.ly/2cQVJMS.
Vancouver Converting Alleyways to Public Gathering Places
Vancouver has converted the first of three alleyways into a public gathering space, brightly painted and furnished with a foosball court, basketball hoop and café patio.
The $200,000 project, titled “More Awesome Now,” keeps the alleys accessible for service purposes such as deliveries, but activates the underused space by making it more attractive and appealing.
Activating all of downtown Vancouver’s 200 alley blocks would increase public pedestrian area by as much as 30%, the article noted. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2dmx70h.
More Travelers from Overseas to Philadelphia
Foreign travel to Philadelphia increased by 3% in 2015, when 638,300 overseas visitors came to the city, up from 620,000 in 2014, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on September 22, based on information provided by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Travel from China grew by 14.7% over 2014, Australia by 11.8%, and India by 5.6%. Britain continues to send the most travelers to the U.S., and increased the number by 4.5%, followed by Germany, China, India, and France.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2cKjpCj.
Independence National Historical Park Hosting More Visitors
As the National Park Service marks its 100th anniversary, Independence National Historical Park, which comprises 25 sites, is enjoying an increase in attendance year over year in each of the months in 2016, except for January, and peaked in June when there was a 53% increase over June 2015, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 29.
From January through August, more than 3.5 million people visited the Park, compared to a total of 4.3 million people in all of 2015.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2cER1Uj.
Eds and Meds News
Philadelphia Named ‘Knowledge Capital’
In a report issued by the Brookings Institution on September 29, the Philadelphia metro area was listed as one of the top 19 “Knowledge Capitals” of the U.S. and Europe, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. The criteria included strong economic output, innovative advances, respected universities, talented graduates, venture capital and global patents.
The other East Coast cities were Hartford, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. Only two European cities were included: Zurich and Stockholm.
To read the article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, please go to bit.ly/2cGPJId. To read the Brookings Institution report, Redefining Global Cities, please go to brook.gs/2ddr3Fw.
Café Cret Adds Beer and Wine, Extends Hours
Café Cret in Cret Park at 16th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, one of four parks managed and programmed by the CCD, on September 26 began offering beer and wine and expanded its hours of operation.
The popular casual dining spot will continue to open at 6:30 a.m. but will stay open until 10:00 p.m., three hours later than the usual closing at 7:00 p.m. Beer and wine will be available beginning at 11:00 a.m., and table service will begin at 5:00 p.m.
Also, the café will have all-new bar counter service and a separate outdoor seating area especially for the over-21 crowd. For more information on Café Cret, please go to cretpark.org.
Arts and Culture News
Knight Foundation Arts Grants
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded a total of $415,000 to 13 Philadelphia arts groups, including $50,000 for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 21.
In addition, the Black Star Film Festival was awarded $50,000 and the Philadelphia Dance Company, $40,000.
To read the article and see the complete list of awardees, please go to bit.ly/2dbCsIG.
Parks and Open Space News
Octoberfest at Dilworth Park
Dilworth Park at City Hall will be transformed with pumpkins and autumn decor, a beer garden, live music, and games for Octoberfest, presented by Saul Ewing, Wednesday, October 12, to Friday, October 14, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Saturday, October 15, noon to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, October 16, noon to 6 p.m. The Saultoberfest Beer Garden will offer a variety of craft ales and autumn-inspired cocktails and will feature live music and DJs. Dilworth Park Café and Air Grille will expand their selections and feature a special German-inspired menu. For more information, please go to dilworthpark.org.
Fall Family Fun Days at Sister Cities Park
Sister Cities Park, at 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, will come alive with family- and pet-friendly activities to celebrate fall during Fall Family Fun Days with Furry Friends presented by TD Bank. Produced by the Center City District, the event will kick off on Saturday, October 8, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and continue October 15 (same hours), and will feature music, games, demonstrations and free hayrides. Logan Square Café will offer fall-themed food and drinks. For more information, please visit sistercitiespark.org.
Donation for LOVE Park’s Welcome Center
Saint-Gobain, a global, building-materials manufacturer with offices in Malvern, will donate $700,000 in cash and construction resources for the reconstruction of LOVE Park’s saucer-shaped Welcome Center, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on September 20.
The $19.7 million renovation of the park, which includes more green space, seating areas, and a new fountain, is expected to be completed in late spring 2017.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2cDuSBn.
SEPTA Key Adds Single-Trip Ticket
SEPTA added another fare option, Quick Trips, to the SEPTA Key system, allowing passengers to pay $2.25 for a single-trip ticket that uses a disposable magnetic strip, PlanPhilly reported on September 27. Passengers can use debit and credit cards to pay for the ticket, or pay in cash. Quick Trips are on sale at kiosks in 18 Market-Frankford and Broad Street line stations. All subway stations will have Quick Trips by October 17. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2dp3nN1.
