Office Sector News
Firms Moving to Center City
Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld, based in Conshohocken, has moved its Center City operations from 3,700 square feet (sf) at 1700 Market Street to a 7,800-sf space at Two Logan Square to accommodate increasing demand, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on March 31.
The firm opened its satellite at 1700 Market on a temporary basis in 2014 to “test the waters” in Center City, but quickly outgrew the space, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1VW0kxh.
GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., a geotechnical consulting firm based in Norwood, Massachusetts, is moving its Philadelphia-area operations, currently in Fort Washington, to 1515 Market Street, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on March 25.
The company is leasing 4,600 square feet of space for its 10-member staff that is anticipated to grow. The move is being made to bring the staff closer to the broader business community, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1VTYHQC.
In May, Enclara Pharmacia, which provides hospice pharmacy services, will move approximately 100 jobs from West Deptford to EcelleRx’s 60,000-square-foot headquarters at Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Cherry Street, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on March 24. Enclara Pharmacia and a private equity firm acquired ExcelleRx in 2014.
With the additional 100 employees, Enclara will have about 300 workers in Center City. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/25nMk3y.
Start-Up Tax Credits Expanded to Old City
The University City Keystone Innovation Zone has been expanded in Center City east of Seventh Street to Front Street, between Market and Walnut Streets, and then north to include all of Old City, to enable start-ups within this zone to use or sell their tax credits to investors, Technical.ly Philly reported on March 23.
The program gives tax credits of up to $100,000 a year to qualified firms less than eight years old and was extended to Old City to help reduce the number of firms leaving the neighborhood as they grow. The Zone previously had been expanded to include the Thomas Jefferson University campus and neighborhoods around City Hall and Rittenhouse Square.
To read the article with a map of the expanded zone, please go to bit.ly/1RXgS8p.
Dreamit Chooses 25 New Startups
Dreamit, the startup business accelerator, on March 24 accepted 25 companies into its 2016 cohort, choosing from nearly 1,000 companies worldwide that applied, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
Among the 25 were two Center City startups: DNAsimple, an online DNA bank for researchers to access DNA samples from people all over the world; and CampusESP, which helps colleges and universities leverage parent and family involvement to improve student success.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1q2UYEG.
Brickstone Expands Development on 1100 Block of Chestnut
Brickstone Companies is expanding its development at 1112-1128 Chestnut Street into1108-1110 Chestnut Street by adding a two-story restaurant, shopping and four floors of offices plus ground-floor retail, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on March 21. Almost the entire south side of this long-lagging street will now be animated by a Target store, an expanded Pennsylvania Fine Wine & Good Spirits, and 112 residential rental units.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1RiUvEM.
In other news on the block, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals has purchased 1100 Chestnut Street, the building that houses Milkboy restaurant, for $2.1 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on March 30.
The building benefits from the 2014 change in zoning that allows taller buildings and denser development in the area, the article noted. Jefferson has not announced plans for the building.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1X0pN75.
PREIT Divesting Its Suburban Malls
Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) has sold four suburban malls in three states including Pennsylvania, for $92.4 million, bringing its total mall sales to 13 in about three years, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on March 30.
PREIT is a partner in the $325 million redevelopment of The Gallery at Market East and indicated the company wants to concentrate on holdings best able to turn consistent profits and weather economic downturns, the article noted.
Large real estate firms increasingly are turning to the urban core to invest. Both Liberty Property Trust and Brandywine Realty Trust are selling off suburban office space and focusing on their downtown properties.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1ROYkqU.
Region’s Service Economy Improves in March
Nonmanufacturing business activity in the region grew modestly in March, according to firms responding to the month's Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, with new orders up for 38.7% of respondents, down for 21.7%, and unchanged for 20.5%.
The number of full-time employees was up for 20.7% of the firms, down for 14.6%, and remained the same for more than half (54.7%).
Looking ahead six months, 48.2% of the firms anticipated improved business activity, while 15.3% expected a downturn and 33.3% foresaw no change.
To read the report, please go bit.ly/1RiZqFI.
