Office Sector News
Office Rental Rates Increased in First Half of 2014
Asking rental rates increased across all building classes in Philadelphia in the first half of 2014, with Class A rents rising from $28.53/SF to $29.03/SF, and Class B and C buildings increasing from $22.04 to $22.55, according to SSH Real Estate’s 2014 Greater Philadelphia Mid-Year Office Market Report and Outlook. Suburban Class A rents barely moved from $24.70 in mid-year 2013 to $24.63 mid-year 2014.
Vacancy rates in the city rose from 10.20% to 11.08% for Class A space and from 10.90% to 11.41% for Class B and C buildings. Suburban vacancy rates mid-year 2014 were 13.21% for Class A and 13.79% for B buildings.
To read the report, please go to sshrealestate.com/files/2014MidYearReport.pdf [PDF].
More Space for Mixed-Income Multi-Family Development
Brown Hill Development will be able to build about 15% more square footage at its 205 Race Street development because of a provision in the city’s new zoning code that offers developers the opportunity to increase density in exchange for creating mixed-income housing, PlanPhilly reported on August 11. The development is one of the first to utilize this provision in the zoning code, the article noted.
Fifteen of the 148 apartments will be rented at a maximum of $1,135 per month for a two-bedroom unit, and no more than $799 per month for an efficiency. Market rates will be charged for the balance of the units in the building.
205 Race Street also will have 14,000 SF of retail, 28 below-grade parking spaces for residents, and a green roof.
Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2015. The completion date was not announced.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1vCoHF4.
Skills Deficit Makes STEM Jobs Hard to Fill
Job openings for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) positions take longer to fill than openings in other fields, according to a July report from Brookings.
The median duration of advertising for a STEM vacancy was more than twice as long as for a non-STEM vacancy, the article noted. For STEM openings requiring a Ph.D. or other professional degree, advertisements continued for an average of 50 days, compared to 33 days for all non-STEM vacancies. Even sub-bachelor’s STEM job openings took longer to fill than non-STEM jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree. Healthcare and computer openings were advertised 23 and 15 days longer, on average, than openings for non-STEM occupations, such as those in office and administrative support.
Also, professional STEM vacancies take longer to fill now than before the recession, while vacancies for lower-skilled occupations remain much easier to fill.
In the Philadelphia metro area, in the first quarter of 2013, there were 28,725 STEM jobs advertised for an average of 33.8 days and an average salary of $59,014.
To read the report, Still Searching: Job Vacancies and STEM Skills, please go to bit.ly/1orDU5i [PDF].
Eds and Meds News
Vaccaro to Lead Rothman Institute
Alexander R. Vaccaro has been named president of the Rothman Institute and chairman of orthopedics for Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 13.
Vaccaro succeeds Todd J. Albert in both positions. Vaccaro was previously vice chairman of Rothman and of orthopedics at Thomas Jefferson.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1l97Jtt.
New Retail to Open Near John F. Collins Park
South Street Bagels, the popular bagel shop at 613 South Third Street, this fall will open a new location adjacent to John F. Collins Park, 1707 Chestnut Street, the food blog Foobooz reported on August 11.
Both the new bagel shop and the pocket park that is owned, managed, and programmed by the Center City District, are across the street from the former Daffy’s, which is to become Nordstrom Rack, 1700 Chestnut Street, scheduled to open Friday, October 24, at 9:00 a.m., Philly.com reported.
To read the Foobooz item, please go to bit.ly/Y1prEH.
To read the article on Nordstrom Rack’s opening, please go to bit.ly/1qNRYun.
PGCB Silent on Second Casino License
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has met eight times to debate the merits of the proposals for a second casino license for Philadelphia, but has still made no decision, PlanPhilly reported on July 31. Two contenders are in Center City: Market8 Casino at Eighth and Market Streets, from Market8 Associates; and The Provence at 400 North Broad Street, from Tower Entertainment.
The PGCB has not indicated when it will announce a decision, but the recently passed Commonwealth budget for fiscal year 2015 lists the $65 million licensing fee as an income source.
To read the PlanPhilly article, please go to bit.ly/1r2oaW9.
Convention Center Letter Addresses Issues With Unions
In an Open Letter dated August 5 and addressed to Pennsylvania Convention Center Stakeholders, the Philadelphia Convention Center Authority board and management addressed the events surrounding the newly implemented Customer Satisfaction Agreement and the two unions, the Carpenters and Teamsters, that did not sign it by the deadline.
