Office Sector News
East Side Gains Momentum
While the majority of new office space continues to be built on the west side of Broad Street, with both the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center and FMC under way, for the first time in several decades, there is strong new interest on the east side, according to the 2015 Greater Philadelphia Mid-Year Office Market Report and Outlook from SSH Real Estate.
Among the mixed-use projects on the east side are NREA’s East Market, which will provide 150,000 square feet (SF) of LEED-certified office space, and 34 South 11th Street (the former Family Court building) to become creative warehouse office space; Brickstone’s 1112-1128 Chestnut with apartments and commercial space, and 15-21 South 11th Street to offer creative office space.
In addition, construction is to begin this summer at the Curtis Center, as Keystone Property Group and Mack-Cali Realty add new luxury rental apartments but preserve some office space, while the Public Ledger building at 600 Chestnut Street, which was purchased by the Carlyle Development Group of New York, will aim to attract technology and entertainment companies, while also considering residential and hotel uses.
Since the end of last year, Class A rental rates in Market East have climbed from $27.17 to $28.54 at mid-year, while Class A rental rates throughout the CBD only rose from $29.36 to $29.45 in the same period.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1I20J9F [PDF].
IBC Leases More Space at 1900 Market
Independence Blue Cross (IBC) has leased an additional 116,000 square feet (SF) of space at 1900 Market Street, adding to the 112,000 SF it leased in April, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on July 28. The building, known as the former Stock Exchange Building, is owned by Brandywine Realty Trust. The property sits across from IBC’s headquarters at 1901 Market Street.
IBC also maintains a 5,000-SF innovation center at 1700 Market and has leased 24,000 SF at 1919 Market, a 29-story mixed-use building under construction.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1MwoISn.
Two Firms Moving to Centre Square
The mortgage insurance company Radian Group Inc. will move its offices from 1601 Market Street, where the company has been headquartered since 1993, to 150,000 square feet (SF) in Centre Square at 1500 Market Street, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on July 31.
The company occupies the same amount of space in its current offices, where the lease expires in August 2017, and is committed to remaining in Philadelphia, the article noted. Last year, Radian leased 23,000 SF of space in Centre Square.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1OFIKYd.
Also, the law firm Obermayer Rebman Maxwell & Hippel has signed a 16-year lease for 66,000 SF on the 33rd and 34th floors of the west tower of Centre Square, where they will move in March 2016 from their current home in Suburban Station, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 4. The firm has occupied 75,000 SF in Suburban Station for the past 19 years.
With these two new leases, the building, which is immediately across from Dilworth Park, will be 95% leased for the first time in decades, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1MKAtVq.
New Chestnut Street Building, Divine Lorraine Win Approval
The Philadelphia Historical Commission’s Architecture Committee voted on July 28 to approve plans for a new 21,000-square-foot commercial building at 1900-1906 Chestnut Street adjacent to the former Boyd Theater, PlanPhilly reported. The new building, designed by Eimer Design, is expected to house a Target Express, bit.ly/1Ir0Coe.
The Architecture Committee also voted to approve the renovation design plans for the Divine Lorraine on North Broad Street, PlanPhilly reported. The committee also offered some suggestions such as having no mechanical equipment for heating and cooling visible from any public right-of-way.
Eric Blumenfeld, the developer, is ready to begin construction on the project, which will have 109 apartments, several restaurants and a sunken outdoor garden area on the south side of the building, the article noted, bit.ly/1IzaBZW.
Both projects will be recommended to the full Historical Commission, which will review the plans at its meeting on Friday, August 14.
Residential Market News
PMC Property Group to Develop West Market Land
PMC Property Group has purchased a four-block strip of land along John F. Kennedy Boulevard between 20th Street and the Schuylkill River for $28.5 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on July 28.
PMC is proposing to construct residential buildings on the property, which includes three thin parcels along JFK Boulevard and a large block fronting the river. The seller was Garrison River City LLC in New York.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1KxgYfI.
