Office Sector News
The Independent Economy’s Impact on Office Space
The independent, freelance economy that is finding its office space in newly popular coworking spaces is not being led by millennials but by workers at least a decade older, with 48 as the median age of self-employed workers in Center City, and 47, citywide, according to a new report released on September 29 by the CCD/CPDC.
The report, Philadelphia’s Independent Economy: Implications for Office Space, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census information and surveys conducted by CCD, found that an even more important source of demand for coworking space comes from small firms and from companies without offices in the city. Coworking spaces serve as a base of operations for small firms, as incubators for start-up firms that may move into more traditional space and a location for out-of-town companies not ready to commit to long leases.
While a new, attention-grabbing trend, the reality is that less than 1% of Philadelphia’s 43 million square feet of office space is occupied as coworking space. But the diversity of services offered by different spaces and the mix of occupants creates a new opportunity for developers to find work-related uses for upper floors of older buildings.
The report was made possible by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation. To read the report, please go to centercityphila.org/IndyEcon/.
New Lights for Lits Building
The Lits Building on Market Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets has new lighting, including 484 color-changing LEDs illuminating the building’s hundreds of windows, and 19 spotlights providing light for the columns. To read KYW’s coverage of Brickstone’s illumination of the building, please go to cbsloc.al/1LAC53g.
Philadelphia’s Deep Poverty Rate Highest of 10 Largest U.S. Cities
Philadelphia’s deep poverty rate stands at 12.3%. For a family of four, the measure is an annual income of $12,000; 186,000 people, 60,000 of whom are children, fall into this category, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on September 30. By comparison, based on U.S. Census data for 2014, the U.S. deep poverty rate is 6.8%. Philadelphia also is the poorest of America’s 10 largest cities, with 26% living below the poverty line.
Philadelphia has a greater number of people with low educational attainment compared with other cities and an inadequate number of jobs, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1L3VusG.
Brickstone Closes on Hale Building
Brickstone on September 30 completed its purchase of the seven-story Hale Building at 1326 Chestnut Street, on the southwest corner of Juniper and Chestnut, for $5 million and plans to renovate the 128-year-old building, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Brickstone plans to include creative-economy office space on the upper floors and the ground floor will be divided between two restaurants.
The ornate building was designed by Willis G. Hale, who also was the architect for the Divine Lorraine Hotel building.
The redevelopment will continue the resurgence of East Chestnut Street and reinforce connections to both 13th Street and South Broad.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1O8Tm3U.
Liberty Property Trust to Develop Camden Riverfront
Liberty Property Trust plans to invest $1 billion along the Delaware River in Camden and has enlisted Robert A. M. Stern Architects to come up with a master plan for a mixed-use community with 1.7 million square feet of office space in four to five buildings, four parking garages, a hotel with 120 to 140 rooms, 325 apartments, restaurants, retail and green space, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 24. Dranoff Properties will construct the multifamily component.
Liberty would like to break ground during the third quarter of 2016 and complete the project in four to five years, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1L93bQq.
Developers Change Hotel Brand
Chancellor Hotel Associates, the developers planning to build a $125 million hotel at 17th and Chancellor Streets, have changed the brand from the Hudson to Hyatt's boutique Centric brand, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on September 30.
Hyatt debuted the Centric brand in January and currently has them in the Loop district of Chicago and Miami's South Beach, the article noted.
The new hotel brand was revealed in testimony before City Council’s Rules Committee, which approved the changes needed for the development (Bill #140858). The bill now goes to the full Council. The Center City Residents Association (CCRA) voted earlier this year to not oppose the construction.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1O8e99g. To read Bill #140858, please go to bit.ly/1N7JZAV.
Council Hearing on Gallery NID
City Council’s Rules Committee will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, October 21, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 400, City Hall, to hear testimony on Bill #150374, which would establish the Gallery Neighborhood Improvement District (NID). The purpose of the NID is to provide a financial mechanism to guarantee the proposed Gallery tax increment financing district, and would designate the Gallery Neighborhood Improvement District Corporation, a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation, as the Neighborhood Improvement District Management Association for the District.
To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/1FrqPmD.
Residential Market News
Shirt Corner Apartments to Open
Alterra Property Group has completed the $22 million Shirt Corner multifamily development at Third and Market Streets, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 29.
The five-story building has 59 apartments, half of which are leased, and retail space, including a drug store on the street level. The developer pays homage to the original Shirt Corner with several creative motifs that use the red, white and blue of the store’s iconic facade.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1MDU8US.
Class A Apartment Market Strong in Third Quarter
Class A apartments in Philadelphia had a 2.0% vacancy rate in the third quarter of 2015, compared to 3.6% during the same period last year, according to Delta Associates’ State of the Philadelphia Class A Market Report, Third Quarter 2015 (subscription only). The suburban vacancy rate fell from 2.4% last year to 2.1% in 2015’s third quarter.
Rents in Center City high-rises averaged $2,248 ($2.45 per SF) compared to $1,514 ($1.50 per SF) in suburban low-rise apartments. For the 12 months ending September 2015, Center City rents were up 3.6%.
