Toll Bros. Propose Development on Jewelers’ Row
A subsidiary of homebuilder Toll Bros., Toll Washington Square, has proposed an as-of-right 16-story building with 80 residential units with ground-floor commercial space at 702-710 Sansom Street in the heart of Jewelers’ Row. After granting the developer a building permit, L&I changed it to a conditional permit because the project had not been considered by the Civic Design Review Committee, mandatory for a project of its size, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, bit.ly/2b3RkoZ. A separate application was made to demolish the existing buildings by September 1, along with a contiguous property at 128 South Seventh Street, bit.ly/2b6RdcT. Toll Brothers has indicated a willingness to reproduce ground-floor retail storefronts similar in size to current storefronts, bit.ly/2bIvNkC.
The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia has been circulating a petition against the development, bit.ly/2b6RmwN.
Goldenberg Group Buys South Broad Parcel
The Goldenberg Group has purchased 512-520 South Broad Street (Broad and South Streets) for $10 million, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 8. The 46,359-square-foot building on the site is currently home to World Communications Charter School, which sold the parcel. The property is zoned for mixed use.
The property is near two hotels under development, Dranoff Properties' SLS Lux Hotel & Residences at Broad and Spruce Streets, and Pearl Properties’ Cambria Hotel at Broad and Locust Streets.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2bdqFbR.
Residential Market News
City House Prices Continue Dramatic Rise
House prices in Philadelphia increased by an average of 6.2% in the second quarter of 2016 and, combined with the 4.2% increase in the first quarter, created the first double-digit appreciation since the recession, according to Kevin C. Gillen, Senior Research Fellow with the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University, in a new report, Philadelphia Housing Report: Q2 2016, released on August 8. The median house price in the city rose to $145,000, a new all-time high.
Home sales were up 22% over the previous quarter, with 4,774 arms-length transactions. An inventory of 5,500 homes for sale was the lowest level since 2003. Average days on market dropped to 53 days, down from 80 in the same period last year.
House prices appreciated in every neighborhood, led by University City, (+15.0%). Center City/Fairmount (Gillen’s geography) was up by +3.4%; South Philadelphia, +4.2%; North Philadelphia, +11.7%; and West Philadelphia, +11.8%.
To read the report, please go bit.ly/1qntloS.
$500 Million Summer for Philadelphia
The Democratic National Convention (DNC), eight citywide conventions and major sporting events this summer created a combined economic impact of nearly $500 million, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 17.
During the week of the DNC, hotel occupancy was 97.6%, bringing in hotel room revenues of $22.9 million. The eight conventions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center generated an economic impact of $192.2 million and the 2016 Copa America Centenario’s three games brought $41 million to the city’s economy.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2aZPaZd.
CBRE Hotels Update: Excessive Supply Likely Not a Problem
In the August edition of CBRE Hotels’ national Hospitality Market Update, contributor Jack Corgel suggests three reasons why excessive supply growth is not likely to produce financial problems in most U.S. hotel markets, bit.ly/2b2QeH6.
A separate article notes that hotel investment activity in the second quarter was down 50% year-over-year, bit.ly/2b596Wf.
A third article discusses the 2015 changes made to the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI), the industry standard for reporting hotel revenues and expenses, bit.ly/2bMLlrz.
Eds and Meds News
Jefferson and Kennedy Health Systems Agree to Merge
Jefferson Health and Kennedy Health, based in Voorhees, New Jersey, on August 9 signed a binding agreement to merge the two health systems, expanding their existing clinical partnerships in orthopedics, neurology and, cancer care, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
Kennedy Health operates three hospitals in South Jersey along with a physician practice group, home care division and a network of outpatient care sites. It has 4,600 employees, 900 physicians, and generated revenues of $580 million in 2015.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2b8pKJn.
PA Supreme Court: SRC Can’t Cancel Teachers’ Contract
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on August 15 upheld a lower court’s decision that blocked the School Reform Commission's attempt to cancel the contract of teachers in the Philadelphia School District, first attempted in October 2014 to save $54 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ contract expired in 2013 and its 11,500 members, which include teachers, counselors, nurses, and secretaries, have continued working under the old contract. The two sides are expected to begin negotiations for a new contract. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2aVX6Wr. To read the Supreme Court decision, please go to bit.ly/2bkw2EH [PDF].
Seats Available for Free Preschool for September 2016
The School District of Philadelphia and its partners still have seats available in high quality pre-K programs for three- and four-year-olds for the 2016-17 school year.
Eligibility: Children must be at least three years old on or before September 1, 2016, and not be age-eligible for kindergarten; families must meet Head Start or Pre-K Counts income guidelines; children and parents/legal guardians must be residents of Philadelphia.
For options on how to apply or to download an application, please go to philasd.org/prek.
New Liquor Law Now in Effect
Pennsylvania’s new liquor law went into effect on Monday, August 8, enabling state stores to extend Sunday and holiday hours, more stores to open on Sundays, grocery stores and restaurants to apply to sell wine, and producers to ship directly to consumers, among other changes, the Associated Press reported. Many of the changes will be implemented after Labor Day.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2bJqAKf.
