Office Sector News
WeWork Opens First of Three Locations
New York-based WeWork, the international coworking space company, opened the first of three planned Philadelphia locations on June 1, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The 30,000-square-foot (sf), two-story office is in the former Schmidt's Brewery building in Northern Liberties' Piazza development (being rebranded as Schmidt's Commons).
The other two locations, expected to open in the fall, are a 30,000-sf space at 1430 Walnut Street and a 40,000-sf location on the 19th and 20th floors of 1601 Market Street.
WeWork cited Philadelphia’s percolating tech community, an active investment community, and strong support from the city as reasons for opening the three offices. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2165y9W.
But at the same time, following a huge wave of expansion fueled by a $430 million round of funding led by Chinese investors, Bloomberg reports that WeWorks is cutting about 7% of its workforce and is putting in place a temporary freeze on any new hiring.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/25SXhNi.
Wayne Company Opens Satellite Office Downtown
Navigate, a Wayne-based management-consulting firm, is opening a 2,200-square-foot satellite office at 1650 Arch Street, where it will house approximately 30 employees including transfers from its headquarters and new hires, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 6.
The move will enable the company to recruit Center City-based talent, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1TSht6Z.
Post Brothers Close on Two Properties
Post Brothers has completed the $45 million purchase of 1501-1505 Walnut Street and 1520 Chestnut Street from PREIT, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on June 7.
The Walnut Street property has 8,000 square feet (sf) of retail space, 15,000 sf of office space, and is zoned CMX-5, which allows for denser development. The Chestnut Street property is 40,500 sf.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1RWk3GV.
CCP Adding Residential Towers
Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) is planning a pair of 11-story residential towers with a total of 500 units at 15th and Hamilton Streets, as the college seeks to attract international students to the campus, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 7. Wayne-based Radnor Property Group will develop the $130 million project.
Radnor will have a long-term lease for the land and rent a portion of the units to CCP students. The project will include ground-floor retail and underground parking, with the first tower expected to be completed by fall 2018.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1t9r1ne.
Agreement Announced for Condo at Record Price
Developer Tom Scannapieco has an agreement of sale for the penthouse at his 500 Walnut for a Philadelphia record of $17.85 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 3.
The 26-story condominium tower overlooking Independence Square is expected to be completed in spring 2017 and was designed by Cecil Baker + Partners.
The buyer was not disclosed. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1YbCVJe.
Groundbreaking for Cambria Hotel & Suites
Choice Hotels International, Inc. announced on June 8 the groundbreaking at 219-225 South Broad Street for a new Cambria Hotel & Suites, a 222-room, 14-story hotel, designed by DAS Architects, Inc. and constructed by Pearl Properties. Concord Hospitality Enterprises will manage the hotel.
The flagship property will feature a restaurant on the ground floor, meeting space, a mobile business center, pool, fitness center and rooftop area for private events. The hotel is expected to open in 2017.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1UEftPh. To read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s analysis of Choice Hotels’ business plan in the city, please go to bit.ly/25O5Zw4.
Dates Set for Opening of Two Target Stores on Chestnut
A new 19,000-square-foot Target store is scheduled to open July 20 at 1128 Chestnut Street in Brickstone’s new mixed-use development, 1112-1128 Chestnut Street, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 1.
A second Target store of 21,000 square feet over two floors is expected to open at 1900 Chestnut Street on October 5.
Both stores will carry fresh groceries, apparel, home, and tech items. The store at 1128 Chestnut also will include a pharmacy and Starbucks.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1UxxZIU.
Service Economy: Slow, Steady Expansion
Regional business activity in the service economy suggested slow growth in May, 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 36.7% of respondents, down for 13.6%, and unchanged for 39.1%.
The number of full-time employees was up for 24.3% of the firms, down for 13.7%, and remained the same for 60.8%.
Looking ahead six months, slightly more than one-third (34.4%) of the firms anticipated improved business activity, while 8.9% expected a downturn and 53.0% foresaw no change.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1ZBUYad.
