Office Sector News
Avenue of the Arts Building Sold
The Atlantic Building, 260 South Broad Street, has been sold to Post Brothers, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on July 20.
The building has 21 stories and 330,000 square feet, and was 60% vacant at the time of the sale. Post Brothers' website describes their mission as "Philadelphia's source for newly delivered luxurious, yet affordable and environmentally friendly apartments in the city's most beautiful neighborhoods," so they are likely to continue the trend of converting older, underperforming office buildings to residential use.
Cozen O'Connor Will Move to One Liberty Place
In a related move of office tenants to better office space, Cozen O'Connor on July 2 signed a 17-year lease for 200,000 square feet of space at One Liberty Place, and will move in spring 2015 from 1900 Market Street. The law firm will occupy floors 21 through 28, and a portion of the seventh floor.
The Advantages of Center City
Glenn D. Blumenfeld of Tactix Real Estate Advisors, LLC, 1700 Market Street, in his Tactix blog post, "World Economics and the Case for Center City," enumerates the many advantages Center City has in the economy that has emerged since the Great Recession, advantages that could be maximized if the City reformed its tax structure.
To read the article, please go to tactix.com/blog/?p=122.
Manufacturing Slump Expected to Rebound
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Business Outlook Survey for July indicated wavering business conditions in the region, though the diffusion index of current activity, the survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, showed a slight improvement, moving from −16.6 in June to −12.9 in July.
The percent of firms reporting decreases in employment (18%) exceeded the percent reporting increases (10%). However, manufacturers saw a slight increase in the prices of their goods, with 13% reporting an increase, and 11% a decrease. To read the report, please go to bit.ly/NkEoKJ.
Eds and Meds News
Middleton Family Makes Education Gift
Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced on July 17 that John S. and Leigh Middleton, part owners of the Philadelphia Phillies, were making a gift of $16.2 million to promote education, workforce training and professional development, and the monies will be given to the School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Academies, Inc., Philadelphia Youth Network, and Drexel University through the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
The Philadelphia School District will receive $5.7 million to pay for educational, workforce training, and professional development programming. Over the next five years, the funding will increase Career and Technical Education program enrollment to 12,000 total students, an increase of 6,800 students overall.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/MkQMJ6.
Grant Will Help Freire Charter School Expand
The Philadelphia School Partnership, a nonprofit partnership dedicated to accelerating the pace of academic reform in city schools, on July 19 announced it has awarded Great Schools Fund grants totaling $3.8 million to four schools to help create an additional 2,200 seats in high-quality schools in the city.
Among the recipients was Freire Charter School, 2027 Chestnut Street, which was awarded $350,000 to help it add a middle-school program with 500 students in grades five through eight.
To view a complete list of the awards, please go to bit.ly/MdeHaL.
Tax Credits for Helping Center City Schools
The Center City District Foundation (CCDF) announced on July 13 that it has been approved by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be an Educational Improvement Organization (EIO) and is now able to receive funds from the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program.
Eligible businesses may apply to receive tax credits from this program. The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development on July 2 began taking applications for tax credits for Fiscal Year 2012-13. The tax credits are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Once approved, a business has 60 days to designate the EIO to which it wants to make a contribution.
The Foundation's EIO was approved to assist the 12 public elementary schools between Girard Avenue and Tasker Street on the following initiatives: Arts & Culture; Foreign Language Development; and Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy.
If this tax credit program makes sense for your company, please apply and designate the CCDF as the recipient of your contribution, and help support Center City's schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Nancy Goldenberg at 215.440.5548 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WPF Awards Nearly $32 Million in Grants
The William Penn Foundation (WPF) on July 10 announced 36 grants totaling approximately $32 million to a variety of regional organizations. The largest grant went to the Philadelphia Schools Project, which received $15 million for the Great Schools Fund (mentioned above), while 10 grants for more than $4.2 million will fund watershed protection initiatives across the region. In addition, 20 grants were made to a variety of cultural organizations, including the Kimmel Center, the Franklin Institute, and 1812 Productions. To view a complete list of the grants, please go to bit.ly/MzGxmj [PDF].
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/PHPuKa.
Daffy's to Close
Daffy's, Inc., discount retailer of fashion and home accessories, announced on July 16 that it will close all of its 19 stores, including the Center City store at 1700 Chestnut, opening up a significant new multi-floor retail opportunity on a prime downtown corner.
Daffy's first opened in New York City and has been in business for 51 years, but faced slowing sales in the "off-price" arena, which has become more competitive, the Associated Press reported.
Daffy's opened in Philadelphia in the former eight-story Bonwit Teller space in 1992 and is expected to be gone in September. A new tenant has not been announced.
