Another Office Building Adds Residential
Affiliates of Keystone Property Group and Mack-Cali Realty Corporation on June 9 announced they had bought the landmark Curtis Center, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. The historic Class A office and retail property across from Washington Square Park sold for $125 million.
The buyers plan to convert approximately 90,000 SF of existing office space within the building into 90 luxury rental apartments, complete capital improvements to the property, and renovate the building's HVAC system, roof, facade and parking garage, according to the press release. They also expect to add a new restaurant at the corner of Sixth and Walnut Streets, with outdoor seating overlooking Washington Square Park and Independence National Historical Park.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1jn9fBr.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1l2R5ZZ.
Brickstone to Make Public Upgrades as Part of Sign Deal
Brickstone Realty will spend $10 million over two years to upgrade the Ridge Avenue subway concourse in exchange for the right to erect a 14-foot-tall digital sign atop the Lit Brothers Building at 701 Market Street, PlanPhilly reported on June 10, the same day the Philadelphia City Planning Commission approved the plan.
The public investment is a provision of the Market Street East Advertising District, which allows for large, digital advertising signs, the article noted.
Other public improvements Brickstone will make include upgrading public restrooms in the Lit Building, lighting historic features of the building's facade, improving adjacent sidewalks, replacing escalators, and adding awnings and bike racks on Filbert Street.
To read the article and see a rendering, please go to bit.ly/SN5I8M.
Details on Girard Estate Development
National Real Estate Development has released more detailed renderings of their plans for the 4.3-acre site bounded by East Market, Chestnut, 11th and 12th Streets. The two-story building fronting Market Street will be taken down in the first phase to make way for a 17-story tower that will have the first two levels dedicated to 160,000 square feet of retail space and the remainder an apartment structure with 322 units. This phase will also involve renovating the 200,000-square-foot Family Court building and preparing that for retail space on the street level and office space above. Renderings for the balance of the site show walkways through to Chestnut Street, as well as revitalized Clover and Ludlow Streets with ground-floor retail.
To see the new renderings, please go to bit.ly/TnU3gZ [PDF].
New Development Plan for Broad and Washington
Developer Bart Blatstein will propose development of a full block at South Broad Street and Washington Avenue that would include a 30-story residential tower with 800 rental units and a wide array of amenities, including a dog park, pool, running park, private garden, fire pits, grilling areas, outdoor movies, and tennis courts, as well as substantial retail and restaurants, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on June 18. The project could cost more than $150 million, the article noted.
Blatstein envisions a vertical self-contained community in the vein of the Piazza, but concentrated in a smaller space, the article noted. Blatstein, however, is still working on the revised plan and has yet to present the concept to neighborhood residents and other city groups.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1jBl9Yx.
RiverWalk Plan Approved by PCPC
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission on June 10 approved NP International's RiverWalk development along the Schuylkill River, and the project now will go before the Civic Design Review committee and City Council, Curbed Philadelphia reported.
The plan calls for three mixed-use towers with a total of 665 residential units, a hotel, and retail to be built on a large vacant space between 23rd Street and the Schuylkill River in the east and west and JFK Boulevard and Race Street to the south and north, respectively.
The space is split by SEPTA tracks that flow into 30th Street Station and sits on multiple street levels. NP is proposing a 42-story mixed-use tower in the lot between JFK Boulevard and the train tracks, and the other two towers would be substantially smaller.
To see renderings and read the article, please go to bit.ly/1pJkYBR.
Eds & Meds News
$110 Million Gift to Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson University has renamed its medical school the Sidney Kimmel Medical College in honor of the Sidney Kimmel Foundation’s $110 million donation, Jefferson announced on June 17. The gift was the single largest in the university’s history.
The donation will be used to create scholarships to attract the top medical students who exhibit both intellectual and emotional intelligence, a capital fund to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, an innovation and research fund to attract high-caliber faculty, and an endowment fund for initiatives such as faculty recruitment, retention, research and publication.
