Office Sector News
Out-of-Town Buyers Dominate Sales
Thus far in 2015, 74% of the office space sold in Center City between the rivers has been purchased by investors based outside the Philadelphia region, such as Shorenstein and Los Angeles-based CBRE Global Investors, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on November 3.
It’s the highest percentage since 2007, when 75% of the inventory was purchased by out-of-town investors. Five major commercial properties are still listed for sale, including 1700 Market Street and The Bourse at Independence Mall.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1HrMSHw.
Four Buildings to Be Sold
MRP Residential is negotiating to purchase four buildings in the historic district; the 12-story 400 Market Street; The Bourse at Independence Mall; Constitution Place at 325 Chestnut Street; and 401 Ranstead Street, a 10-story garage that also houses a movie theater, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 9. The Kaiserman Company put the four buildings on the market in the spring for approximately $110 million, the article noted.
Earlier this year, MRP Residential, in partnership with Cornerstone Real Estate, bought 400 Walnut Street and 1930 Chestnut Street.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1NZZg6v.
RAIT Financial Trust to Return to the CBD
RAIT Financial Trust has signed a lease for 21,000 square feet (SF) at Two Logan Square and will move from the Cira Centre in spring 2016, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 13. Both buildings are owned by Brandywine Realty Trust. The Cira Centre space to be vacated has been fully leased.
RAIT wanted to return to the central business district (CBD) and to house the company on one floor, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to goo.gl/5DxwmM.
Development Flourishing Near Proposed Viaduct Rail Park
Arts and Crafts Holdings, new owners of 990 Spring Garden, an 88-year-old building, is renovating traditional offices into loft-style suites for creative economy businesses and tech firms, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on November 11, in a story about the potential impact of the proposed Viaduct Rail Park.
Phase One of the $9.6 million Viaduct Rail Park stretches from Broad and Noble Streets and connects to the elevated tracks, running southeast over 13th and 12th Streets to Callowhill Street. Currently, townhouses are under construction on Noble Street, across from the proposed Rail Park. The 990 Spring Garden building is adjacent to what will be a later phase of the Rail Park project. CCD has construction documents ready to go out to bid for Phase One of the park, pending the release of state grants that are on hold due to the Commonwealth’s budget impasse.
To read the article about real estate developments, please go to bit.ly/1lmc6CE.
For information about the Rail Park, please go to centercityphila.org/about/viaduct.php.
Brandywine Realty Trust’s New Elevated Park
Brandywine Realty Trust’s Cira Green, a 1.25-acre, publicly accessible urban park built atop a 95-foot-high parking structure on the western banks of the Schuylkill, opened on November 9, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The $13 million park, offering panoramic views of Center City and West Philadelphia, was designed by Erdy McHenry Architecture, LLC; Roofmeadow; and AKF Engineers, and is both a planted “green roof” and water-conserving “blue roof.”
The green roof has 18 trees, shrubs, grasses, vines, a lawn and meadow, and the “blue roof” contains cisterns that accumulate rainfall then direct the water into planted “green roof” areas.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1QpW5Y7. To read the press release, please go to prn.to/1RISpzd.
Eds and Meds News
Drexel Report on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Researchers from the A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment issued a 97-page report to the City of Philadelphia that plots a detailed course for how the city can reduce its emission of greenhouse gases—with the goal of an 80% reduction by 2050, Drexel University announced on November 4.
Among the suggestions are retrofitting hospitals, grocery stores, schools and retail stores with better windows and insulation; drawing electricity from low-carbon sources such as nuclear, wind and solar power; and encouraging the use of electric vehicles, public transportation, walking and cycling.
To read the announcement, please go to bit.ly/1NI4xkP. To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1QGTeKy [PDF].
Residential Market News
Latham Hotel to Become Apartments
Pearl Properties is buying the 14-story Latham Hotel at 17th and Walnut Streets and will convert the building into 144 rental apartments, to be completed by summer 2016, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on November 4.
A restaurant and “financial services” will occupy the first floor, with retail stores on the second floor, and housing beginning on the third floor, the article noted.
The building was constructed in 1907 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1NfPmL2.
New Apartment Development in Northern Liberties
How Properties of Conshohocken has bought 1002-20 North Second Street across the street from the Piazza in Northern Liberties and plans to demolish an existing building and construct 53 apartments and 14,500 square feet of retail space, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 5. The sale price was not disclosed.
Twelve offers were made on the property within a month after the half-acre site came on the market, the article noted. How has filed for a demolition permit and work will begin once it is issued.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1MUNWvb.
Leaving the Suburbs for the Downtown
An article in The New York Times on November 11 showcases the trend of affluent suburbanites buying high-end real estate in the city and highlights Philadelphia’s downtown where sales of homes priced at $1 million or more have set a record this year.
Noting that Center City Philadelphia’s population has increased 16% since 2000 and the price of housing in Center City is $307 per square foot, up from about $200 a decade ago, the article cites One Riverside as one of several high-end Philadelphia condominium projects either recently completed or in progress.
To read the article, please go to goo.gl/h58FeI.