City Showing Progress
Philadelphia in 2016 is younger, more diverse, and in the midst of a historic, decades-long population upswing - a city undergoing dramatic change after decades of decline, The Philadelphia Inquirer noted in an article about The Pew Charitable Trusts' new report, The State of the City.
But some of the city's most enduring problems - poverty, low educational attainment, and unemployment - remain frustratingly unsolved, the report documents.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1oq7nAQ.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1N1wQqu.
All-Suites Hotel Opens at Airport
Marriott announced that its new 121-suite Residence Inn Philadelphia Airport, owned and managed by Solow, Inc. of Newtown, opened April 1 at 3701 Island Avenue. The all-suite hotel offers studio and one-bedroom suites for stays of five nights or longer.
Each suite also has a fully equipped kitchen with coffeemaker, microwave oven and residential-sized appliances, plus the hotel offers free breakfasts.
To read the announcement, please go to bit.ly/1omrMXs.
Changes at Warwick Hotel
The 301-room Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel at 220 South 17th Street shed the Radisson Blu affiliation on April 1 and became the Warwick Rittenhouse Square, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
Chartres Lodging Group of San Francisco has owned the hotel since 2014 and will continue its ownership. Kokua Hospitality, also owned by Chartres, will manage it. All employees were offered their existing jobs, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/25z4BLh.
Sports Tourneys Fill Hotels
The NCAA basketball and Asics Northeast Qualifier volleyball tournaments over Easter weekend brought almost full occupancy to the city's hotels, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 1.
Approximately 30,000 visitors arrived in the city, resulting in about 23,000 hotel room nights consumed, according to the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, using data from STR, the article noted.
Center City hotel occupancy was capped at 95% occupancy and visitors generated about $40 million in economic impact for the region.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/21Xnz9R.
PA Supreme Court Returns Application for City’s Second Casino
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court returned Stadium L.L.C.'s application to operate a casino hotel in South Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on March 29, requesting that the board take a closer look at the company's ownership structure, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The PGCB’s approval of Stadium's application was appealed by SugarHouse HSP Gaming L.L.P. and by Market East Associates, which also had sought the license Stadium was awarded.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1q2JL6W.
Revenue Increase at SugarHouse in February
Revenue in February rose 3%, the third consecutive month of growth, at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
In February, the casino took in $25,072,941, compared to $24,345,848 in January. The Commonwealth’s share of taxes was $6,522,516, compared to $5,956,118 in January. The City of Philadelphia collected $818,108, compared to $761,101 in January.
To see all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/1I0aqlt.
Arts and Culture News
Steinke to Lead Preservation Alliance
The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia has named Paul Steinke, a board member for almost two decades, as Executive Director, effective in June, replacing Caroline Boyce, who plans to establish a consultancy for nonprofit organizations, PlanPhilly reported on March 22.
Steinke previously served as General Manager of Reading Terminal Market, Finance Director for the Center City District, and Executive Director of the University City District.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1M7kPFk.
Express Trains on Newark/Wilmington Line
Beginning Monday, April 11, SEPTA will offer two weekday afternoon express trains on the Newark/Wilmington Line, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Train 2760, which departs Newark Station at 4:46 p.m. and Train 9294, departing Newark Station at 5:46 p.m., will stop at all stations, except Highland Avenue, before becoming expresses between the Chester Transportation Center and University City. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1UXXF5B.
IVCC Launches New Philly Phlash Season
On March 24, Philly Phlash, managed by the Independence Visitor Center Corporation (IVCC), began its 2016 season providing service to 22 stops between Penn’s Landing and the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park every 15 minutes, including Reading Terminal Market, Pennsylvania Convention Center and The Franklin Institute.
Phlash will operate Friday, Saturday and Sunday through April 30, and will begin daily service on May 1 that continues through September 5. The bus runs every 15 minutes from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Rides are $5 all day or $2 per ride. Children 4 and under, seniors and SEPTA pass holders ride free. Tickets can be purchased at the IVCC and other locations including Sister Cities Park, 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
For complete information, including all 22 stops, please go to vstphl.ly/1saGDzD.
