PREIT to Consolidate Holdings on Market Street
Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) has entered into an agreement to purchase a major portion of the Gallery at Market East from Vornado Realty Trust of Paramus, N.J., in a $60 million deal, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on October 31. The section at 907 Market Street includes Kmart and will allow PREIT to carry out a contiguous transformation of a three-block stretch of Market Street, which contains approximately 1.1 million square feet of retail space. Kmart's lease expires in 2014.
PREIT started acquiring portions of The Gallery in 2003 and is expected to release plans for their proposed renovation shortly.
To read the article, please go to tinyurl.com/cvumyjq.
PPA Moving to Market East
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) has signed a 25-year-lease with five, five-year extensions for new offices at 701 Market Street, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 9.
The lease is with Brickstone and is valued at $47 million for the first 25 years. The agency will relocate from 60,000 square feet at 3101 Market Street to 80,000 square feet in the Lit Brothers building. About 800 of PPA's 1,100 employees will work in the new space, which the PPA expects to occupy in April.
To read the article, please go to http://tinyurl.com/aqz4jma.
Final Approval for Mormon Temple's Design
The Philadelphia Art Commission on November 7 gave final approval to design plans for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' new temple at 17th and Vine Streets, PlanPhilly reported.
The building is being designed by Perkins + Will architects and will have 60,000 square feet of space to be used for education and ceremonial events such as weddings but not regular worship services.
The granite-clad temple is designed with elements of classic architecture and will be surrounded by a landscaped plaza featuring a reflecting pool and gardens open to the public. It is expected to be completed in 2015. To see a rendering of the proposed temple, please go to ldschurchtemples.com/philadelphia/.
Sign Approved for Lit Brothers Building
The Philadelphia Historical Commission on November 9 granted final approval to Brickstone to install a rooftop sign with LED messaging atop the historic Lit Brothers building on the 700 block of Market Street.
From the 1890s until its renovation in the 1980s, the building was crowned with large commercial signs, one of which announced "A Great Store For A Great City."
City Council in 2011 passed legislation that was intended to help create a digital sign district along Market East, in order to spur development and revitalization.
The sign will carry advertising from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., PlanPhilly reported.
Eds and Meds News
Drexel Targets Healthcare for the Underserved
Drexel University College of Medicine has created the Office of Urban Health Equity, Education and Research as part of an ongoing effort to improve access to quality healthcare services for underserved populations, the University announced on November 7. Ana E. Núñez, a professor of medicine and director of the college's women's health education program, will lead the new office.
To read the press release, please go to tinyurl.com/b7lka62.
School District Borrows $300 Million
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) on November 7 unanimously authorized borrowing $300 million to pay operating expenses for the School District of Philadelphia, such as teachers' salaries, school building expenses, and books for the remainder of the school year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
To save money, the District will be closing about 40 schools at the end of the academic year, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to tinyurl.com/cblcrh9.
Whole Foods Store to Relocate
The Whole Foods Market at 2001 Pennsylvania Avenue will relocate to 22nd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, at the site where a Best Western hotel currently resides, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 9. The new expanded store will be part of a mixed-use development, including an underground garage and apartment tower.
2012 Fall Restaurant Week Most Successful Yet
The Fall 2012 Center City District Restaurant Week Presented by TD Bank was the most successful Restaurant Week since the CCD began the biannual event in 2003.
First, the number of participating restaurants increased by 10.9% over last year from 119 to 132. Second, there was a 24.3% increase in the number of diners over last year with 240,845 diners served at participating restaurants between September 30 – October 5 and October 7 – 12. Finally, with prices the same as last year's Restaurant Week – $35 for a three-course dinner and $20 for a three-course lunch – the restaurants took in 25.2% more, $13,492,890.
The Winter 2013 Center City District Restaurant Week will be January 20 – 25 and January 27 – February 1, 2013. Prices will stay the same. You can find a restaurant, see the menus, and make reservations at centercityphila.org/restaurantweek, or easily access this information on the go at the mobile website, m.centercityphila.org. Follow the Twitter feed @PhilaRestWeek.
Spotlight on Milk & Honey Café
Milk & Honey Café, the vendor selected by the Center City District for its cafe/visitor center at Sister Cities Park at 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Logan Square, is featured today in The Philadelphia Inquirer's Business Section. For those of you who work or live near Logan Square, keep the café in mind when thinking about lunch – even if it is too cold for you to run through the fountain. To read the article, please go to tinyurl.com/cblsj5d.