Philadelphia Named World Heritage City
The City of Philadelphia on November 6 was named the first World Heritage City in the United States, formally receiving the designation through a vote taken by the XIII World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in Arequipa, Peru. Independence Hall was a key factor in the designation.
The designation is expected to have a positive effect on tourism, The Philadelphia Inquirer noted. A study commissioned by the City suggested that foreign visitation could increase by 10% to 15%, about 60,000 to 100,000 people annually, with an economic impact of about $150 million per year.
To read the Mayor’s press release, please go to prn.to/1NhNcup. To read The Philadelphia Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1Qqp673.
New Ownership and Name for Omni Hotel
The 150-room Omni Hotel at Fourth and Chestnut Streets will have new management and ownership as of November 19, and will be renamed the Franklin Hotel at Independence Park, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 13.
The hotel is currently owned by Valley Forge Management Company of King of Prussia, and Marriott will be the new owner.
To read the article, please go to goo.gl/a2gLoD.
Philadelphia’s Proposed New Sales Tax Ranks in Top Five in U.S.
Governor Tom Wolf and the state legislature are working on a budget deal that would increase the sales tax from 6.0% to 7.25%, which would raise approximately $2 billion in new revenue, and would increase Philadelphia’s sales tax to 9.25%, putting the city in a tie for third-highest sales tax in the country, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. While Chicago is currently at 9.25%, it will move higher in January to 10.25%.
In a recent post for the Tax Foundation, Jared Walczak compiled a list of sales-tax rates in America’s 50 largest cities. Seattle has the highest at 9.6%, followed by Oakland, 9.5%; Chicago, Memphis, and Nashville, 9.25%; Los Angeles, Long Beach (CA), and New Orleans, 9.0%; and New York, 8.88%.
To read The Philadelphia Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1M7vDPX. To view the sales taxes in America’s 50 largest cities, please go to bit.ly/1SJyeBY.
Diversity Board Named for Proposed Casino
The Cordish Companies, parent firm of Stadium Casino, on November 12 announced the formation of a 16-member diversity oversight board to help Stadium Casino become more inclusive toward minorities as it advances its plan to build the $400 million Live! Hotel and Casino in South Philadelphia, the city’s second casino, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
The company also agreed to minimum wages for employees and working with local universities. To read the list of members of the new board, please go to bit.ly/1NRfzEt.
The City Council Rules Committee is holding a public hearing today, Monday, November 16, at 10:00 A.M., to hear testimony on Bill #150767, which would create changes in the Special Purpose Entertainment District (SP-ENT) zoning regulations needed to build the casino and hotel. To read Bill #150767, please go to bit.ly/1OKQkVh.
U.S. House Passes Transportation Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives on November 5, by a vote of 363 to 64, approved HR 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (the STRR Act), with more than $300 billion in transportation and infrastructure programs for deteriorating roads and bridges, but with no solution for the shortfall in financing for the Federal Highway Trust Fund, The New York Times reported.
The Highway Trust Fund, supported by a federal gas tax, has fallen short by more than $70 billion since 2008, and Congress has compensated with general funds, the article noted.
The House measure must now be reconciled with a Senate version adopted earlier this year.
To read the article, please go to nyti.ms/1GPjfFd. To read HR 3763, please go to 1.usa.gov/1KJmyZj.
Changes to SEPTA’s Route 23
SEPTA’s 13.8-mile Route 23 will be divided into two shorter bus routes on Sunday, November 29, to improve the efficiency of the service, SEPTA announced. The 23 travels north on 11th Street and south on 12th Street. The truncated Route 23 will run between Chestnut Hill and Center City and will end at Walnut Street.
The new Route 45 will begin at Broad Street and Oregon Avenue and end at 11th Street at Noble Street, just north of Callowhill Street.
For complete schedule information, please go to septa.org/schedules/23-45.html.
I-676 Weeknight Closures for Bridge Construction
I-676 will be closed at night in both directions between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges on Monday, November 16, through Thursday, November 19, from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., for overhead bridge construction, PennDOT announced.
The work is part of the four-year, $64.8 million project to replace seven structurally deficient bridges over I-676 between 22nd Street and 18th Street and to make landscaping and streetscape improvements above the expressway.
For more information on the project, please go to bridgesover676.com. For more information on closings and detours, please go to 511PA.com.
Governor Announces Port Initiative
Governor Tom Wolf on November 4 called for the creation of an advisory committee, proposals for job development, and having PennDOT conduct a study to determine best uses for the Port of Philadelphia, with the goal of adding 3,700 jobs there.
Wolf also announced seven new board members to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA), including Gerard H. Sweeney, President, Chief Executive Officer and Trustee of Brandywine Realty Trust, who will serve as chairman. A national search for a new executive director is underway.
A development project is expected to be launched by 2017, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1PqsxsF.
PHLASH Moving to Holiday Schedule on November 28
The Independence Visitor Center Corporation on November 6 announced the holiday schedule for Philadelphia PHLASH, beginning Friday, November 28, and continuing through Wednesday, December 31. New this season is the addition of a special Holiday Evening Loop.
