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June 9, 2014 • Volume 17 • Issue 12 • A bi-weekly email news service

Office Sector News
Curalate Raises $8.6 Million
Visual analytics firm Curalate, one of the new, growing tech firms headquartered in Center City, at 2401 Walnut Street, has 45 employees and offices in New York and Seattle, and has raised $8.6 million from private equity investors, Technical.ly Philly reported on June 6. Curalate now has raised a total of $12.5 million.

Curalate uses an image-recognition technology to scour networks such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr to uncover where, and how frequently, photos of a brand�s products are being shared. It also harvests any commentary accompanying the images to provide retailers with information about their customer base. Its customers include Under Armour, Neiman Marcus, and Urban Outfitters. It now also does analytics for Instagram and Tumblr.

The company will use the funding for hiring, marketing and product development.

To read the Technical.ly Philly article, please go to bit.ly/1tOLpDM.

Development News
Master Plan for 30th Street Station
Skidmore Owings & Merrill will take the lead and work with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors to create a master plan for 30th Street Station, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on May 27.

The Skidmore firm was selected by Amtrak, Drexel University, and Brandywine Realty Trust.

The plan will include improvements for the retail space within the train station and development of air rights above 85 acres of rail yards next to the station.

The plan is expected to take about two years to complete and the process will be overseen by a Coordinating Committee comprised of officials from Amtrak, Drexel University, Brandywine Realty Trust, SEPTA, PennDOT, City of Philadelphia, New Jersey Transit, CSX Corporation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, and the University City District.

Opportunities for public comment and involvement will be announced and advertised.

To read the Business Journal article, please go to bit.ly/1tnVA1L. To read the Drexel University press release, please go to bit.ly/1k1F1ZL.

Hospitality News
Philadelphia Hotels Ranked High in Survey
Hotels in Philadelphia are the best rated among all major destinations in the United States, according to a recent survey conducted by TravelMag.com. The survey compared 30 destinations in the United States based on the customer reviews their hotels received over the past 12 months on the travel site, Expedia.com.

In Philadelphia, 71% of all three-star hotel reviews were positive during the past 12 months, 18% were neutral, and 11% posted a negative review.

Washington, D.C. ranked 6th, Boston was 7th, and New York was 25th.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1kLFhuH.

Residential Market News
Region's House Prices Down, City's Up
The average sale price for a Philadelphia-area home declined by 4.9% during the first quarter of 2014, according to a report released on May 27 by Kevin C. Gillen of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.

However, the volume of homes sold in the 11-county region was 10% higher than the same time last year and the average number of days on market fell to 95 days from 132 days two years ago.

To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1nCq54n.

To view the charts, please go to bit.ly/RBZkAh.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, single-family house prices grew by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2014, and were up 3.5% from one year ago, according to the newly released Econsult Solutions, Inc., report on the first quarter.

There were 2,774 arms-length sales of single-family homes this quarter, down 19.1% from the previous quarter, and down 4.5% from the same quarter a year ago. The declines in sales reflect a national housing market trend of slowed home sales in the quarter, likely due to a combination of higher mortgage rates, bad winter weather, and gradually rising prices.

In the quarter, 27 homes sold for more than $1 million, the report noted.

To read the Econsult report, please go to bit.ly/RZ7naC.

Arts and Culture News
PIFA Dates Set
The Kimmel Center has announced that the next Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) will be April 10 through April 25, 2015.

PIFA is a 15-day festival featuring performances by local and international artists. The Gala at the Kimmel Center will be Wednesday, April 8, 2015; the Public Opening Night will be Friday, April 10, 2015; and the popular Street Fair will be Saturday, April 25.

New Sculpture Installed Along Parkway
New York artist Roxy Paine on May 29 installed a 34-foot-high, 3.5-ton stainless steel sculpture called "Symbiosis" along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 24th Street, as a temporary exhibit in Philadelphia's Museum Without Walls.

The sculpture depicts two trees, a smaller one supporting the upper half of a snapped off trunk of a larger one, and will remain in place for one year, the article noted. Never before publicly exhibited, �Symbiosis� is on temporary loan, courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, and is presented by the Association for Public Art in cooperation with Philadelphia's Department of Parks & Recreation.

The Philadelphia Art Commission voted to approve the installation earlier this year.

To read the KYW article, please go to cbsloc.al/1k57UV0.

Transportation News
I-95 Project Begins Today
A $211.7 million project designed to rebuild 1.5 miles of I-95 will begin today, Monday, June 9, and is expected to be completed in summer 2018, PlanPhilly reported on June 4.

The work beginning today will rebuild the northbound portion of I-95 between the Girard Avenue and Allegheny Avenue interchanges.

The project is a next step in PennDOT�s plans to rebuild the I-95/Girard Avenue Interchange and three miles of I-95, from Race Street to just south of Allegheny Avenue, and to widen the I-95 corridor to four travel lanes in each direction.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1iYfk7i.