Holiday Shoppers Expect to Spend More This Year
Holiday shoppers in Philadelphia anticipate spending about 10.1% more than they did last year, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 2. In a survey conducted by Deloitte, respondents expected to spend an average of $478 on gifts, up from $434 in 2011. That's in contrast to the national average, which was down 2.3% this year from $395 a year ago to $386.
Also, 47% of national respondents said they would shop online and about 70% said they would use a smartphone to help in their shopping. In addition, 65% of the national respondents said their personal financial situation was the same or better than a year ago.
To read the Philadelphia Business Journal article, which contains Deloitte's proprietary information on local shopping, please go to tinyurl.com/awce2pe.
To read the Deloitte national report, please go to tinyurl.com/cycw2f3 [PDF].
More Casino Proposals
Two more casino projects have gone public with their plans to compete for the second casino license in Philadelphia, in addition to the highly publicized proposal for 400 North Broad Street.
Steve Wynn, chief executive of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is proposing to build a 150,000-square-foot casino and hotel on a 60-acre site on the Delaware River waterfront in Fishtown, not far from SugarHouse Casino, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on November 9. The hotel would have 300 rooms and the casino would house 2,500 slot machines and 100 table games.
Another proposal made by a partnership that includes the owners of the Parx Casino in Bensalem and the Cordish Companies of Baltimore would create a hotel and casino at the current Holiday Inn on Packer Avenue, and would have 2,000 slot machines and 125 table games, the article noted. Two additional proposals are expected for Center City sites.
Reports on the local impact of these proposed casinos were due to the Nutter administration on November 8. Applications to the state Gaming Control Board are due Thursday and under state law, the Gaming Control Board has the primary authority for making site selection.
To read The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sunday article on the various proposals, please go to tinyurl.com/bawdlh5.
Residential Market News
Housing Sales Up, Prices Slip
The number of housing transactions in the third-quarter of 2012 increased over the volume in the second quarter, based on the latest data from the City's Recorder of Deeds as analyzed by Kevin C. Gillen of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and released on November 1.
Third-quarter arms-length sales were up to 3,311, a 7.5% increase over the previous quarter's 3,079, and up almost 9% over the 3,039 in the third quarter of last year.
In the third quarter, 17 homes sold for $1 million or more, above the average of nine per quarter and on par with the average of 15 to 17 such sales each quarter during the pre-2008 housing boom.
Over the last 10 years, despite recession and recent dips in prices, houses in Philadelphia have increased in value 41.6%.
To read the report, please go to tinyurl.com/allgczb [PDF].
To view the charts, please go to tinyurl.com/b3bu6gw [PDF].
Housing Prices More Durable in Urban Neighborhoods
In a reversal of trends from past recessions, walkable urban neighborhoods such as those in Philadelphia have weathered the recent housing crisis better than their car-dependent counterparts in the suburbs and exurbs, according to a new report commissioned by the Congress for the New Urbanism, and produced by University of Pennsylvania economist Kevin C. Gillen.
Gillen documents how neighborhoods with walkable streets in mixed commercial-residential, transit-accessible and socioeconomically diverse communities have retained their value more so than other areas.
Homes located near downtowns and town centers with a balanced mix of residential and commercial dwellings declined significantly less during the recent downturn than the average home for the entire region.
To read the report, The Correlates of House Price Changes With Geography, Density, Design and Use: Evidence From Philadelphia, please go to tinyurl.com/cmm6xfx [PDF].
Parks and Open Space News
Cleaning Up the City's Parks
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society have partnered for a cleanup of 55 parks throughout the city for the Fall Edition of Love Your Park on Saturday, November 17. Last year 1,500 volunteers collected 41 tons of leaves that were composted.
For more information or to sign up, please go to loveyourpark.org/volunteer/.
Four Changes to Home Rule Charter
Philadelphia voters on November 6 approved four amendments to the City's Home Rule Charter.
The first will permit City Council to create an independent rate-making body and establish procedures for setting water and sewer rates, and regulating how those rates are imposed. Currently, the Philadelphia Water Department has the final responsibility for setting and regulating rates and charges for water and sewer services.
The second amendment authorizes City Council to require the Director of Finance to submit cost-benefit analyses for various expenditures in the Mayor's proposed annual budget.
The third gives preference in hiring to the grandchildren of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty, in addition to their children.
The fourth authorizes the City to borrow $123 million for capital expenses such as streets and recreation centers.
For more information on the four changes, please go to the Committee of Seventy's website at seventy.org/Elections_November_2012_Ballot_Questions.aspx. To view the Home Rule Charter, please go to tinyurl.com/bxqgt7k [PDF].