Arts and Culture News
Sculptural Grouping at City Hall Will Honor Octavius Catto
The design for a public memorial to honor Octavius V. Catto, who was gunned down after he successfully fought to desegregate the city's streetcars in 1867 and fulfill the mandate of the 15th Amendment, extending the right to vote to African American men, was unveiled at City Hall on Friday, where the sculptor Branly Cadet, who is creating the tribute, was introduced, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. It will be the first public sculpture sited at City Hall since 1923.
The $1.5 million sculptural grouping, A Quest for Parity, should be completed and installed by late this year on City Hall's southern apron, the article noted, and will include a 12-foot bronze statue of Catto, five granite pillars fashioned like upturned streetcars, and a stainless-steel ballot box resting on a broad table.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/25Svgls.
Civil Rights Leader John Lewis to Receive Liberty Medal
U.S. Representative John Lewis (D., Georgia), the 15-term congressman who helped lead the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, will receive this year's Liberty Medal presented by the National Constitution Center, as the Center celebrates the 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 2.
The medal will be awarded at a ceremony on September 19 and carries a $100,000 cash prize. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/25Jj2ix.
In related news, the National Constitution Center tomorrow (Tuesday, June 14) will reopen its Sidney Kimmel Theater, which houses the 360-degree multimedia presentation, Freedom Rising, after a $2 million renovation that included 336 new theater-style seats with additional space for disability seating, new carpets, aisle lighting and a major overhaul of its audio and visual technologies, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on June 9.
Narrated by a live actor, Freedom Rising is a 360-degree theatrical production that tells the story of the U.S. Constitution. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1U9orH3.
Two New Contracts for Nézet-Séguin
The Philadelphia Orchestra has extended the contract of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin through the 2025-26 season, and at the same time, Nézet-Séguin has accepted the position of music director-designate in the 2017-18 season of New York’s Metropolitan Opera and will become its music director in 2020-21, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 2.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1VKqVOm.
ArtPlace Announces Finalists
ArtPlace America on June 7 announced 80 projects that are finalists for grants from the organization’s $10.5 million National Creative Placemaking Fund, to be awarded in the fall. Philadelphia’s only finalist was the People’s Emergency Center in West Philadelphia, which has applied for funding to host a series of pop-up events, such as play structure builds, large-scale puppetry projects, and digital street art.
The 80 projects represent 6% of the 1,361 initial applications that ArtPlace reviewed. To see the complete list of finalists, please go to bit.ly/1U7HLnY [PDF].
Parks and Open Space News
Celebrate Summer at the All-American BBQ at Dilworth Park
On Wednesday, June 15, through Sunday, June 19, Dilworth Park will host the All-American BBQ in anticipation of the beginning of summer. For five days, the park will be enlivened with a series of fun activities and games, a variety of live music and DJs, plus a 21+ beer garden adjacent to the Dilworth Park Café. For a complete list of events for each day, please go to bit.ly/1t9TwB6.
Get a sneak peak of the menu at the new Air Grille at Dilworth Park Café, a retro-inspired grill coming to the park just in time for the event, where chefs from Brûlée Catering will cook up summer staples available for purchase. Hotdogs, burgers, smoked brisket, falafel burger, and corn on the cob will be sizzling on the grill.
Throughout the summer, Dilworth Park and Sister Cities Park will offer movies, concerts, a farmers’ market, games and activities for children, and much more! For complete information on all the exciting summer activities the CCD has programmed at CCD parks this summer, please visit ccdparks.org.
Political Moviefest: Vote for Your Favorite Candidates!
From July 20 through July 23, in advance of the Democratic National Convention, Dilworth Park will host four nights of free outdoor movies about presidents, politics, and elections.
Participate in our “primary” and help choose the Final Four from the 12 candidates, and enter to win $50 in Reading Terminal Market Gift Certificates! Here’s the link: surveymonkey.com/r/moviefestatdilworth.