To read an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer about the gift, please go to bit.ly/UcaCNG.
To read the university’s press release, please go to bit.ly/1im7gCt.
School District Properties Sold
Drexel University and Wexford Science & Technology closed on the $25.1 million acquisition of the former University City High School, Charles Drew Elementary School, and Walnut Center from the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on June 16.
Drexel is planning for a $1 billion mixed-use community that would include a public school, residential, retail and recreational space as well as a laboratory and research office space and parking. It has the potential to generate 3,700 jobs once completed, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/UGk9gH.
The former William Penn High School on North Broad Street on June 19 was officially sold by the district to Temple University for $15 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Temple plans to use the building fronting Broad Street as a job-training academy and raze the remaining property for use as athletic fields and recreation space for students, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1yrBTLW.
City's Innovation District in the Vanguard Nationally
University City's innovation district, anchored by the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the University City Science Center, is featured in a new report from Brookings titled The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America, Newsworks reported on June 9.
University City in Philadelphia has enormous potential, only a portion of which has been realized, the article noted. University City is noteworthy because it has an iconic presence, several transit options, and a good track record of attracting entrepreneurs, but needs to improve the employment prospects of low-income residents who live nearby, the article noted.
To read the Newsworks article, please go to bit.ly/1jp4ebC.
To read the Brookings report, please go to bit.ly/Tzytqr [PDF].
Manufacturing Activity Improving
Regional manufacturing activity expanded in June for the fourth straight month, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Business Outlook Survey for June.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, 75 companies responded to the survey.
New orders were up for 39.2% of the respondents, down for 22.4% and remained the same for 38.2%.
Prices received for goods increased for 21.7% of the firms and dipped for 7.6%, with 70.7% reporting no change.
The number of full-time employees increased for 22.4% of the companies, fell for 10.5%, and was unchanged for 65.9%.
Looking forward six months, 58.5% of respondents expected business conditions to improve, while 6.5% foresaw a decrease, and 31.5% responded that they did not expect any change.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1lF7t30.
To read an article from The Philadelphia Inquirer about the report, please go to bit.ly/1rclWUN.
Revenue Up at SugarHouse
Revenue at the SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River increased in May, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
In May, the casino took in $23,452,080 compared to $22,943,675 in April. The Commonwealth’s share was $6,305,877, compared to $6,118,000 in April. The City of Philadelphia received $783,393 compared to $759,721 last month.
To see all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/16izgf9.
In other SugarHouse news, Commonwealth Court on June 16 dismissed a lawsuit brought by the casino that claimed the PGCB had no legal right to re-issue Philadelphia's second casino license, PlanPhilly reported. The license in question was previously granted to Foxwoods Casino, and then revoked when Foxwoods failed to build at Columbus Boulevard and Reed Street.
The court decision paves the way for the PGCB to choose one of the five applicants seeking the casino license; a decision could happen this month.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1ltjOsu.
Arts and Culture News
Karabots Pavilion Opens
The $41 million, three-story Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion at The Franklin Institute opened to the public on Saturday, June 14, with the largest permanent exhibit at the museum, Your Brain, as well as a climate-controlled traveling exhibition gallery, a state-of-the-art conference center, and an expansive new education center.
With over 70 interactive experiences, the 8,500-square-foot Your Brain exhibition has interactive technology that makes visitors an integral part of the exhibit experience as they travel through a two-story climbing structure simulating a neural network, with dynamic lighting and sound effects that are triggered by their footsteps.
The Philadelphia Inquirer created a special section for the opening, which can be viewed here: bit.ly/TTwo8T.
Philadelphia Under Consideration for 2016 DNC
Philadelphia is one of six cities on a short list of possible sites for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in 2016, the Daily Pennsylvanian reported on June 18.
The other candidate cities are Birmingham, Alabama; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; New York City; and Phoenix, Arizona.
Convention bids will be appraised by a Technical Advisory Committee and selection will be based on facilities and their capacity to stage the event as well as hotel capacity, among other considerations. The committee will visit each city. A decision is expected in late 2014 or early 2015.