SEPTA Begins All-Night Service This Weekend
SEPTA all-night subway service begins Sunday, June 15, at 12:01 a.m. on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Cashiers will be on duty at 16 stations, but at 34 other stations, passengers will pay the train operator.

Uniformed and plainclothes transit police will be at many stations and on all trains, according to the article, and security cameras in all stations and trains will be monitored by police.

The 24-hour service will operate after midnight on Saturday and Sunday mornings, at least until Labor Day.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1tOIqeg.

Transit Riders See Higher Savings With Gas Price Increases
Public transit riders in 16 of the top 20 cities for public transit ridership, including Philadelphia, save more than $10,000 a year and $800 a month due to the recent spike in gas prices, according to American Public Transportation Association�s (APTA) May Transit Savings Report.

The savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle, which includes the May 28 average national gas price ($3.65 per gallon- reported by AAA), and the national unreserved monthly parking rate of $166.26 ( according to the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate Study).

Philadelphia ranked fourth in savings, with a monthly average of $1,012 and an annual savings of $12,140. New York ranked first with an annual savings of $15,041; San Francisco was second with an annual savings of $13,350; and Boston was third with $13,136 in savings.

To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1hBwwoi.

SEPTA Engineers Authorize Strike
SEPTA railroad engineers authorized a strike by a 166-2 vote and could strike as early as June 14, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 4.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents about 220 SEPTA engineers, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which previously authorized a strike, represents about 200 Regional Rail electricians. They are prepared to strike when a 30-day "cooling-off" period ends on June 14.

However, the article noted, President Obama could appoint a Presidential Emergency Board to investigate the labor dispute between SEPTA and the unions, which have been working without a contract since 2010 in the case of the engineers and since 2009 for the electricians.

A strike would be delayed by at least 240 days if Obama appointed this board.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1mTGbUy.

Parks and Open Space News
LOVE Park Elevator Headhouses Design Approved
On June 4, the Philadelphia Art Commission gave final approval for the new LOVE Park Garage headhouses, which will bring garage customers to the surface of the plaza for the first time since the park opened in the 1960s. The underground garage was sold to Interpark, a Chicago-based company that plans to renovate the garage and work in partnership with the City on the design and renovation of LOVE Park. Cope Linder Architects was retained by Interpark to design the elevator headhouses on the surface of the plaza.

Public Education News
Bill to Finance Schools Advances
Philadelphia City Council on June 4 took one step toward resolving a piece of the Philadelphia School District's budget woes, giving preliminary approval to Bill #140451 (bit.ly/1jRReKy), introduced by Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., on behalf of Council President Darrell L. Clarke on May 15. The bill will extend Philadelphia's extra 1% sales tax, which is set to expire on June 30, 2014. For fiscal year 2015 (FY15), the first $120 million collected would be distributed to the School District of Philadelphia and the balance to the City. For FY16, the School District would receive 70% of the tax collected and 30% would go to the City. In FY17, the split would be 60% to the School District and 40% to the City. For FY18 and thereafter, the split would be 50-50. The tax collected for the City would be designated to go toward pension fund payments.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said he needs $440 million just to get to this year's service levels, which he said were inadequate.

The School Reform Commission (SRC) on May 29 refused to pass a 2014-15 budget because SRC Chairman Bill Green said he did not want to adopt a budget that gave anyone the impression that the cuts in it were feasible or acceptable, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The budget presented was $2.4 billion, which would have necessitated at least 800 teacher layoffs, class sizes swelling to up to 41, cuts to special, and alternative education services, and more.

To read The Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1pJaCBN.

Additional funds could come from a bill introduced by Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco on June5. Bill #140512 would let the City borrow additional needed funds and pay back the loan from future sales tax revenue. The ordinance authorizes a Service Agreement between the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID) to issue bonds, notes, or other instruments to finance additional operating funds.

To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/1kEjLd5.

Bill Would Create Referendum on SRC
Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell on June 5 introduced Bill #140514 that would create a ballot referendum calling for the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the governor to abolish the School Reform Commission (SRC) and return local control of Philadelphia�s schools, as proposed by a petition presented to City Council. The referendum would appear on the November 4 ballot.

A petition with 40,000 signatures was delivered to City Council on May 28 calling for a citywide referendum on the matter.

To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/SgClLC.

To read the article from The Philadelphia Inquirer about the petition, please go to bit.ly/1pMqrI1.

Schools Making Cuts Across the Commonwealth
The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Administrators (PASBO) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) surveyed 279 school districts representing 1 million of Pennsylvania�s traditional K-12 school students and found that 23% of those school districts fully eliminated 93 academic programs over the last three years and will eliminate 49 academic programs in FY15, according to their new report, The Fourth Annual PASA-PASBO Report on School District Budgets.