CPDC Transportation Survey 2016
With a downtown workforce of almost 300,000, a fast growing residential population, and a burgeoning hospitality, retail and restaurant environment, Center City is one of the most walkable and bikeable cities in the U.S. But success brings congestion, conflicts and the need for new approaches to management. The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation would like to hear about your experience as a user of the street, and what your top priorities would be for improvements. The survey is open until this Friday, August 26. To take the survey, please go to svy.mk/2b3B2OJ.
PCPC Approves Land Purchase for PHL
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission on August 17 authorized the $14 million acquisition of 20.8 acres adjacent to Philadelphia International Airport as part of the airport's long-range expansion plan, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The land is owned by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development. Money for the $14 million acquisition will come from fees paid by airlines, restaurants, concessions, and other airport vendors, not tax dollars, the article noted.
A multistory airport rental-car building is one possibility for the land, bounded by Island and Bartram Avenues and I-95.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2bI4OJW.
PennDOT’s I-676 Project on Schedule
Despite challenges caused by the pope’s visit, the Democratic National Convention and the Verizon strike, PennDOT’s four-year, $64.8 million project to rebuild seven bridges over I-676 and add streetscape improvements, which began in March 2015, is on schedule and expected to be completed on time in November 2019, Philadelphia magazine reported on August 15.
The first four bridges, 20th and 19th Streets, and two pedestrian bridges, will be completed during Stage 1, ending in June 2017. Stage 2 will address the last three, 18th, 21st and 22nd Streets.
For more information on the project, please go to bit.ly/1DEc92s. To view renderings, please go to bit.ly/2aX7bCE. To read the Philadelphia magazine article, please go to bit.ly/2aRam3A.
In related news, to accommodate work on the project, I-676 will be closed and detoured in both directions between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges today, Monday, August 22, through Thursday, August 25, from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning for overhead bridge construction, PennDOT announced on Thursday. For more information, please go to bridgesover676.com. For detours and other information, please go to 511PA.com.
Revenue Stable at SugarHouse Casino
Revenue in July, the first month of the new fiscal year, was similar to June’s at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
In July, the casino took in $25,063,501, compared to $25,071,043 in June. The Commonwealth’s share of taxes was $6,511,961, compared to $6,331,629 in June. The City of Philadelphia collected $817,015, compared to June’s $799,931.
To see all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/2bkEjIO.
Manufacturing Weak in August
Manufacturing activity in the region was anemic in August after a slight downward turn in July, according to firms responding to August’s Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey, conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, with new orders up for 27.0% of the companies, down for 34.2%, and remaining the same for 38.6%.
The number of full-time employees was static for more than two thirds, 67.4%, increased for 5.0%, and decreased for 25.0%.
Looking ahead six months, 53.9% anticipated business conditions to improve, while 8.1% expected business to worsen, and 28.9% responded they expected no change.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2b2mjoa.
U.S. Census Reports on Growth of IT Workers
The number of people working in information technology (IT) rose from 450,000 in 1970 (0.6% of the workforce) to 4.6 million in 2014 (2.9% of the workforce), reflecting the growth in computer use at home and in the workplace, according to a U.S. Census report, Occupations in Information Technology, issued on August 16. In 1984, 8.2% of households had a computer and, in 2014, 85.0% had a computer.
Software developers now make up 25% of the IT workforce (1.1 million workers), and over half (57%) of IT workers are between the ages of 25 and 44. Median earnings in the highest paid groups were $90,000 annually.
To read or download the 16-page report, please go to bit.ly/2bleQyM [PDF].
Report Examines City’s Business Tax Structure
A new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative examines Philadelphia’s business tax structure, noting that the city has the highest business taxes in the country and is the only large city to tax both gross income and net receipts, while carving out 21 place- or industry-specific tax exemptions, the most among the nation’s 30 largest cities.
The report notes the City does not regularly evaluate the impact of these carve-outs to determine if their benefits outweigh the revenue that is foregone.
To read the report, Philadelphia Business Taxes: Incentives and Exemptions, please go to bit.ly/2bsOqv8 [PDF].
City Issues RFP for Property Appraisals
The Office of Property Assessment (OPA) has issued an RFP for a commercial appraisal consultant to assist them in catching up with the city-wide appraisal process, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 10. According to an analysis by CCD, OPA’s almost exclusive focus on appeals in the last two years has resulted in only 11% of all tax parcels in the city experiencing an increased assessment in the 2016 valuation process. This has resulted in only a 0.1% proposed increase in the value of taxable real estate in the city and follows on reduction in value of 1.2% between 2014 and 2015, producing an overall reduction in value from 2014 to 2016 of 1.1% during one of the strongest real estate expansions in recent city history.
Responses to the RFP are due today, August 22, at 5:00 p.m.
