Office Sector News
Cigna Renews Lease at Two Liberty Place
The Cigna Corporation has signed a 12-year lease for 322,000 square feet (SF) at Two Liberty Place, where its offices have been housed since 1990, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 14. Cigna’s new lease downsizes its office space from 450,000 SF. The company will relinquish the space it did not renew at the end of May 2016.
With Two Liberty Place 90% occupied, Parkway Properties Inc. of Orlando, Florida, owner of the property, likely will sell the building, the article suggested.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1fc7Jq0.
Former GlaxoSmithKline Property to be Redeveloped
PMC Property Group has closed on its $43 million acquisition of One Franklin Plaza, the former GlaxoSmithKline headquarters, and plans to redevelop the 24-story building at 200 North 16th Street into a mixed-use development, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 21.
Plans for One Franklin Tower, the building’s new name, call for converting floors 10 through 24 into apartments and retaining floors two through nine, about 200,000 square feet, as renovated office space with its own dedicated elevator lobby. Gensler has created the new design, which also will includes floor-to-ceiling glass windows for a more contemporary look.
A completion date was not announced.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1Jvxwrp (subscription only).
Recommendations for the Next Mayor
Jeremy Nowak, writing in The Philadelphia Citizen, offers advice for the next mayor and the governor on job growth, poverty reduction, pension reform and education, adding on this last point a message for Harrisburg: "In education politics Republicans want outcomes without funding and Democrats want funding without outcomes. If Wolf wants to rise above the typical fray, he will stand for both."
Nowak also closely links poverty reduction to tax reform and writes: "When it comes to taxes, we have a strong candidate for change on the table in the agenda set by the Philadelphia Coalition for Job Growth, philadelphiagrowthcoalition.com. A broad consensus exists for shifting the tax burden from those items that can relocate - people and firms - to those, like commercial and residential real estate, that cannot. The Growth Coalition is the best proposal for that position." To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1JdUO1J.
Growth for Manufacturing in August
Manufacturing activity in the region increased modestly in August, according to firms responding to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s August 2015 Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey, with new orders up for 31.7% of the firms, down for 25.9%, and remaining the same for 42.3%.
The number of employees increased for 21.1% of the companies, decreased for 15.8% and was unchanged for 63.1%.
Looking ahead six months, 55% of the responding firms anticipated an increase in business activity, 11.9% expected a decrease, and 30.4% predicted no change.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1Eam0jb.
Residential Market News
MultiFamily Market Robust in 2nd Quarter
Center City Philadelphia’s apartment vacancy rate declined from 6.5% in the second quarter of 2014 to 6.4% in the second quarter of 2015, with rental rates growing by 2.2% to $1,909 over the last 12 months, according to the MarketBeat MultiFamily Snapshot, produced by Cushman & Wakefield.
Philadelphia’s apartment vacancy rate is expected to tick up marginally to 3.5% by year-end 2015, due to the 2,416 new apartment units scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015.
New construction will continue over the next several years with an annual inventory growth rate of 1.8% over the next five years, accompanied by an anticipated annual rise in rental rates of 2.4% during the same time period, the report suggested.
Significant multifamily sales during 2015 included Icon 1616 for $112.5 million, The Versailles for $30 million, and The Roosevelt for $15.7 million.
To read the report, please go to http://bit.ly/1PMwsOT [PDF].
Second Target Express Announced
Target Corporation has announced a second location in Center City, a 19,000-square-foot Target Express expected to open in July 2016 on the 1100 block of Chestnut Streets, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 19.
Target will occupy the ground floor of the former Oppenheim Collins department store that has been rebuilt as part of the Brickstone project 1112-1128 Chestnut Street. The store will have a pharmacy and a Starbucks café.
Target previously announced that it would open a 21,000-square-foot store on two floors at 19th and Chestnut Streets, also in July 2016, near the proposed Boyd Theatre development.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1PBNZcy.
More New Retail on West Chestnut
The Shade Store, a New York-based window treatment maker, on Friday opened its first showroom in the Philadelphia area at 1725 Chestnut Street, adding variety to the burgeoning West Chestnut shopping district, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The company chose Center City for the launch because of the quality residential units being built, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1KAdWF2.
News About the Pope’s Visit
Mayor Michael A. Nutter on August 20 announced that the World Meeting of Families, partnering with the City and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has created a comprehensive guide, the Papal Playbook, for residents across the region, that will launch online today (Monday) at noon at worldmeeting2015.org/papalplaybook.