More than one-third of responding districts expected to cut, reduce, or charge a fee for at least 220 extra-curricular and athletic programs next year and 64% have increased class size since 2010-11, with frequent increases in the elementary grades.

In addition, 87% of the school districts in the survey report they have furloughed, left positions vacant, or proposed hiring freezes.

To read the report, please go to bit.ly/SxDVcv.

New State Law Would Establish School Funding Commission
The Pennsylvania General Assembly on June 4 passed HB 1738, introduced by state Representative Bernie O�Neill (R., Bucks County), which establishes a basic education funding commission to review and make recommendations related to basic education funding. The commission is charged with developing a basic education funding formula and identifying factors that may be used to determine the distribution of basic education funding among the school districts in the Commonwealth.

Governor Tom Corbett has until June 15 to sign the bill.

To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/Sd3cbl.

Government News
City Tax Revenue Dips in April
City of Philadelphia tax revenues for April totaled more than $490 million, a 5% decrease over the same month last year, according to the Office of the City Controller�s Financial Forecast & Snapshot.

Wage, earnings, and net profit tax collections for the month totaled $181 million, a 7% increase over the same month last year. Total FY14 revenues for this tax category totaled more than $1.4 billion, a 4% increase over the same period last year.

Monthly sales tax collections in April totaled $19.2 million, a less than 1.0% decrease compared to last April. Yearly collections have totaled $217.5 million, or 3% more over last year�s collections.

The report also noted that the City of Philadelphia's current unemployment rate of 6.8% marks the lowest rate since April 2008.

To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1rDHvBH.

Zoning Changes for Center City Overlay District
Councilman Mark E. Squilla on June 5 introduced Bill #140570 that amends the Center City Overlay District.

The bill provides that there will be no maximum number of dwelling units for lots zoned CMX-2 or CMX-2.5 and the minimum lot area per dwelling unit will be 360 SF.

The bill has other details on zoning for RSA-5 districts.

To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/1pVYvRO.

Bill Asks for Referendum on Aviation Department
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson on June 5 introduced Bill #140518 that would create a referendum on the November 4 ballot asking voters if the City should create a Department of Aviation. The new department would manage the City�s airports and related facilities.

To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/1hlcjTr.

Upcoming Events
Center City's Changing Retail Mix and What the Future Holds
TOMORROW! On Tuesday, June 10, the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation will present "New Center City Demographics: The Upside for Retail Leasing & Development" at the Membership Meeting at the Union League of Philadelphia, Meade Room, 140 South Broad Street.

The program will include a panel discussion with Eddie Gindi, Vice President, Century 21 Department Stores; John Connors, Vice President, Brickstone Realty, Chestnut Street Development; and Larry Steinberg, Senior Vice President, CBRE|FAMECO.

Registration is at 8:00 a.m. and the program begins at 8:30 a.m.

DVRPC Opens Comment Period on Improvement Program
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) has opened a public comment period for its Draft FY 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for Pennsylvania. The public comment period will close at 5:00 p.m. on June 30.

On Thursday, June 26, there will be a public meeting and information session on the Draft TIP between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in the DVRPC Conference Room, 190 North Independence Mall West, 8th Floor.

The public will be able to participate in this meeting remotely via web conferencing. Please register by June 24, by contacting 215-238-2871 or public_affairs@dvrpc.org if you are interested in using this option.

The TIP is the regionally agreed-upon list of priority projects, as required by federal law, and goes through a major update every other year. The TIP document must list all projects that intend to use federal funds, along with non-federally funded projects that are regionally significant. Also included are all other state-funded capital projects. The projects are multimodal and include bicycle, pedestrian, freight-related projects, and innovative air quality projects, as well as the more traditional highway and public transit projects.

Copies of the draft TIP are available in the DVRPC Resource Center; in a number of regional libraries; and at www.dvrpc.org/TIP. The document will also be available at the public meeting, and can be translated into an alternative format or language, if requested. Please contact the Resource Center at 215-238-2809 if you wish to have the document mailed to you.

Written comments and questions may be addressed to:

Plan/TIP/Conformity Comments, c/o DVRPC Public Affairs Office, 190 North Independence Mall West, 8th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Comments may be e-mailed to tip-plan-comments@dvrpc.org or faxed to 215-592-9125. If you need assistance in providing a written comment, please contact the DVRPC Public Affairs office at 215-238-2871 or public_affairs@dvrpc.org.


The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) is a strategic planning, research and advocacy organization whose mission is to strengthen the vitality and competitiveness of Center City Philadelphia as the region's central location for business and innovation and to reinforce Center City as a vibrant 24-hour hub for art and culture, a premier place to live and a dynamic destination for shopping and dining.

Central Philadelphia Development Corporation

T 215.440.5500 � F 215.922.7672


For corrections, suggestions, comments, etc., contact Linda Harris, at 215.440.5546 or lharris@centercityphila.org.

For changes of address or contact name, contact cpdc@centercityphila.org.

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