Delta Associates counts 4,380 apartment units under construction in the city that are planned for delivery in the next 36 months and suggests that vacancy will edge up slightly and rent growth likely stabilize over the next 24 months, with the outlook for Center City to remain a healthy market.
Robust Population Growth in the CBD
Population growth in the central business district (CBD), defined by JLL as Center City and University City, has increased by 14.3% between 2000 and 2015, while Philadelphia outside the CBD has increased 0.3% and the Pennsylvania suburbs have grown by 8.0% during the same period, according to JLL’s Chart of the Week for September 28.
The combined Center City/University CIty population is now 236,964, the chart noted.
To view the chart, please go to bit.ly/1MnTEDp.
Eds and Meds News
Drexel Receives Gift for School of Public Health
David and Dana Dornsife have made a $45 million gift to Drexel University for its School of Public Health, which will be renamed the Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on September 30.
Drexel plans to use the $45 million gift to create three endowed professorships and four endowed scholarships for graduate students, and expand Drexel’s global public health program, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1JGXLVh.
Nashville Company to Develop uCity Square
Southern Land Company of Nashville has been chosen as the developer for the previously announced uCity Square, a $1 billion expansion and rebranding of the University City Science Center, in collaboration with Wexford Science & Technology, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on October 2.
Design work should begin in the near future for a 300-unit, multi-story apartment building at 3700 Lancaster Avenue, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1QPButP.
Urgent Care Center Opens in Academy House
MyDoc Urgent Care opened on September 22 in the ground floor of the Academy House, 1420 Locust Street. The clinic is equipped to treat non-life-threatening illnesses.
Staff will be hosting open houses on October, 2, 7, 9, 16, 23 and 30, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
For regular hours and more information, please go to mydocuc.com.
Reading Terminal Market Adding Improvements on Filbert Street
The Reading Terminal Market will shut down the 1100 block of Filbert Street on October 10, 24 and 31, as it transforms the area into a more usable space for events and performances, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on October 2.
The Market in July received an $160,000 ArtPlace America grant and is in the process of creating a “community-driven design” for the new space, the article noted. New lighting already has been installed on the block and more is expected.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1j5Q3PR.
PCPC to Consider New Casino’s Master Plan
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) will hold a special meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, October 6, at 1:30 p.m. at 1515 Arch Street, 13th Floor, to review and take action on plans for the Live! Hotel and Casino master plan for the proposed site around the current Holiday Inn, 900 Packer Avenue (at Darien Street), near the stadiums, I-95 and the Walt Whitman Bridge.
The $400 million project as proposed by Greenwood Racing Inc. would be open 24 hours, seven days a week, and would include 2,000 slot machines and 125 table games in a 200,000-square-foot-building, plus a renovated hotel with 220 rooms.
To learn more about the proposed casino, please go to bit.ly/1WC81Yr.
Arts and Culture News
Free Library Chooses ‘One Book’ for Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia has selected Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier, for its 2016 One Book, One Philadelphia, KYW reported on October 1. A companion book selection is 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northrop.
Libraries will be stocked with the books in hard copy, e-book and audio book form and more than 100 events are planned, beginning February 2, 2016, and continuing through March 30, 2016.
To read the article, please go to cbsloc.al/1KVjA5z. For more information, please visit freelibrary.org/onebook.
Heritage Days in Paris Create a Bond With the City
Once a year, during Heritage Days in Paris, thousands of sites, from palaces to famous bakeries to avant-garde housing projects to radio stations and machines that wash Metro trains, open to the public and offer residents and visitors access to the many pieces of the urban landscape that are usually inaccessible, writes Henry Grabar in the September 29 issue of Slate. This year 17,000 sites opened, most for free, and drew 12 million participants, one-fifth of France’s population.
The event is an informal citywide event that has no chief sponsor, no passes, and no economic justification, but promotes a sense of belonging to the city, the author notes.
To read the article, please go to slate.me/1JAIwNP.
Philadelphia Fillmore Opens
Daryl Hall and John Oates headlined the sold-out October 1st opening night at the Philadelphia Fillmore in Fishtown, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The Fillmore has an exposed-brick industrial chic look and is part of a 141,000 square-foot, $31 million complex that includes a 2,500-seat concert hall with a 48-foot-wide stage, a smaller 450-seat venue, and eventually also will have an Italian restaurant, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1LYYJlY.
Two Bridges Over I-676 Closed
The 19th Street bridge and the Free Library pedestrian bridge over I-676 were closed on October 1 to resume construction on the $64.8 million project to replace seven structurally deficient bridges over I-676, PennDOT announced. Construction was suspended on September 1, due to the World Meeting of Families and Papal visit.
In addition, I-676 will be closed in both directions at night between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges tonight (9/5) through Thursday (9/8), to set 13 steel beams for the new pedestrian bridge between 18th and 19th Streets.
For more information on the project and detours, please visit bridgesover676.com.