Renovation Adds Retail Space at 1601 Market
Fameco has announced that the ground floor of 1601 Market Street is being renovated in order to expand retail opportunities with an additional 5,500 square feet of space. The expansion should allow for three to four new tenants, further animating this block of Market Street. For more information, please go to bit.ly/NGpCtB.
SugarHouse Takes in $271 Million in First Full Fiscal Year
SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware Riverfront in Northern Liberties, which opened September 23, 2010, ended its first complete fiscal year on June 30, taking in $271,025,001 during Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12), with $75,906,818 in taxes going to the state and $9,216,831 going to the City, according to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
Revenue during the last month of FY12 was slightly less compared to May. The combined take from table games and slot machines in June was $22,308,153, compared with May's $23,308,019. The Commonwealth's share of taxes was $6,273,108, down from May's $6,551,131. The City of Philadelphia collected $761,159 in June, compared to $794,960 in the previous month.
To see revenue from all casinos, please go to bit.ly/v6A959.
In other gaming news, the PGCB announced on July 11 that the second casino license originally assigned to Philadelphia would not be auctioned statewide and set November 15, 2012, as the deadline for proposals. Several developers have expressed interest in a casino project, with at least three proposed in Center City, but the process of approval could take as long as nine months and a new casino is not expected to open before 2014, at the earliest. Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer contained an overview of the current status, naming two developers who have announced their intentions and five others who are said to be considering a bid. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/MiLHhV.
Arts and Culture News
Oneida Nation Gives $10 Million for Museum
The Oneida Nation of New York announced on July 11 that it is giving $10 million toward construction of the Museum of the American Revolution, planned for Third and Chestnut Streets. The gift represents 25% of the challenge grant of $40 million promised to the museum last month by H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest. The American Revolution Center seeks to raise $150 million for construction and programming of the museum, as well as an endowment. The museum, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, is striving to open by early 2016.
Oneida leaders said the gift was made in part to recognize the little known role the Oneidas played in the Revolutionary War. To read the Oneida Nation's press release, please go to bit.ly/MA3pM5.
Art Installation Approved for Dranoff Project
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission on July 11 approved a public art installation for Southstar Lofts, a new apartment project by Dranoff Properties at Broad and South Streets. The new building is adjacent to Dranoff's 777 South Broad and also to a subway stop on the northeast corner of Broad and South. The multicolored two-part installation, LightPlay, will use refracted light and other lighting effects, and will create a canopy over the subway entrance. Part of the City's One Percent for Art program, the installation is being created by the noted public art team of Mags Harries and Lajos Héder of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
To view a rendering of the project, please go to bit.ly/LuLx5l.
Amtrak Streamlines Plan for High-Speed Rail
Amtrak, on July 9, released an updated report on improving 438 miles of Northeast Corridor rail from Washington, D.C., to Boston, that consolidates two previous separate plans designed to improve and update the existing Northeast Corridor for a proposed next-generation rail system. The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor, 2012 Update Report, estimates a cost of $151 billion to put high-speed rail in service on the Northeast Corridor by 2030 to New York and 2040 to Boston. Under previous separate plans, the costs were estimated as $52 billion mostly for track upgrades, repairs and improvements, and $117 billion for next-generation trains.
In the new plan, Market East would be the hub for high-speed trains that would make the trip from Center City to New York City in only 37 minutes, with 30th Street Station used for slower, regional trains. A station planned for East Manhattan was eliminated in the revised plan, due to high cost and lack of enthusiasm for it.
The plan estimates the project would create 40,000 annual construction jobs and 7,000 permanent new jobs within Amtrak.
To read the entire 42-page report, please go to bit.ly/Prw1ML [PDF].
The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor, 2012 Update Report and the financing of the high-speed rail plan was the main topic of discussion at the July 10 monthly conference call of the Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility. To read the minutes, please go to bit.ly/NtMOuZ.
SEPTA Ridership Highest in Two Decades
SEPTA ridership in Fiscal Year 2012 totaled 339.3 million trips, a 1.6% increase over the previous fiscal year and the highest ridership in 23 years (since 1989), SEPTA reported in its year-end Revenue and Ridership Report. Ridership in the city was up 1.6%, or4.36 million additional riders. Regional Rail ridership, however, fell slightly below last year by 0.4%, for a total of 35.25 million trips.
Due to the overall increase in ridership, SEPTA exceeded its revenue projection by 1.3%, or $5.85 million. To read the report, please go to bit.ly/MMtyYZ [PDF].
Spirit Airlines to Add Service
Spirit Airlines, noted for its competitive air fares, announced on July 16 that it will debut nonstop service from Philadelphia to Dallas-Fort Worth in April 2013. The flights will be available four days a week in April and increase to daily offerings in June.
Spirit Airlines specializes in domestic travel and flights to Latin America and the Caribbean. To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/Mvl5ib [PDF].