Neighborhoods Favored by Retirees and Millennials
Every neighborhood in Greater Center City, except for Grays Ferry, has a higher concentration of millennials and retirees than the remainder of the City of Philadelphia, according to JLL’s Chart of the Week for August 3. The findings, based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates, bode well for the multifamily housing market, as these two groups, especially millennials, like the flexibility of rental housing.
In the neighborhoods of Washington Square West, Chinatown, Society Hill, Rittenhouse, Logan Square and Old City, 50% of the residents are either a millennial or retiree, the chart noted.
To view the chart, please go to bit.ly/1MnTEDp.
Macy’s to Add Same-Day Delivery
Macy's Inc. announced that it will begin same-day delivery for online orders on August 25 at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores in the region, including the Macy’s at 1300 Market Street, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 4.
The charge for same-day delivery from macys.com or bloomingdales.com will be a flat $5 above standard ground shipping fees. The deliveries will be made by Deliv, a rapid-delivery provider, in collaboration with mall owners, including Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) and Simon Property Group.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1M384Z9.
Arts & Culture News
New Leader for Philadelphia Cultural Fund
Barbara Silzle has become executive director of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, effective Monday, August 3, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
She has succeeded June O'Neill, who headed the fund for a dozen years before she resigned in March for personal reasons. Silzle has led several nonprofits including Dress for Success Philadelphia and the Leeway Foundation, and has worked for the Philadelphia Drama Guild, the Prince Music Theater, and Freedom Theatre.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1KwlGdH.
News About the Pope’s Visit
While many issues about if and how office, hotel and retail businesses will be able to operate remain unanswered, Mayor Michael A. Nutter on August 5 announced some of the transportation restrictions that will be in place when Pope Francis visits Philadelphia on September 26-27, including a zone where cars can exit but not enter, and the closing of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the Vine Street Expressway and parts of the Schuylkill Expressway, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In Center City, a “traffic box,” with boundaries from South Street north to Spring Garden Street, and along the Schuylkill to Girard and Ridge Avenues, and extending from the Delaware River west to 38th Street, will limit all vehicle entries beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25. When the “traffic box” restrictions will end has not been announced. Bicycles and pedestrians will be allowed to cross the boundaries. Cars will be permitted to move within the “traffic box” but some designated roadways and streets within the zone will be restricted to emergency vehicles. I-95 will remain open, but some exit ramps will be closed. In addition, Pennsylvania State Police have committed 1,000 officers to assist Philadelphia police in traffic management and crowd control.
To read The Philadelphia Inquirer article, which provides a map of the green zone or “traffic box,” please go to bit.ly/1DqOipj.
To read the Mayor’s press release, please go to bit.ly/1HtyNaW.
To read the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s press release, please go to prn.to/1MfRcyw.
While the Benjamin Franklin Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic from 10:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25, until noon on Monday, September 28, three of the bridge's seven lanes will be open to pedestrians, with the remaining four designated for use by emergency and law enforcement vehicles, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 6, bit.ly/1P980XF.
In other news about the pope’s visit, SEPTA’s lottery on August 3 resulted in requests for 328,045 passes to be used during the papal visit, which left more than 20,000 still available, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 5. The passes are $10, with discounted tickets for seniors and disabled people, at $5.
Unsold passes will be offered first to unsuccessful lottery applicants online, starting today, August 10. Some stations are already sold out. By Friday, August 14, SEPTA expects to know how many passes remain and for which stations. Only the special papal visit passes will be honored on Regional Rail trains the weekend of the pope's visit.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1SUUKf7.
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. will take a request to the School Reform Commission on August 20 to close the Philadelphia School District on Thursday, September 24, in addition to September 25, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, bit.ly/1Hu3tJb. University of Pennsylvania classes and events will be canceled on Friday, September 25, and Drexel University will halt classes from 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 24, through Sunday, September 27, bit.ly/1IoWchw.
Hotel Palomar Sold
Xenia Hotels & Resorts, Inc. has purchased three Kimpton Hotels, including the Hotel Palomar at 117 South 17th Street, for $245 million, according to the company’s announcement on July 28.