Former Governor Edward G. Rendell is leading Philadelphia’s bid for the convention.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/SWlQoq. To read an article by Dave Davies of Newsworks that offers insight into some of the costs associated with bringing the convention to Philadelphia, please go to bit.ly/SXvIOx.
Bike Share Bill Passes
City Council on June 19 passed Bill #140449 authorizing the City’s planned bike share system, expected to launch in spring 2015.
The bill, introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown on May 15, will enable a system that will provide bikes at 60 stations in a broad area that stretches far beyond Center City and University City. The stations will be located from the Navy Yard to north of Temple University, and from the Delaware River to 52nd Street.
In 2012, Mayor Michael A. Nutter committed $3 million in capital funding to launch Bike Share Philadelphia. After a competitive RFP process, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities selected Bicycle Transit Systems and B-cycle as operator and vendor, respectively.
To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/1gjcj5I.
Wheelchair-Accessible Taxis Approved
The Philadelphia Parking Authority on June 12 approved new rules that would provide medallions for wheelchair-accessible taxis and rules for cab security cameras, CBS Philly reported.
The authority is now on a path to hold auctions, beginning in November, for 45 wheelchair-accessible taxicab medallions, which officials believe may sell for more than $500,000 apiece, the article noted.
The authority also has submitted regulations, which now go for state review, to install security cameras in every taxicab in the city.
To read the article, please go to cbsloc.al/ST5Zao.
President Obama Averts SEPTA Strike
President Obama on June 14 signed an executive order appointing an emergency board to mediate the SEPTA labor dispute, and Regional Rail service was restored on Sunday morning avoiding a lengthy strike, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Governor Corbett made the request to the President asking for the presidential emergency board, which automatically averts a strike for 240 days. The board will meet with both sides and deliver a report to President Obama recommending how the dispute should be resolved.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/U3KB2Y.
SEPTA Overnight Service Popular on First Weekend
On Sunday, June 15, SEPTA launched weekend overnight service on the Broad Street and Market Frankford Lines, with 5,792 riders using the service between midnight and 5:00 a.m., a 35% increase over the average number of riders who used Nite Owl bus service, SEPTA reported in a press release.
SEPTA staff reported that many young people chose the subway, with high ridership counts observed at the 40th, Second Street, Spring Garden, and Girard Stations on the Market-Frankford Line. Ridership on both lines peaked between midnight and 2:00 a.m., with numbers of riders declining more than half after those hours.
To read the press release included in an article from the Philadelphia Business Journal, please go to bit.ly/1lPBvS0.
Parks and Open Space News
Sister Cities Park Honored With Inaugural Rouse Award
Sister Cities Park was awarded a ULI Philadelphia Willard G. "Bill" Rouse III Inaugural Award for Excellence on June 18 at an awards ceremony at the Benjamin Franklin. Sister Cities Park was one of 57 submissions from around the region, was one of 28 finalists and one of nine equal winners. The design team for the park included DIGSAU architects, Studio|Bryan Hanes, landscape architect, and Pennoni Engineers, Inc.
The panel of jurors cited Sister Cities Park as “a cozy family room for Philadelphia’s downtown core, welcoming to children and adults alike, as well as its ability to be replicated in other cities.”
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/UQySph.
City Council Passes Budget
At its last session until September, City Council on June 19 passed a $4.5 billion operating budget for the city, an increase of $557 million over fiscal year 2014, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The budget includes proceeds from the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works, which had been anticipated to sell for $1.86 billion, however City Council never introduced legislation that would allow the bill to proceed. Under the proposed sale agreement, UIL Holdings, the buyer, can opt out of the agreement on July 15. The budget includes $28 million in Wage & Business Tax Reductions and no increase in Use & Occupancy Tax.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1pmRgiw.
Philadelphia School District Funding Update
City Council continues to struggle to find funding for the Philadelphia School District.