For more information on Opportunity #21160726120936, please go to secure.phila.gov/eContract/. To read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s article, please go to bit.ly/2b4m1bz. In a parallel effort, the School District of Philadelphia has announced its intention to exercise its legal right to appeal applications for reduced assessments, given that the real estate tax is the District’s prime source of funding.
PPA Expanding Availability of meterUP App
The Philadelphia Parking Authority announced on August 9 that the meterUP app, which allows payment for parking via a mobile phone, will be available throughout the city by the end of September, as the six-month pilot program in Center City was highly successful, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
MeterUP has been in limited use since November at 267 parking kiosks and the app has been downloaded by 36,287 users who used their phones to pay for more than 90,000 parking sessions.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2aWL2rl.
Take the Survey: City Hall Courtyard Use
The City Hall Courtyard is the recipient of a Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community placemaking grant with technical assistance from Project for Public Spaces. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Philadelphia Water, the Department of Public Property, and the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia are conducting a brief survey about the Courtyard and ideas for improvements there. To take the survey, please go to svy.mk/2bbPC4D.
State Completes $1.2 Billion Bond Deal
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on August 10 borrowed $1.2 billion by selling general-obligation bonds at 2.75% to Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, and will begin funding some Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program projects that have been on hold for the last two years during successive budget cycles.
The bond sale was possible after the legislature adopted the 2016-17 budget and spending plan. The state plans to borrow another $2 billion this fall and again next year to finance public school construction and renovation, the article noted, bit.ly/2aHmMuF. Moody’s Investor Service upgraded the commonwealth’s financial outlook from negative to stable, Newsworks reported on August 15, bit.ly/2bfFvK0.
NYC to Implement Zones for Trash Collection
New York City will begin implementing a “zoned-collection” system for the city's private and largely unregulated trash-removal industry, Politico reported on August 16. In New York City, as in Philadelphia, the Department of Sanitation is responsible for residential waste collection, but private contractors collect trash from businesses, about 10,000 tons a night. Under the current system, a single city block can be serviced by more than a dozen different companies, resulting in a proliferation of dumpsters in alleyways. With the new system, the city will be divided into zones and contractors will bid on specific sectors and the consolidation of dumpsters becomes possible.
The DiBlasio Administration released its Private Carting Study on August 17. To read the article in Politico, please go to politi.co/2bayEEC. To read the study, please go to politi.co/2b1QwkF [PDF].
Parks and Open Space News
New Guide to Fairmount Park
The Fairmount Park Conservancy has released 50 Unique Experiences in Fairmount Park, a new guide to the park's activities, amenities, and key destinations for families, youth, and adults, categorized by type, season, and cost, PlanPhilly reported on August 15.
The creation of the guide was part of a larger creative place-making initiative, funded by a $3 million grant from ArtPlace America's Community Development Investment program. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2aVOrtp.
Dog Days and Yappy Hours at Dilworth Park
National Dog Day is in August and Dilworth Park is celebrating with TD Bank from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 30, through Thursday, September 1. Stop by the Dog Days at Dilworth booth each day to check out pet product retailers, ask questions of a professional trainer or learn how to adopt your own dog. Morris Animal Refuge, Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society and Red Paw Emergency Relief Team are partners.
From 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, August 31 through September 28, it's Yappy Hours! Pets and their owners are invited to the southern end of the park to join Friends of Center City and Dilworth Park for CCD Sips-priced cocktails, featuring $5 sangria, $4 wine and $3 beer. Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Brûlée Catering, Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society and Morris Animal Refuge are partners.
For additional information, please visit dilworthpark.org.
Save the Date: Center City District Restaurant Week
Center City District Restaurant Week will take place Sunday, September 11 – Friday, September 16, and Sunday, September 18 –Friday, September 23. Participating restaurants will offer three-course dinners for only $35 and three-course lunches for $20. To see the full list of restaurants and their menus, please go to CenterCityPhila.org/restaurantweek. On the site, you also can make easy online reservations through OpenTable and enter a contest to win 52 gift certificates from Center City restaurants. Keep up with all the news about Center City District Restaurant Week news on Twitter: @PhilaRestWeek.
Hearing on Bill That Would Establish Ninth Street BID
On Wednesday, September 7, at 10:00 a.m. in City Hall Room 400, City Council’s Rules Committee will hold a public hearing on Bill #160686 (bit.ly/2bDI8r3), which would create the South 9th Street Area Business District (S9SABD), a business improvement district (BID) that would stretch from Federal to Christian Streets with a narrow extension on the north side to Fitzwater Street. Councilman Mark Squilla introduced the bill on June 16, the same day Council passed Resolution #160704 (bit.ly/2b6UQw4), which provided a preliminary plan for the BID.
Primary functions of the new BID would be keeping the area clean and safe with more lighting and cameras; managing parking and installing wayfinding signs; and promoting the area with shopping and dining events. S9SABD is expected to have a first-year budget of $305,788. For more information, please go to south9thwashington.com.