Council Hearing on Bill To Reauthorize Center City District
The City Council Rules Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, December 4, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 400, City Hall, to hear testimony on Bill #120800, which would reauthorize the Center City District's (CCD) operating plan for five years, 2013-2017, to extend the life of the District to 2045 to enable refinancing and additional debt capacity, to reduce charges to residential owner-occupants by 50%, and to expand the CCD's boundaries to include the properties that front on South Broad Street between Pine and Lombard Streets.
The bill was introduced on October 11 by Councilman Mark Squilla on behalf of City Council President Darrell L. Clarke.
Following a public hearing in the summer, only two properties out of more than 1,550 registered any objection to the plan. The plan and budget can be downloaded at centercityphila.org/docs/CCDPlanBudget2013_17.pdf [PDF].
The CCD staff strongly urges property owners and businesses available to testify in favor of the reauthorization to contact Linda Harris at 215.440.5546 to express your interest. To read the bill, please go to tinyurl.com/9n76rzr.
Several other public hearings of import also are on the Council's calendar. These bills can be found at legislation.phila.gov/mattersearch/Index.aspx.
Wednesday, November 14, at 10:00 a.m., the Rules Committee will consider Bill #120775 that would prohibit uses in CMX-2 zoning with the intent of reverting 21 uses to provisions found in the old zoning code;
Wednesday, November 14, at 1:00 p.m., the Committee on Commerce & Economic Development will hear testimony on Bill #120855 that would revise the total amount of all tax credits available in any year for new job creation;
Thursday, November 15, at 2:00 p.m., the Committee on Streets and Services will discuss Bill #120532, which would provide for the establishment of a Complete Streets Policy that would create well-defined traffic rules for bicycles and motor vehicles;
Wednesday, November 28, at 10:00 a.m., the Rules Committee will consider Bill #20430, which includes all revisions to the new Zoning Code's signage regulations.
CPDC General Membership Meeting
The next Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) Membership Meeting will be Tuesday, December 11, from 8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. at the Union League, 140 South Broad Street.
As Philadelphia continues to diversify its office district, retain start-up firms and seeks to develop a major destination retail and entertainment district on East Market Street, what can we learn from New York City? Come hear two dynamic leaders who head organizations similar to the Center City District speak about how they are addressing these challenges and opportunities in their city: Elizabeth Berger, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York; and Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance.
Ms. Berger will focus on efforts to continue to attract and retain office tenants to the Wall Street and World Trade Center area while continuing to diversify land-use through residential and retail development.
Mr. Tompkins will focus on efforts to attract and retain both office and entertainment uses to Times Square, while creating new pedestrian spaces and plazas in the midst of Broadway.
'Real Estate Forecast 2013'
On November 28, from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., the Urban Land Institute - Philadelphia will present Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2013 at the Union League, 140 South Broad Street.
Each attendee will receive a copy of the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2013 report, which provides an outlook on U.S. investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, property sectors, metropolitan areas, and other real estate issues.
In addition, there will be a panel discussing the drivers of real estate demand in 2013. Panel members are: Wilbur "Tom" Simmons, President, Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Regions, Kimco Realty Corporation; Bart Blatstein, President, Tower Investments; George Norcross, III, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Cooper Health System and Cooper University Hospital; and David Adelman, President & CEO, Campus Apartments. The moderator will be Peter D. Linneman, CEO, American Land Fund; ULI Trustee.
For more information or to register, please go to tinyurl.com/9x3j5ho.
Thinkfest Offers Ideas, Insights
Philadelphia magazine and Beneficial Bank are teaming up to present a two-day event, Thinkfest, at The Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 West Rittenhouse Square, spotlighting Philadelphia's brightest minds and ideas, as featured in the November issue of Philadelphia magazine.
On Friday, November 30, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., restaurateur Stephen Starr will lead the Keynote Conversation and VIP Reception.
On Saturday, December 1, the sessions will begin with breakfast and registration at 8:00 a.m., include lunch, and end at 2:00 p.m.
Topics include "What's Next for Center City," featuring Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District; "Philadelphia's Food Scene" with Michael Solomonov, Marcie Turney, Brad Spence, and Aimee Oxley; and "Show Me the Money," with Jeremy Nowak, President of the William Penn Foundation.
Tickets are $50 for Saturday only; $85 for both days. For a complete list of speakers, please go to tinyurl.com/an7bqjd. To register, please go to tinyurl.com/aukv765.