The letter was signed by Gregory J. Fox, PCCA Chairman of the Board; John J. McNichol, PCCA President and CEO; and Bob McClintock, SMG COO and Senior Vice President - Convention Centers, the Convention Center’s management company.
The letter offered a brief introduction and a longer second part, “Setting the Record Straight,” subtitled “Teamsters Are Attempting to Re-Write History. The PA Convention Center Is Looking to the Future.” This portion of the letter was reprinted by the Philadelphia Business Journal.
To read the Philadelphia Business Journal article, which also includes comment from the unions, please go to bit.ly/1uiunCw.
Group to Host Three Annual Meetings at Convention Center
The Philadelphia-based American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has elected to host its 2015, 2019, and 2024 Annual Meetings at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, citing improvements in the work rules, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 7.
The 2015 Annual Meeting, to be held April 18-22, is expected to be attended by more than 18,500 people, with more than 30,000 hotel night books anticipated.
Projected numbers for the 2019 and 2024 Annual Meetings are not yet available.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1uwiSVb.
Residential Market News
Philadelphia Ranks High in Housing Affordability for Millennials
The Philadelphia metropolitan area was ranked the fifth most affordable housing market for millennials, according to a study by RealtyTrac published on July 30.
RealtyTrac set the median home price at $81,675 and calculated that $14.06% of median income would be spent on a house payment, based on estimated median income of $35,801.
From 2007 to 2013, the millennial population in Philadelphia increased by 25%, the second highest increase in the study.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1rLJpfE.
Renovation of The Lincoln Under Way
Renovation of The Lincoln apartment building at 12th and Locust Streets is under way, KYW reported on August 12.
Recently purchased by developer David Perlman, The Lincoln will be transformed into at least 40 high-end apartments. The work will include restoring the stability of the site, as it was severely damaged by fire eight years ago, the article noted.
A completion date has not been announced.
To read the article, please go to cbsloc.al/1oHp0oe.
SEPTA to Extend Late-Night Service
SEPTA on August 5 announced it would extend the current 24-hour weekend service on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines through November 2. SEPTA launched the pilot program on June 15, to accommodate demand for subway service among late-night riders on Fridays and Saturdays.
The pilot has been a big success with Broad Street and Market-Frankford Line ridership increasing by 50% or more during the extended service hours.
The pilot was originally scheduled to run through Labor Day weekend, with SEPTA evaluating factors such as ridership, security and overall performance. Extending the program into the fall – when college students come back and other riders resume normal routines – will provide the Authority with more complete information.
To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/1srvTPJ.
Project Will Connect Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-95
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission awarded a $142.9 million contract to PKF-Mark III Inc. of Newtown to build the first section of the $420 million Stage 1 of the new interchange that will provide an unbroken I-95 between Maine and Florida, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 12.
This initial project will widen and reconstruct about four miles of the turnpike in Bristol Township, where the connection with I-95 will be built, and will add three new turnpike bridges with piers for the flyover ramps for the connection.
Construction is to begin in late September or early October and will be completed in 2018.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1p340wE.
Study: More Bicycles Make Streets Safer
A University of Colorado Denver study examining collisions between bicycles and motorists found that bike safety significantly increases when there are more bikes on the road.
The threshold was 200 bicyclists passing through an intersection. With more than 200, the possibility of a collision with a car decreased dramatically, according to the study. The reasons for this remain undocumented, but one theory is that when drivers encounter a significant number of bicyclists on the street, they are more likely to be aware of their movements.
The study was co-authored by the university’s Bruce Janson, PhD, professor of civil engineering, and Krista Nordback, PhD, PE. It was published in the April edition of Accident Analysis & Prevention and is available upon request. To request a copy of the study, please contact David.Kelly@ucdenver.edu.
Highlighting “Green” Parking Garages
An article that is part of CityLab’s “The Future of Transportation” series surveys modern parking garages in Philadelphia, including The Lift at Juniper Street, considered one of the “greenest” parking lots in the city. The Lift at Juniper Street, which was developed by Brandywine, uses a robotic dolly to park cars and can accommodate twice as many cars as a traditional garage of the same size. Because the cars are lifted into position with their engines off, this reduces emissions, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1vy9mVQ.