The Political Moviefest Primary ends at midnight on Wednesday, June 15. The four movies with the highest number of votes will be announced on Tuesday, June 21.
Limited Use of SEPTA Key Begins Today
Today, June 13, SEPTA rolls out its new fare payment system, SEPTA Key, with 10,000 contactless cards to be used in the “Early Adopter” program that will allow the transit authority to refine the operation as it prepares to implement the system for all riders, SEPTA announced on Friday.
SEPTA Key cards will be available at fare kiosks at 12 stations on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines, and the SEPTA Sales Office at 1234 Market Street. All existing methods of fare payment will continue to be available.
The SEPTA Key card can be reloaded online or at fare kiosks and can be registered to protect against loss or theft. For more information, please go to septa.org/key/. To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1TZW8bH.
I-676 to Close Four Nights Next Week
I-676 will be closed in both directions between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges today, Monday, June 13, through Thursday, June 16, from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning, for overhead bridge construction, PennDOT announced on Thursday.
The overnight work 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 up-to-date information, please go to 511PA.com.
Laws Attempt to Solve Homelessness, Lawsuits Follow
As downtowns continue to flourish and struggle with the complex challenge of chronic homelessness, some cities are enacting laws such as bans on distributing food to the homeless, making it illegal to sit or lie in public and, in one city, a ban on using blankets outdoors, which was later reversed, the Washington Post reported on June 2.
Between 2011 and 2014, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that bans on sleeping in cars shot up 119%, citywide camping prohibitions jumped 60%, anti-loitering laws increased 35% and anti-begging laws increased 25% in a survey of 187 cities.
In response, homeless advocates are filing lawsuits and in the case of Sarasota, Florida, the city has adopted an outreach program, similar to the one the Kenney Administration recently launched.
To read the article, please go to wapo.st/1UxLHeW.
In related news, last week the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Supportive Housing and the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services began to distribute a “Be Street Smart” flyer that offers information on how to deal with situations involving panhandling, the homeless, and the mentally ill and addicted, including phone numbers to call and strategies such as offering to buy a homeless person a meal instead of giving money.
The flyer is part of Mayor Jim Kenney’s new Homeless Outreach initiative in Center City and can be viewed at bit.ly/1rh6kV3 [PDF].
Soda Tax Approved by Council’s Committee of the Whole
City Council’s Committee of the Whole on June 8 approved a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened drinks and diet beverages, with some products exempt, including baby formula and beverages that are more than 50% fresh fruit or vegetables, and milk, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. City Council is expected to give final approval on Thursday. The tax is expected to bring in $91 million annually.
The revenue from the new tax is to pay for pre-K expansion, creation of community schools, improvements to parks, recreation centers and libraries, and a tax-credit program for businesses that sell healthy beverages. However, the Kenney Administration indicated before the vote was taken that $41 million of the revenue raised through 2020 would go into the city's fund balance, which has dropped from $150 million last year to $70 million this year, the article noted. In 2018, $30 million, about a third of the tax's revenue, would go to the fund balance. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1PiTps1.
Council’s move was noted nationally, as various communities across the country are interested in soda taxes, and Philadelphia is the first large city to close in on such a law. To read an article in the New York Times, please go to nyti.ms/1U3OYZo.
CORP Looks Anew at Public Pensions
Temple University’s Center on Regional Politics (CORP) this month published The Problem of Funding Pensions: An Update, referencing its 2013 report, created after a bipartisan group of elected officials, financial experts, and labor representatives came up with suggestions for solving the pension crisis in Philadelphia and throughout the state.
Philadelphia’s Minimum Municipal Obligation to its pension fund is consuming more than 15% of the City’s budget, increasing from $492 million in fiscal 2013 to a projected $629 million in 2017, the update noted. The effectiveness of suggested solutions such as the 1% sales tax was diluted when the first $120 million was diverted to the Philadelphia School District, and, in addition, the sale of PGW was thwarted, the new report noted.
The update offers a glimpse of efforts made in other cities throughout the country, which are struggling with similar pension issues. To read the report, please go to http://bit.ly/1szapFv [PDF].