Holiday PHLASH will operate seven days a week and serve 20 locations from Penn’s Landing to the Philadelphia Zoo, arriving at each stop every 15 minutes between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The Holiday Evening Loop, serviced by PHLASH, will operate a 15-stop loop from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven nights a week, and will include a stop at Dilworth Park and the Rothman Institute Ice Rink.
Cost is $5 per person for all-day pass, or $2 per ride, and is free for holders of the TransPass, seniors, and children four and under.
For complete information, please go to ridephillyPHLASH.com.
Parks and Open Space News
Ice Skating and New Amenities Open at Dilworth Park
The Rothman Institute Ice Rink reopened for a second season on Friday, November 13, with the addition of the new Rothman Cabin, a hospitality tent offering Cuban burgers, French fries, hot chocolate, and coffee from Rosa Blanca Café. Skaters can enjoy the convenience of visiting the Rothman Cabin without having to remove their skates.
If you would like to hold business events or parties at the Rothman Cabin, rentals are available. Please contact Sarah K. Anello, Venue Sales Specialist, at 215.440.5507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For complete information on the Rothman Institute Ice Rink, please go to dilworthpark.org/rothmanicerink.
Dilworth Park Finalist in World Competition
KieranTimberlake’s Dilworth Park entry was a finalist in the “New and Old” category at the World Architecture Festival held November 4-6 in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Dilworth Park was the only American finalist in the category.
Judges cited the pavilions, use of glass, scale, and tectonics. “A fantastic project, I can’t imagine the pavilions without City Hall or vice versa,” noted one juror.
To view the finalists, please go to bit.ly/20KHye2.
Art Commission Approves LOVE Park Plan
The Philadelphia Art Commission on November 4 gave final approval to the design for LOVE Park and conceptual approval for the $230,000 Percent for Art project, Chromoscope, an abstract multi-colored mural printed on metal, to be installed on the ceiling of the welcome saucer, PlanPhilly reported. The commission also added a requirement that two drinking fountains be installed at the park.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1GPopRE. To view renderings, please go to bit.ly/1RCQegx.
Mayoral and City Council Election Round-up
Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, who on November 3 easily won election as Philadelphia’s mayor, two days later named his transition team, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Co-chairs of the Transition Committee are state Representative Dwight Evans (D., Philadelphia) and Alba Martinez, former city Human Services Commissioner.
To read the article and see the entire transition team, please go to bit.ly/1RZlXIF.
As expected, Kenney named 26-year veteran First Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross to move into the top job in January, bit.ly/1PoZQO8.
On Friday, Kenney announced four more key appointments for his administration. Michael DiBerardinis, currently Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources, will be Managing Director. Otis Hackney, principal at South Philadelphia High School, will serve as Chief Education Officer. Kenney’s Chief of Staff will be Jane Slusser, who managed his campaign, and Debbie Mahler, who was Councilman Kenney's Chief of Staff for nearly 20 years, was named to the post of Deputy Mayor for Intergovernmental Affairs, bit.ly/1Msx0Xr.
Councilmen Mark Squilla and Kenyatta Johnson were easily re-elected to their seats in the 1st and 2nd Districts, respectively. New at-large Council members are Democrats Derek S. Green, Helen Gym, and Allan Domb and Republican Al Taubenberger. Democrats Blondell Reynolds Brown and William K. Greenlee and Republican David Oh were re-elected to their at-large seats.
To see the entire results of the election, please visit the City Commissioners’ website at bit.ly/1Pnqd76.
Voters Approve Charter Changes, Bond Question
Philadelphia voters approved two changes to the City Charter on Election Day, making permanent the Mayor's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, temporary since its creation in 2008; and creating a Department of Planning and Development that will act as an umbrella for the Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Housing Authority, Art Commission, and Zoning Board of Adjustment, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Voters also approved a city request for a $155.9 million bond issue for capital expenses in five main areas: transit; streets and sanitation; municipal buildings; parks, recreation and museums; and economic and community development.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1MmAJWi.
SRC Authorizes School District to Obtain Loans to Operate
On November 2, the School Reform Commission (SRC) authorized the Philadelphia School District to borrow $250 million and shift $40 million from its capital funds to pay for everyday costs as state budget negotiations continue, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
If the District uses all of the funds, it will cost the District $2.5 million in interest and fees, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1k6RVs6.
Mayor Elect to Hold Town Hall Meetings
Mayor-elect Jim Kenney has announced a series of four Neighborhood Town Hall meetings at various locations throughout the city.
The First Philadelphia Neighborhood Town Hall will be Monday, November 30, at 6:00 p.m., at Central High School, 1700 West Olney Avenue. To register, please go to goo.gl/Gv4Um0.
The second will be at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1, at South Philadelphia High School, 2101 South Broad Street. To register, please go to bit.ly/1NR3VcD.
The third will be Thursday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m., at the Mayfair Community Center, 2990 Saint Vincent Street. To register, please go to bit.ly/1N2wLIc.
The fourth will be Friday, December 4, at 7:30 p.m., at Strawberry Mansion High School, 3133 Ridge Avenue. To register, please go to bit.ly/1kv1IIL.