Study Looks at Jobs Accessibility by Transit
A report issued on July 11 by the Brookings Institution looks at access to jobs by transit and compares cities to suburbs to see how many jobs are near transit networks and how many workers can reach those jobs. Northeastern cities generate the highest accessibility rates, but suburban jobs in the region are reachable by only 15% of working-age residents, a nearly 31 percentage point difference between city and suburbs.
Metropolitan New York has the highest difference, 43.7%, and the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area, where the regional transit system converges in downtown Philadelphia, has the lowest of the top 10 cities, with a 30.1% difference.
The report also offers policy implications of the findings. To read Where the Jobs Are: Employer Access to Labor by Transit, please go to bit.ly/Nt5Zai [PDF]. To see the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington chart, please go to bit.ly/LA5rk4 [PDF].
Parks and Open Space News
Judge Blocks Ban on Public Feedings in City Parks
On July 13, U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn issued a temporary injunction that blocked enforcement of the new city ordinance that prohibited mass public offerings of free food in the City's parks. On March 14, Mayor Nutter announced that he had instructed the Commissioner of Parks & Recreation to issue a regulation that would ban this practice in all City parks. The mayor wanted all feedings to move to the north apron of the City Hall, beginning June 1. However, Judge Yohn indicated that he intended to block enforcement of the feeding ban for at least a year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, so that all groups could devise a better solution. The ban was challenged in court by civil rights attorney Paul M. Messing and the Philadelphia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Chosen 300 Ministries, the Welcome Church, the King's Jubilee, and Philly Restart, groups that provide food at public gatherings along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Grant Awarded for The Porch at 30th Street Station
The University City District (UCD) has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation to support continued improvements at The Porch, the new public space that serves as a gateway for travelers using 30th Street Station. The grant will be used to support new and existing cultural programming as well as planning and design concepts for The Porch's next phase.
The Porch currently presents a variety of performances including circus acts and French swing accordion music, a weekly farmers' market, yoga and kickboxing classes, plus other special events.
VIADUCTgreene Awarded Service Grant
VIADUCTgreene, a nonprofit organization has been awarded a Community Design Collaborative (CDC) service grant to develop conceptual designs to connect the proposed Reading Viaduct elevated park east of Broad at Noble Street to a proposed linear park in submerged open spaces and railroad tunnels west of Broad to Fairmount Park, 55 city blocks without crossing a street.
Designs will be explored by OLIN, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, CVM, and VJ Associates (who worked on the New York City High Line). A community task force comprised of approximately 20 stakeholders, including neighborhood representatives, city officials, nonprofit leaders and other stakeholders, will participate in the design process.
For more information on the project, please go to viaductgreene.org.
Pew Explores Growth in Cities
The Pew Charitable Trusts' American Cities Project and Center for the States have created an interactive graphic, City vs. Metro Population Growth, to accompany the report Many Major Cities Gain Population Faster Than the Rest of Their Metro Areas. The report and graphic explore the U.S. Census' recent findings that many cities are growing faster than the Metropolitan Areas that surround them.
The graphic shows that 13 of 30 major cities, including Philadelphia, grew more rapidly than the rest of their surrounding metropolitan areas between April 2010 and July 2011.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/LwXgFh. To view the interactive graphic, please go to bit.ly/M5dLHX.
Homestead Exemption Deadline Extended
The Office of Property Assessment (OPA) on July 12 issued a real estate tax update advising that homeowners have until November 15, 2012, to apply for the homestead exemption, and it will not be calculated in real estate tax bills until 2014, when the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) is to debut. Applications do not have to be submitted by July 31st, as previously announced, the notice stated. The homestead exemption allows property owners who reside in their homes as their primary residence to deduct a to-be-determined amount off the assessed value.
After the City completes its reassessment of properties in the fall, it is proposing to mail property owners notices of their assessment changes – not at that time – but rather not until in February 2013, which could set up a reprise of the rushed process that occurred in the spring of 2012 as Council tried to work through the implications of AVI.
To read the entire update, please go to bit.ly/NxRFh3.
Exploring Ideas for the BF Parkway
Penn Praxis and The Penn Project on Civic Engagement will be hosting four community meetings this month to discuss the types of programs and projects that will continue to animate the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, with the goal of outlining a set of projects that can be accomplished in the near future. The first one is tonight.
Registration for the meetings will be 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the program will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The meetings will take place in four different locations:
• Monday, July 23rd, Second Pilgrim Baptist Church, 854 North 15th Street
•Tuesday, July 24th, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 100 North 20th Street, Fifth Floor
•Monday, July 30th, Olivet Covenant Presbyterian Church, 22nd and Mount Vernon Streets
•Tuesday, July 31st, Next American City Storefront for Urban Innovation, 2816 West Girard Avenue
To RSVP, please email Praxis@design.upenn.edu. For more information, please call 215.898.1112.