In other SEPTA news, regular weekday Regional Rail service returns today, Monday, October 3. All lines will operate following the schedule published on June 19, with the exception of the Media/Elwyn Line, which has a new schedule, effective yesterday, Sunday, October 2. For complete information on schedules, please visit bit.ly/2cOkMjC.
Proposal Would Help Relieve Schuylkill Expressway Congestion
State Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards on September 27 offered a package of improvements that PennDOT can implement to ease congestion on the Schuylkill Expressway, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Among the proposals are $2.2 million in signage to adjust speed limits and alert drivers to traffic jams ahead; opening more than six miles of road shoulders to traffic during peak travel times, known as hard-shoulder running, and adding approximately 150 traffic signals at intersections in nine municipalities.
The total cost of the project is not yet determined, but opening the shoulders is estimated at $125 million.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2drW8Iz.
I-676 Detours for Bridge Construction
I-676 will be closed and detoured in both directions between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges today, Monday, October 3, through Thursday, October 6, from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning for overhead bridge construction, PennDOT announced on Thursday.
The overnight operation is part of the four-year, $64.8 million project to replace seven structurally deficient bridges over I-676 between 22nd and 18th Streets and to make landscaping and streetscape improvements above the expressway. Construction began in April 2015 and will finish in fall 2019.
For more information on the I-676 project, please go to bridgesover676.com. For detours and other information, please go to 511PA.com.
Regional Service Economy Shows Growth
The region’s service economy grew at a sluggish pace in September, although employment was stronger, according to firms responding to the Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey, conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and published on September 20, with new orders up for 33.0% of the companies, down for 22.5%, and remaining the same for 20.5%.
The number of full-time employees was up for almost one fourth, 24.8%, down for 5.5%, and remained the same for 61.7%.
Looking ahead six months, almost half, 49.1%, anticipated business conditions to improve, while only 9.3% expected business to worsen, and 31.8% responded they expected no change.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2dpoP8x.
Poverty Rate Fell in 2015
For the first time since the recession began, the poverty rate fell substantially in 2015, with approximately 3.5 million people benefiting from a stronger economy and expanding job market, the New York Times reported on September 25. It was the largest improvement since 1999.
From 2014 to 2015, 2.9 million more jobs were created and many part-time workers increased the number of hours on the job. In addition, wages, adjusted for inflation, climbed.
Pennsylvania is one of 23 states where poverty decreased, declining from 13.6% in 2014 to 13.2% in 2015, a small (0.4 percentage point) but statistically significant decrease. However, Philadelphia’s poverty rate dipped just 0.2 percentage points, from 26% to 25.8%, a statistically meaningless difference (bit.ly/2dekXDY).
To read the New York Times article, please go to nyti.ms/2ddgGkx. To see the U.S. Census state-by-state analysis, please go to bit.ly/2d9gfZ3 [PDF].
PPA Names Interim Directors
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) Board has named Deputy Directors Corrine O'Connor and Rick Dickson interim co-directors of the PPA after Vincent J. Fenerty resigned on September 28 ahead of his expected termination, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The PPA board is expected to meet in executive session this week to develop a formal search process for a new Executive Director.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2deiOIj.
SEPTA Returns to Art Commission for Digital Signs
SEPTA’s digital outdoor signs are first on the agenda for the Philadelphia Art Commission’s Art & Architecture Committee meeting on Wednesday, October 5, at 9:30 a.m., in Room 18029 at 1515 Arch Street.
The Art Commission voted down the proposal in July and asked SEPTA to return with revised ideas, PlanPhilly reported, bit.ly/2dFY0cJ.
DVRPC to Present Regional Vision for 2045
On Tuesday, November 15, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) will present Connections 2045: Achieving the Vision, at The Hub Cira Centre, 2929 Arch Street. A light breakfast will be available at 7:30 a.m., and the program will begin at 8:00 a.m.
With the help of an online survey, DVRPC has identified a regional vision for the future, which it will unveil followed by an interactive workshop to develop long-range goals and strategies for the plan.
To register, please go to bit.ly/2cPgMy6.
CCD Customer Satisfaction Survey
Please Tell Us What You Think
Each year, the Center City District (CCD) surveys its constituents to measure how well it is performing. We would appreciate your taking the time to respond to this survey. It should take no more than a few minutes to complete. Here’s the survey: ccdsurvey.com.