The hotel has been managed by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants since it opened in October 2009, after an extensive renovation and will continue to be managed by the company.
To read the press release, please go to prn.to/1D6SmL9.
Philadelphia Vies for Spot in Nation’s Top 10 Food Cities
In his national search for the nation’s 10 best food cities, Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema recently visited Philadelphia and concluded that “the City of Brotherly Love knows how to cook, eat and drink.”
Citing the Reading Terminal Market, along with Center City restaurants Zahav, Vedge, Fork, Buddakan, Vernick Food & Drink, Parc, Vetri, and the new restaurant hot spots such as East Passyunk and Fishtown, Sietsema suggested that Philadelphia would find a spot on the top 10 list, though where was to be determined.
Also mentioned was the city’s craft beer scene, pop-up parks, and cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches.
To read the Washington Post article, published on July 28, please go to wapo.st/1JPxW6k.
Philadelphia Visitor Center Marks Visitor Milestone
The Independence Visitor Center on July 30 celebrated the 30 million visitors it has welcomed since opening in 2001, KYW reported. The Center averages 2.5 million visitors each year, the article noted.
The Center sells tickets to 65 attractions in the region and offers tours, and staff who speak nine languages.
To read the article, please go to cbsloc.al/1haRJWP.
Frontier Airlines Adds Two Nonstops
Beginning October 25, Frontier Airlines will offer nonstop service to Fort Myers, Florida, and Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Philadelphia International Airport, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on July 28.
The three-hour Fort Myers flight will depart Philadelphia seven days a week at 5:00 p.m., except on Tuesdays when it will leave at 5:30 p.m.
The three-days-a-week Montego Bay flight will depart Philadelphia at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, arriving in Montego Bay at 11:25 a.m.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1KwjpiC.
Regional Rail Ridership Up
During fiscal-year 2015, (FY15), ridership on SEPTA’s Regional Rail system increased 2% over FY14 to 37.4 million trips, a new record, Progressive Railroading reported on July 27. Rail ridership now has increased by more than 50% over the past 17 years.
SEPTA also finished FY2015 with a balanced budget for the 16th consecutive year, the article noted, saving money by combatting fraudulent lawsuits and implementing a wayside storage program that uses regenerative braking on rail cars.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1OCb91k.
Indego Popular and Will Expand
Indego, the City of Philadelphia’s bike share system, registered 180,000 rides in its first 100 days, and more than 33,000 unique riders used the system, PlanPhilly reported on August 6.
Daily ridership averages around 1,800, with each bike averaging about three rides a day, up from two rides a day a month after the launch on April 23.
An expansion of the system, expected to begin next spring will increase the number of bicycles from 650 to 1,800 and the number of locations from 72 to 180, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1KUQNQr.
Improvements for Christopher Columbus Boulevard
PennDOT announced on Friday that tonight, August 10, it will begin to repair and resurface Christopher Columbus Boulevard between Race and Spring Garden Streets. For the next four weeks, travel restrictions will be in effect Mondays through Fridays from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the next morning.
The resurfacing of Christopher Columbus Boulevard is part of PennDOT’s $13.4 million project to repair and resurface 24 miles of state highway in Philadelphia.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1JRA6GS.
Valet Parking on Demand Begins
Luxe, an app that can be downloaded to any iOS or Android device and provides on-demand valet parking, launched in Center City on August 4, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The service is available from 12th to 21st Streets and Race to Pine Streets. Service can be requested at the beginning of your trip, the app tracks the car’s progress, and a uniformed and insured valet is waiting at the destination point. To retrieve the car, a half-hour notice is required. The service costs $5 per hour with a maximum of $20 per day and all fees and tips are paid by credit card only.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1E4LmcD.
City’s Tax Revenues on the Upswing
City of Philadelphia General Fund tax collections totaled $169.8 million in June, an increase of $3.2 million (1.9%) over the previous year, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.