The mayor also announced that trash will be picked up on Thursday, September 24, but not on Friday, or Monday. Residents are asked to wait until the following week for trash pickup, but five convenience centers will have extended hours from September 24 through October 3 and will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. Residents can drop off up to 24 bags of trash and unlimited amounts of recycling.
The mayor also announced that taxis will be permitted in the “traffic box” until 2:00 a.m. Saturday, September 26, and can resume operations at 3:00 a.m. Monday, September 28, to help get people to and from the airports. The taxi fleet will include 27 ADA-accessible taxis.
To read the mayor’s press release, please go to bit.ly/1K9jWc2. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s article can be found at bit.ly/1JpozOz.
The City’s Department of Commerce on Monday, August 17, activated a Business Resource Center to provide information to Philadelphia businesses on how the World Meeting of Families and papal visit will impact their employees and operations.
The Center’s website, phila.gov/informationcenters/pope/, is updated regularly, and a hotline operates Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at 215-683-2100. Questions also can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. To read the mayor’s press release, please go to bit.ly/1hL4NCO.
City Council will reconvene on Thursday, September 10, but the meeting scheduled for Thursday, September 24, has been canceled.
Philly PHLASH, which moves to weekend-only service after Labor Day, will add special weekday service September 18 to 25 for the World Meeting of Families. Tickets are $2 per ride or $5 for a day.
Philly PHLASH will not run on Saturday, September 26, or Sunday, September 27, when the pope is visiting. The PHLASH will resume weekend-only service beginning Friday, October 2.
For more information, please visit phillyphlash.com.
SEPTA on Friday began offering customers the opportunity to purchase the 100,000 remaining One Day Regional Rail passes, in person, at most of the 18 suburban stations that will be open during the papal visit. The passes are $10 each and individuals can buy up to 10 passes for each day. Groups and organizations interested in bulk sales can email SEPTA at email@example.com. SEPTA also unveiled an updated service map that highlights morning arrival and afternoon departure stations. For more information, please go to septa.org/papalvisitphilly.
Sales will continue through September 24, or when the passes are sold out. To read the Philly.com article, please go to http://bit.ly/1UVM5Xo.
PennDOT and the World Family of Meetings announced on August 20 that motor coaches, school buses, mini-buses, RVs and large passenger vans will be permitted to drive on some restricted roads and off ramps, but only if they are registered through the Go Ground portal at wmof.goground.com/registration. Those who register will receive placards for certification, Philly.com reported, bit.ly/1h1dmIV.
Leisure Hotel Nights on the Rise
Philadelphia hotels have booked 416,617 room nights for leisure in the first half of 2015, a nearly 4% increase over the same period last year and the fastest growing segment of the hotel market, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on August 21.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1E8nb2d (subscription only).
SugarHouse Casino Expansion Advances
SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River celebrated a milestone in its $164 million expansion, with a topping off ceremony on August 13, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The expansion will increase casino floor space by 70%, and adds a multipurpose event space, 289 slot machines to the existing 1,604, and 610 parking spaces. The new addition is expected to be completed at year-end or later, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1J4vQyy.
Developers of Second Casino Present Plans
The Cordish Companies of Baltimore on August 18 made an “information only” presentation to the Philadelphia Planning Commission (PCC) of its plans for the city’s second casino, to be built in South Philadelphia near the sports stadiums, PlanPhilly reported. PCC must approve a master plan for the casino before construction can proceed.
The site also will need to be rezoned as a Special Purpose Entertainment district, but the developers would like to change the requirements of that zoning in order to reduce the amount of open space needed and the size of digital signs that are allowed, the article noted.
The casino is being designed by architects BLT of Philadelphia and Klai Juba Wald of Las Vegas.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1UVpp9t.
SEPTA Operating Budget for 2016
SEPTA’s Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) Operating Budget of $1.36 billion in expenses includes proposed enhancements to transportation service, according to the organization’s new report, Fiscal Year 2016 Assumptions & Consolidated Budget.
Passenger revenue is projected to increase by $2.2 million or 1.0% in FY16 and ridership is projected to increase slightly. Other income is expected to rise by 1.2%.
Expenses in FY16 are targeted at $1.36 billion, with Labor and Fringe Benefits the highest cost at $984,181,000.
SEPTA’s City Transit Division comprises 75 bus routes, two elevated lines, six trolley lines, and three trackless trolley lines.
In the five-year period, FY17 – FY21, operating revenues are expected to rise from $566,120,000 to $614,357,000; while expenses are projected to increase from $1,407,851,000 to $1,602,074,000.
Among SEPTA’s major accomplishments in FY15 was the completion of two new elevators connecting the north and south ends of Dilworth Park to the Upper Concourse, making the path between the park level and the 15th Street station platforms accessible, the report noted, along with the sale of naming rights for Jefferson Station, and the establishment of the SEPTA Key brand for new payment technology.