In related news, Mayor Jim Kenney and Councilman Allan Domb in late May jointly announced a new initiative to collect back taxes from an estimated 25,000 businesses that have not paid the City of Philadelphia. Mayor Kenney estimated the total amount owed could be as high as $70 million before interest and penalties.
Money collected through the new program will go to toward the City’s pension fund liability, KYW reported. To read the KYW article, please go to cbsloc.al/1tlaBJc.
Governor Wolf Signs Bill to Expand Wine Sales
Governor Tom Wolf on June 8 announced that he had signed HB 1690, legislation that removes Sunday restrictions on liquor sales, allows flexible pricing in state stores, enables some restaurants and grocery stores to sell up to four bottles of wine, and authorizes direct shipment of wine to residents.
The new regulations are estimated to bring in at least an additional $115 million in revenue to the commonwealth, the press release noted.
To read the governor’s press release, please go to bit.ly/25P1Gxa.
CPDC's Young Professionals Event Is Tomorrow
Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., at the Café at Dilworth Park on the West Side of City Hall, network with other young professionals and kick off the summer season at Dilworth Park. Join us for an exclusive preview of Dilworth Park’s All-American BBQ and beer garden.
Hear from Paul R. Levy, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center City District, on the impact Dilworth Park has had on surrounding real estate, why the organization is investing in improving public spaces in the downtown, and how you can get involved. Enjoy complimentary appetizers along with a wine and beer open bar.
CPDC Membership Meeting: Transit and Downtown Competitiveness
On Tuesday, June 28, at 4:00 p.m., the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation will hold its Membership Meeting in the Meade Room at the Union League, 140 South Broad Street. (The date was changed from June 21.)
The CPDC will release a new report, Getting to Work, highlighting the residential and commuting patterns of downtown workers and the transit system that brings 290,000 riders into Center City every weekday. An increasing number of employers want to be at the center of the region and close to the highly educated workforce that now lives downtown. At the same time, 23% of the working residents of every Philadelphia neighborhood outside of Greater Center City are commuting to work downtown. But who is reverse commuting and why?
Speakers will be Paul R. Levy, Executive Director, CPDC, offering highlights from the transportation report; Lori F. Reiner, Partner-in-Charge, Philadelphia Office, EisnerAmper on why EisnerAmper opened an office in Center City; and Jeffrey D. Knueppel, General Manager, SEPTA, with an update on upgrades and improvements planned for the regional transit system.
Business casual attire required. No denim.
CPDC members are encouraged to invite both young professionals and other members of their firms to attend this meeting. RSVP to Danielle Allen by Wednesday, June 22 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.440.5533.
GPCC Forum on Infrastructure
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Roadmap for Growth will hold a fourth policy forum on infrastructure, Building Upon Our Infrastructure Assets, on Tuesday, June 21, at Temple University, Mitten Hall, 1913 North Broad Street. Registration is from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and the program begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 10:00 a.m.
The forum will feature City of Philadelphia Deputy Managing Director for Transportation & Infrastructure Clarena I. W. Tolson, who will highlight the Kenney Administration’s plans and current initiatives to increase mobility, safety, and sustainability across Philadelphia’s infrastructure and transportation systems. An interactive discussion with the audience will follow.
Tickets are $35 and registration ends on Monday, June 20. To register, please go to bit.ly/1WLvg57.
DVRPC Transportation Planning Information Session
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is offering the public the opportunity to review and comment on three documents that prioritize transportation projects in southeastern Pennsylvania. Two are available for comment through June 27 and the third is available until July 5.
DVRPC invites the public to learn more about these documents at a Public Meeting/Information Session, on Tuesday, June 21, from
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at the DVRPC Main Conference Room, 190 North Independence Mall West, 8th Floor.
For full details, access to copies of the documents, information about translation requests, and more, please visit bit.ly/1VMYaAL and dvrpc.org/AirQuality/Conformity.