Revenues for other taxes also increased over the same period in 2014: wage and earnings ($9.9 million), real estate ($6.3 million), real estate transfer (RETT, $1.6 million), parking ($0.2 million), and amusement ($0.1 million).
These increases were offset by declines in sales tax ($10.1 million), business income and receipts (BIRT, $0.6 million), and net profits (NPT, $0.5 million). The decline in sales tax revenue reflected the allocation of a portion of the tax to the School District of Philadelphia, effective July 1, 2014.
Preliminary data indicate that the wage tax base increased 18.3% in nominal terms from FY10 to FY15, an average annual rate of 3.4%.
To read the report, released on July 28, please go to bit.ly/1I9dPzz [PDF].
Compass in City Hall Courtyard Restored
A compass with a stylized map of Philadelphia from the 1600s is being restored by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program in the City Hall courtyard at the location where William Penn pinpointed the center of Philadelphia.
To read KYW’s coverage, please go to cbsloc.al/1gKUXAw, or walk into the City Hall courtyard and think about what other improvements you might like to see here.
McGinty Announces Run for U.S. Senate
Governor Tom Wolf’s former chief of staff, Katie McGinty, announced on August 4 that she would challenge former Congressman Joe Sestak in the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary next year in May, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
McGinty previously served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection during the Edward G. Rendell administration and chaired the Council on Environmental Quality during the Bill Clinton administration. She closely collaborated with then-Vice President Al Gore and worked on his 2000 presidential campaign.
The winner of the Democratic primary will challenge the Republican incumbent, Senator Pat Toomey, in the November 8, 2016, general election.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1KOcpk5.
A Variety of Activities at Dilworth Park
Rosa Blanca Café is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Also, Capogiro Gelato Artisans, a family-owned gelateria, has its colorful custom-made cart open seven days a week from noon to 9:00 p.m. on the north side of the park. Capogiro offers sorbetto and gelato in a wide array of flavors.
Scheduled activities include:
Sips at Dilworth – Every Wednesday through September 16, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Rosa Blanca Café hosts Center City District Sips. DJs provide music from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. On August 12, the DJ will be Roger Culture, and August 19, Philly Reggae Girls.
Farmers’ Market at Dilworth Park – Every Wednesday through November 18, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., McCann’s Farm of Elk Township, New Jersey, offers an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, from asparagus to blueberries to zucchini. PetAl Plants & Flowers of New Jersey stocks a wide variety of houseplants and flowers, and Philly Bread brings freshly baked breads.
Rhythms at Rosa Blanca – Every Thursday, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. through September 17, there is live music featuring duos and trios playing summer-style and Latin music.
Here’s the lineup:
August 13 & 27 – Trinidelphia;
August 20 – Rafael Pondé;
September 3 – El Caribefunk;
September 10 & 17 – De Tierra Caliente.
Dog Days at Dilworth Park and Yappy Hours – On Wednesday, August 19, 26 and September 2, pets and owners are invited to come to the south end of Dilworth Park from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for $5 sangria, $4 wine, and $3 beers. Meet adoptable pets from PAWS and learn more about TD Bank, the pet friendly bank, sponsor of Yappy Hours. Then, August 25-27, 11:00 am to 1:30 p.m., stop by for Dog Days to check out pet products, get advice from a professional trainer or learn how to adopt a pet. Please visit dilworthpark.org for complete schedules and details.
Save the date! The Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park reopens November 13!
For complete information on Dilworth Park, please go to dilworthpark.org.
Pairings on the Parkway
Every Thursday, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sister Cities Park at 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway hosts Pairings on the Parkway. Bring Your Own favorite bottle and take a seat at one of the tables outside the cafe or bring a blanket and find a spot under a tree or on the grass. Logan Square Café is offering a special summer grilling menu. Bring the whole family and enjoy the Children's Discovery Garden; plus there's live music every week! On August 13, Kwesi K will perform, and on August 20, Tim Williams. Music is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
For more information, please visit sistercitiespark.org.