Travel Advisory as Bridges Are Repaired
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) on Friday announced that Spring Garden Street traffic patterns will be altered and turn restrictions imposed today (August 18) through Friday, August 22, from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In addition, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive will be closed and detoured between Sweetbrier Street and Spring Garden Street on Monday, August 25, and Tuesday, August 26, from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning.
This work is part of PennDOT’s $6.6 million project to repair the adjoining bridges that carry Spring Garden Street over Interstate 76, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail. Crews will improve the two deteriorating bridges, one of which is structurally deficient, by replacing expansion joints, bridge bearings and pier caps; resurfacing the deck; improving drainage; painting structural steel; and replacing curb ramps. The plan also includes updating pavement markings and signing for pedestrians and bicyclists.
To read the advisory, please go to bit.ly/Rx1HEU and click on “Travel Restrictions Scheduled on Spring Garden Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.”
Parks and Open Space News
Artist-Designed Bike Racks New to CCD-Managed Parks
Two of the city’s new artist-designed bike racks have been installed at Center City District (CCD)-managed parks. Sister Cities Park, 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and Cret Park, 16th Street and the Parkway, are home to Ralph Tullie-designed Bike Cloud bike racks.
In summer 2013, the City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy in partnership with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia launched an open competition inviting artists and designers to create unique and creative bike racks for use throughout Philadelphia. The project was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The bike racks installed by CCD were among the first in the city. Other confirmed locations for additional designs include the Vesper boat house, City Hall, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Perelman Building, according to an article in PlanPhilly.
To see photos of the new bike racks in CCD-managed parks, please go to go to http://bit.ly/1oVDKFb.
To read a PlanPhilly article about the artist-designed bike rack program, please go to bit.ly/1hvxe5h.
Pier 53 Transformed Into Park
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) and Mayor Michael A. Nutter on August 15 opened the Washington Avenue Pier, the newest pier park on the Delaware River and the next step in the implementation of the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, the DRWC announced. The former Pier 53 formerly was the site of the city’s immigration station and the nation’s first Navy Yard.
Washington Avenue Pier was designed by Applied Ecological Services (AES) and built by AES and Neshaminy Contractors following several rounds of civic engagement. The pier serves as the northern anchor of a wetlands park and recreational trail system that will run south to Pier 68, another pier park currently under construction and expected to open in 2015.
Interesting features of the park include an on-grade path allowing visitors to reach the tip of the pier and touch the water, an elevated boardwalk allowing visitors to pass over wetland habitat below, and a 55-foot spire by artist Jody Pinto that allows visitors to climb a 16-foot spiral staircase to a platform that allows for views up and down the river.
For more information and to view photos, please go to bit.ly/1pRvVPS.
Philadelphia Schools to Open on Time
Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr. on Friday announced that the Philadelphia School District will open its schools on September 8, on schedule, even though the cigarette tax has not yet passed. Hite announced cuts in transportation for students, alternative programs for students at risk of dropping out, and, if the cigarette tax isn’t quickly passed, teacher and other staff layoffs possibly in October. To read the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, please go to bit.ly/1nWLTUK.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) on August 11 traveled to Philadelphia for a closed-door, hour-long talk with Hite and gave him assurances that he's going to do everything that he can within his power to get the $2-a-pack cigarette tax passed (bit.ly/1uCk0K3). However, lawmakers will not return for legislative session until September 15.
Helping to avert the school crisis, Governor Tom Corbett on August 6 authorized an advance of $265 million to the schools (bit.ly/1oPeZ8C).
Center City District Restaurant Week
The 2014 Fall Center City District Restaurant Week will take place September 7-12 and September 14-19, with more than 120 restaurants in Center City offering three-course dinners for only $35 per person and three-course lunches for $20.
Newcomers to this year’s lineup include the yet-to-open Abe Fisher — the brand-new spot from James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov — as well as Bank and Bourbon, Entrée BYOB, 4 Fathers, Mixto, and Stella Rossa.
You can make reservations and look up menus on the go with the Center City District Restaurant Week mobile site, and keep up with restaurant week events on Twitter @PhilaRestWeek.
For more information , please visit centercityphila.org/life/RestaurantWeek.php.
CPDC Meeting in September
The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) will hold its next general membership meeting on Tuesday, September 16, at 8:30 a.m. at the Union League, Meade Room, 140 South Broad Street.
The subject will be “What’s Next on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.”