PPA Restoring Stairwells in Historic District
Work to replace stairwells to the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s parking lots beneath Independence Mall will begin in early April, PlanPhilly reported on March 22. The rehabbed stairwells will then be covered with new glass canopies, inspired by those at Dilworth Park, the article noted.
The $1.3 million project will be the first rehabilitation of the stairs and surrounding sidewalks along Fifth Street since the parking lot opened in 1967, and is scheduled to finish construction shortly before July.
To read the article and see a rendering, please go to bit.ly/1Rysnwq.
I-676 to Close for Overhead Bridge Construction
I-676 will be closed in both directions between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges on Monday, April 4, through Wednesday, April 6, from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning for overhead bridge construction, PennDOT announced on March 31.
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. Crews will work this week to set eight steel beams in place for the new structure.
For more information on the I-676 project, please visit bridgesover676.com. For details on detours and further closings, please go to 511pa.com.
DVRPC to Fund Bicycle-Lane Project in City
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission on March 24 awarded $7.6 million in federal Transportation Alternative Program funds to 11 multimodal projects across the region, including $300,000 for a “Protected Bicycle Network” in the City of Philadelphia, PlanPhilly reported.
The project includes flexible delineator posts, signage, and pavement markings for cyclists at designated locations throughout the city.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1TeXnHw.
SEPTA Budget Hearings Scheduled
SEPTA will hold a public hearing on its Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Capital Budget and Fiscal Years 2017-2028 Capital Program in the SEPTA Boardroom at SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street, Mezzanine Level, at 11:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., on Monday, May 2.
The $548.63 million FY17 proposal advances SEPTA's “Rebuilding for the Future” initiative, employing Act 89 capital funds for transportation improvements throughout Pennsylvania.
The full budget proposal, including program and project details, can be viewed or downloaded on SEPTA's website at septa.org/strategic-plan/reports/2017-capital-budget-proposal.pdf [PDF]. To read the long-term strategic plan, please go to septa.org/strategic-plan/reports/capbudget16-proposal.pdf [PDF].
Parks and Open Space News
Tomorrow! Spring Training Returns to Dilworth Park
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, beginning tomorrow, April 5 through May 26, Dilworth Park is hosting a variety of free sports and fitness programs, conducted by experts in the field of personal fitness, thanks to the generous support of the Rothman Institute and Jefferson Health. From yoga to Zumba, this program is designed to get everyone informed and in-shape for the upcoming spring and summer seasons.
For more information, please visit DilworthPark.org.
City to Bring Stakeholders Together to Address Homelessness
The first priority for Mayor Jim Kenney’s new director of Office of Supportive Housing (OSH), Liz Hersh, is to solve the problem of the chronic homeless who live on the street, many of whom are young people, PlanPhilly reported in an interview with Hersh published on March 22. The OSH will focus on the street homeless this spring and bring together the business community, civic associations, and other stakeholders to come up with a 100-day plan.
To read the PlanPhilly interview with Hersh, please go to bit.ly/1pKnfzJ.
New PICA Chairman
Kevin Vaughan, who in 2014 retired from the City of Philadelphia as deputy health commissioner following a 28-year career in City government, has been named chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on March 24.
Vaughan was appointed to the board by Governor Tom Wolf on the recommendation of Mayor Jim Kenney and replaces Suzanne Biemiller.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1VTNBLt.
PCPC Wins National Award
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) has been awarded the 2016 National Planning Excellence Award for Planning Agency, Curbed Philadelphia reported on March 30.
The judges noted PCPC’s work on Registered Community Organizations and its ongoing city comprehensive plan, Philadelphia2035, adding “stakeholders experience first-hand how planning addresses many community concerns, including housing choices; well-maintained libraries; parks and recreation centers; strong transportation system; access to healthy food and vibrant commercial corridors.”
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1ooX6ov.
School District News
SRC Adopts $2.8 Billion Budget
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission on March 24 approved a proposed $2.8 billion budget for the next school year (FY17) that anticipates asking the state, but not City Council, for additional funding, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The District included in the new budget an additional $121 million for charter schools and $35 million for pensions.