Streetscape Improvements Added to Market Street Bridge
The Market Street Bridge has been enhanced with 120 custom, lightweight planters; bleacher seating that offers optimal views of the Schuylkill River; and four large gateway pergolas positioned at the main points of entry, through the cooperation of a partnership among University City District (UCD), Center City District (CCD), the Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC), and the design group Groundswell.
The improvements were made possible in part by grants to the UCD by the William Penn Foundation and the Joanna McNeil Trust.
To read the announcement with photos, please go to bit.ly/1LPz1jT. To view a time-lapsed video of before and after the improvements, please go to bit.ly/1OGCbbg.
Frontier Airlines Will Begin Daily Nonstops to Denver
Frontier Airlines will begin daily nonstop flights to Denver from Philadelphia International Airport, beginning March 17, 2016, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Friday.
Flights from Philadelphia will depart at 6:45 a.m., and arrive in Denver at 9:05 a.m. Philadelphia-bound flights will leave Denver at 4:45 p.m., and arrive in Philadelphia at 10:04 p.m.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1P9vrSN.
Parks and Open Space News
DRWC Opens Third Pier Park
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC)on October 1 opened its third permanent waterfront park, Pier 68, adjacent to Pier 70 (approximately Morris Street and South Columbus Boulevard in Pennsport), where Home Depot and WalMart have big-box stores, Philly.com reported.
Designed by Studio │Bryan Hanes, the half-acre landscaped park offers seating, picnic tables, and places to fish and to view the wetlands. The $1.8 million project was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the William Penn Foundation, the City of Philadelphia, the Department of Community and Economic Development, WalMart and Wells Fargo.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1PSUqHZ.
To learn more about the park, please go to delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/pier-68.
Activities at CCD Parks
A variety of activities are ongoing at CCD’s four parks. For complete information, please go to ccdparks.org.
AVI Challenges Overloading OPA
A new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts notes that the number of challenges under the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) far exceeded city officials’ expectations: Owners of 10.3% of the city’s real estate—59,627 properties in all—sought review and/or subsequent appeal, claiming their new assessments were unfair or inaccurate. This was at least 20 times the number in a normal year before AVI took effect. As of May 2015, assessments had been changed for 17,270 of those properties and reduced in nearly all of the cases. More than 2,000 appeals were still pending with the city’s Board of Revision of Taxes in the spring of 2015. The net effect of the reviews and appeals has been a reduction in Philadelphia’s progress on its property tax overhaul, considered essential to any broader efforts to achieve tax reform.
The City essentially has spent the past two years adjusting the first round of AVI valuations through first level reviews, appeals, and targeted reassessments. Because this process has tied up the staff and resources of the entire assessment system, OPA has not been routinely reassessing properties whose values have gone up and does not expect to complete a new, comprehensive, citywide revaluation until 2017—a task that officials had originally planned to perform annually.
To read September 2015’s Pew report on AVI, please go to bit.ly/1L95PDG.
Governor Wolf Vetoes Spending Plan
Governor Tom Wolf on September 29 vetoed the $11 billion interim spending plan sent to him by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, all but ensuring the state will enter a fourth month without a budget, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The veto was expected, but it means the two sides have no backup plan during the impasse to fund schools, counties, and social-services providers that rely on state aid, the article noted.
The stalemate has forced at least 17 school districts and two intermediate units to borrow $346 million to stay open.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1MH9jN2.
Tonight! Free Lecture Focuses on Ecodesign
Tonight, Monday, October 5, at 6:00 p.m., at University of Pennsylvania School of Design's Meyerson Hall, 210 South 34th Street, Larry Beasley, Distinguished Practice Professor of Planning at the University of British Columbia and Founding Principal, Beasley and Associates; and Jonathan Barnett, Emeritus Professor of Practice, PennDesign, will give a free lecture and present their book, Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs.
In their book, Barnett and Beasley seek to demonstrate that ecodesign can help adapt the built environment to both a changing climate and a rapidly growing world.
For more information about the event, please go to bit.ly/1KP67Bs.
Corridor Realities – Taking It to the Streets
On Tuesday, October 13, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the Center for Architecture, 1216 Arch Street, an experienced panel representing Philadelphia and New York City will share lessons learned about navigating the complex infrastructure and ownership of city streets to transform corridor streetscapes.
Panelists and their topics will be Paul R. Levy, Center City District, Deconstructing the Streetscape; Giana Lawrence, Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Good Design Is Good Business; Renee Gilinger, East Passyunk Avenue BID, and Curt Alexander, Urban Jungle, Adventures in Urban Planting; Rosamond Fletcher and Chat Travieso, Design Trust for Public Space; and Neil Gagliardi, NYC Department of Transportation, Under the Elevated - Reclaiming and Transforming the Public Space Under New York City's Elevated Transit Infrastructure from Pop-up, to Pilot, to Permanent.
The event is presented by the Community Design Collaborative and the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. Light refreshments will be provided.
Tickets are $5 and $10. For more information, please visit cdesignc.org/events/streetscapes.