The Capital Budget is projected for FY16 at $534. 54 million, rising to $572.59 million in FY2020.
For complete details on the budget, please go to bit.ly/1Nom1zB [PDF].
In other news, SEPTA announced that General Manager Joseph M. Casey, who has led the Authority since 2008, would retire on September 30, after 34 years with the transit agency.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1UV7Pm9.
To read SEPTA’s press release, please go to bit.ly/1PmDoBz.
New Traffic Operations Center to Have Trial Run
Philadelphia's new Traffic Operations Center (TOC), which will house video monitors and computer terminals to enable controllers to see traffic problems in real time, is expected to undergo a trial launch on Labor Day weekend, Philly Voice reported on August 19. Live video streams from a network of 5,000 cameras owned by the City of Philadelphia, PennDOT, the Philadelphia Police Department, SEPTA and other agencies, will enable controllers to respond immediately.
The TOC is under construction in the Juniata neighborhood of North Philadelphia and is about 70% complete. The test will be conducted during the Made In America festival on September 5 and 6.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1LkHRH4.
Meeting to Discuss Washington Avenue
The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and the Streets Department have called a meeting for Thursday, September 3, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Rock School of Dance Education, 1101 South Broad Street.
Residents and businesses who have questions about the project or meeting can contact the Washington Avenue Safety Project at Washingtonavenue@phila.gov.
Parks and Open Space News
Music and Star Power Draws Crowd to Dilworth Park
On Monday, August 17, legendary musician Stevie Wonder hosted a press conference and performed a free mini-concert at Dilworth Park to announce his “Songs in The Key of Life” Tour this fall. The event was attended by several thousand people and was organized by LiveNation, CCD’s sponsor for concerts and music at Dilworth Park.
The event was widely covered by the press all along the East Coast. To read the Daily News coverage, please go to http://bit.ly/1fwHhYg.
City Council Studying Community Court’s Return
In a front page story on August 12, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported about a successful New York community court program visited by members of City Council that offers defendants drug treatment, mental health counseling, and GED classes instead of jail time, similar to the Community Court in Philadelphia that opened in 2002, after more than five years of planning led by the Center City District, and closed in 2011, due to lack of municipal funding. The New York trip was organized by City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.
Philadelphia’s court, which provided a venue for hearing a variety of quality-of-life crimes like aggressive panhandling, as well as low-level misdemeanors, heard more than 55,400 cases over six years and defendants completed more than 407,000 community service hours, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1EpfNdN.
Council Hearing on Gallery NID
City Council’s Rules Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, September 15, at 1:30 p.m., to hear testimony on Bill #150374, which would establish the Gallery Neighborhood Improvement District (NID), bounded by and including 11th Street to the West, Filbert Street to the North, 8th Street to the East and Market Street to the South, with the exception of condominium units at 801 Market Street Condominium. The purpose of the NID is to provide a financial mechanism to guarantee the proposed Gallery tax increment financing district.
To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/1FrqPmD.
Real Estate Transfer Tax Leads Strong Growth in Collections
Real Estate Transfer Tax in July was up 58.7% over the same month last year, surpassing projected growth for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) of 10.0% and contributing to an overall increase of $15.5 million (8.9%) over last July in the City of Philadelphia’s General Fund tax collections totaling $190.8 million in the first month of FY16, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.
Revenues for most other taxes were strong and showed year-over-year growth at or above the FY16 projected growth rate, including Wage and Earnings, up by $8.9 million, or 5.8%, compared to the projected 3.7%; and Business Income and Receipts, up by $1.2 million, or 30.1%, projected to be down by -2.7%.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1TYcbfc [PDF].
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 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 26, music will be provided by DJ Chillio Ortiz (Latin), and on September 2, DJ Master Rich (Carribbean).
Farmers’ Market at Dilworth Park – Every Wednesday through November 18, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., McCann’s Farm offers an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, from asparagus to blueberries to zucchini. PetAl Plants & Flowers 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 27 – Trinidelphia
September 3 – El Caribefunk
September 10 & 17 – De Tierra Caliente
Dog Days at Dilworth Park and Yappy Hours – On Wednesdays, August 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 the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society and learn more about TD Bank, the pet- friendly bank, sponsor of Yappy Hours. Then, Tuesday, August 25 to Thursday, August 27, 11:00 a.m. 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.
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 (BYO) 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 27, Nolan Kennedy will perform, and on September 3, Nelly’s Echo. Music is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
For more information, please visit sistercitiespark.org.