The District’s five-year spending plan forecasts deficits beginning with FY18, unless new resources are found, with revenue projected to grow 2.2% over the next five years, while costs are expected to rise by 4.5%, the article noted.
The District will be closing approximately three schools a year to compensate for new schools and charter expansions.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1UqHoat.
School District Adds Profiles of Charters
The Philadelphia School District has created one-page profiles for each of the city’s 83 charter schools, with information on the basics such as school hours, plus racial demographics, attendance, academic offerings, extracurricular activities, and percentages of graduates who enroll in colleges, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Similar information was already available for District schools. The information will be updated each year, and additional details such as academic performance and financial health are to be added, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1RQ1WJ1. To view the profiles, please go philasd.org/charter_schools.
CPDC Meeting on Thursday, April 28
The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation's Membership Meeting will be held Thursday, April 28, at 8:30 a.m., in the Grant Room of the Union League, 140 South Broad Street.
The date has been changed from Tuesday, April 24, so as not to conflict with the Pennsylvania primary.
We will be releasing our annual report, State of Center City, and will be announcing speakers closer to the date.
May Event in Dilworth Park Marks Anniversaries of CCD and CPDC
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of CCD and the 60th anniversary of CPDC, we are planning a special fundraiser at Dilworth Park during the evening of Thursday, May 5, so we can do even more for the downtown! We will highlight the work of both organizations and launch the Center City District Foundation (CCDF), the charitable affiliate of the CCD, to help support the next generation of public space improvements in Center City Philadelphia.
Want to send invitations via email? Here’s a link: centercityphila.org/anniversary/invitation031516.php. To purchase individual tickets or a table for 10, please go to bit.ly/1pzjb5j.
Public Hearing on Legislation to Change Uniformity Clause
The state legislature’s House Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, April 19, at 10:00 a.m., at Temple University Center City, on House Bill 1871, introduced by State Representatives John Taylor (R., Philadelphia) and William Keller (D., Philadelphia). The bill would amend the state Constitution to create the ability for Philadelphia to modify the Uniformity Clause for real estate taxes to enable, but not require, Philadelphia to levy a 15% increment on properties used for business purposes so long as those revenues are used exclusively to reduce wage and business taxes. Supported by a coalition of business, labor, and civic groups, including CPDC and building on the work of the 2003 and 2009 tax commissions, the amendment aims to facilitate more dynamic job growth in Philadelphia.
To read an explanation of how the amendment will work for Philadelphia, please go to bit.ly/1Rf4JWI [PDF].
To read Econsult’s evaluation of the economic impact of the plan, please go to bit.ly/1o1tDRh [PDF].
Historical Marker to Honor Albert M. Greenfield
An unveiling ceremony for a Pennsylvania historical marker honoring Albert M. Greenfield will take place Thursday, April 21, at 10:00 a.m. outside the Philadelphia Building, 1315 Walnut Street. Goldman Properties, owner of the building, will host a reception immediately following the ceremony. Copies of the biography of Greenfield, The Outsider, written by Dan Rottenberg and published by Temple University Press, will be available for sale at the reception.
Free Conference on Urban Tax Policy
Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Drexel University’s School of Economics have teamed up for a second joint conference, “Topics in Urban Tax Policy,” on April 27, from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at the Gerri C. LeBow Hall, 3220 Market Street, Room 220, Grand Meeting Room.
Two expert panels will be featured: Topics in Tax Administration; and Tax Policy and Economic Development.
Speakers will include James R. Hines, Ph.D., L. Hart Wright Collegiate Professor of Law and Co-director of the Law, University of Michigan; Mark Stehr, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Assistant Director, Drexel School of Economics; Marisa G. Waxman, Deputy Commissioner, Policy & Analysis, City of Philadelphia Department of Revenue Manager; Stephen Mullin, President and Principal of Econsult Solutions, Inc.; Daphne Kenyon, Economist and Principal, D.A. Kenyon & Associates, and Visiting Fellow, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; Paul R. Levy, President and CEO, Center City District; and Matthew Knittel, Director, Independent Fiscal Office.
For a complete schedule and to register, please go to bit.ly/22UVcvm. Seating is limited; please RSVP.