Council on June 19 passed Bill #14052, introduced by Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco on June 5, that authorizes $27 million in borrowing immediately to aid the District for FY14. To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/Tfmfmn.
For FY15, Council previously passed a bill that would provide $120 million to the District from an extended 1% sales tax.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown on June 19 introduced Bill #140609 that would authorize the city to borrow another $30 million for the schools. That bill can’t be considered until Council returns in September.
To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/1pteVQk.
The School District, the Mayor, City Council, and Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce are advocating in Harrisburg for authorization from the General Assembly for Philadelphia to levy a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes sold here – a tax estimated to generate $45 million for the District in FY15, and an average of $82 million annually in subsequent years.
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said he needs $440 million just to get to this year's service levels, which he said were inadequate.
To read a Philadelphia Inquirer story on Council’s action, please go to bit.ly/1nSlkDi.
City and Recyclebank Renew Partnership
Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced on June 12 that the City of Philadelphia and Recyclebank® have renewed their partnership as the program enters its fifth year in Philadelphia, according to the City’s press release.
Philadelphia Recycling Rewards is part of the City’s broad strategy to achieve a 25% residential recycling diversion rate by 2015.
Philadelphia’s residential recycling tonnages have increased from 74,800 in tons per year in FY 2009 to 125,000 tons in FY 2014. During that time, the City has benefitted from $9.2 million in cumulative avoided disposal costs and additional recycling revenue. The City's current residential curbside recycling diversion rate is approximately 21.5%.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1jwMbAr.
Philly Growth Slower Than Most
In May, the U.S. Census Bureau put out its 2013 population estimates for cities and the numbers show that Philadelphia's recent gains, while significant, are modest in the national context, according to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trust’s Philadelphia Research Initiative.
Since 2010, only four of the nation's 30 largest cities have had slower growth rates than the 1.8% Philadelphia has experienced. They are Memphis (1.0%), Chicago (0.9%), Baltimore (0.2%), and Detroit (-3.5%). The fastest-growing big city during that period was Austin, Texas, at 9.2%.
To view the charts, please go to 1.usa.gov/1m0TPI2.
Book Release Party for New Biography of Dilworth
On Sunday, June 29, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., there will be a launch party and book signing for the new biography, Richardson Dilworth, Last of the Bare-Knuckled Aristocrats, by Peter Binzen with Jonathan Binzen, at the Franklin Inn Club, 205 South Camac Street.
Published by Camino Books, this major biography relates the rollicking story of Philadelphia’s crusading district attorney, mayor, and school board president. It sells for $24.95.
For more information on the book, please visit Camino Books’ website at bit.ly/1lSyrQh.
Welcome America and Fireworks on the Fourth
Wawa Welcome America Festival begins Saturday, June 28, and continues through Friday, July 4. There will be a variety of free events featuring food, entertainment, parades, fireworks and fun for the whole family.
The celebration culminates on the Fourth of July with the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony on the steps of Independence Hall, Sixth and Chestnut Streets, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; Independence Day Parade with more than 5,000 participants, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Let Freedom Ring Ceremony, Independence Square, Fifth and Market Streets, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Party on the Parkway, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 20th Street to Eakins Oval, from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and Philly 4th of July Jam & Fireworks, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 20th Street to Eakins Oval, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., followed by fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
For complete information on the festival, please go to welcomeamerica.com.
Next Generation Conference
The International Council of Shopping Centers will hold its Next Generation Conference July 27 through July 29 in Philadelphia. A Welcome to Philadelphia Reception will be held Sunday, July 27, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Next Generation Conference is the culmination of more than 800 Next Generation events held globally since 2001. The event includes dynamic speakers, compelling topics and exciting formats. Whether you’re moving up in your career or searching for networking opportunities to improve your business, this event has it all.
Join the Conversation on Twitter: Tweet using the hashtag #NEXTGenConf and follow @ICSC for the latest news and updates on the conference.
For more information or to register, please go to bit.ly/1qqazZO.