Report on Globally Competitive Cities for Property Investment
New York and London topped the list for global cities with the largest volumes for all types of property investment in the last year, with London ranking first for office and hotel investment, Los Angeles at the top for industrial, Shanghai for development sites and Hong Kong for retail, according to Winning in Growth Cities, a new report from Cushman & Wakefield.
Philadelphia did not make the top 25 list for overall investment, but the region was ranked 24th for rate of growth in total investment in the last 12 months (increasing by 15.7%) and scoring 19th for retail-sector investment.
To download the report, which highlights factors that determine success, please go to tinyurl.com/9h4353c (requires registration).
City Seeks Developer for Family Court Building
The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) is advancing plans to redevelop the Family Court Building at 1801 Vine Street.
The 250,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1941 and is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. John Milner Architects recently completed a building documentation and assessment study for PIDC, which will inform a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), which PIDC will issue in late fall on behalf of the City.
The City is seeking an adaptive reuse of the building, which would take full advantage of its prominent location on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, near the Barnes Foundation, Rodin Museum, and Sister Cities Park. For more information on 1801 Vine Street, please contact Amanda Davis, Real Estate Manager, at 215.496.8184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mormon Temple Granted Conceptual Approval
The Philadelphia Art Commission on October 3 granted conceptual approval for plans for the new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple at 17th and Vine Streets, PlanPhilly reported.
The building is being designed by Perkins + Will architects and will have 60,000 square feet of space. It will be used for education and ceremonial events such as weddings but will not be utilized for regular worship.
While granting conceptual approval, the Commission did ask that the architects return and provide more details on the landscaping and sustainability aspects of the plan.
To read the PlanPhilly article, please go to tinyurl.com/9rfd7ak.
Grant Awarded to Spur Manufacturing
The Economic Development Administration, along with other federal partners, on October 9 awarded the Greater Philadelphia Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Skills Accelerator, a project of the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center (DVIRC), $1,892,000 to accelerate manufacturing innovation in Philadelphia.
The award was one of 10 public-private partnerships nationally that will receive a total of $20 million in awards to help revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States. The funds support efforts to spur job creation with initiatives such as connecting innovative small suppliers with large companies, linking research with start-ups that can commercialize new ideas, and training workers with skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities.
To read the press release, please go to tinyurl.com/8mfkyns.
Grand Opening for Hotel Monaco
The four-star Hotel Monaco celebrated its grand opening on Thursday, October 11. The 11-story hotel with 268 rooms is located in the former Lafayette Building, Fifth and Chestnut Streets, across the street from the Liberty Bell and Independence Park.
The 268 rooms, which include 17 suites, range from $159 to $499 a night. The Monaco also offers 14,000 square feet of meeting space, 3,200 square feet of ballroom space, street-side dining at the Red Owl Tavern, and the year-round Rooftop Lounge Stratus.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants developed the LEED-certified hotel for $89 million.
Eds and Meds News
Drexel Receives $10 Million Gift
Drexel University on October 4 announced a $10 million gift from Dana and David Dornsife to start a multifaceted community center in West Philadelphia.
The Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, between 35th and 36th Streets on the north side of Spring Garden Street near the Drexel campus, will direct resources from departments across the university toward solving quality-of-life issues in West Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Dana Dornsife is an alumna of Drexel, but now lives in California.
Arts and Culture News
Franklin Institute Wins $9 Million in Grants
The Franklin Institute on October 8 announced it has been awarded more than $9 million in federal grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The largest grant, $5.8 million from NSF for Climate and Urban Systems Partnership, funds a five-year, four-city project that aims to increase public understanding of global climate change and prepare the next generation of scientists and educators. Led by the Franklin Institute, the project will work through networks of community-based organizations in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
The other NSF grants also are aimed at education – for science festivals, afterschool programs and science and literature in early childhood learning.
The NASA grant for $799,546 funds City Skies, a project that will create a partnership between Franklin Institute astronomy programs and NASA to encourage interest in astronomy.
For complete information on the grants, please go to tinyurl.com/92ao8xw.
New Life for Roxy Theater
The Philadelphia Film Society (PFS) has arranged for a 16-year lease on the Roxy Theater, 2023 Sansom Street.
PFS, the nonprofit group that sponsors the Philadelphia Film Festival, will move into the theater on January 1, 2013, upgrade the seating and screens and add a digital projection system, while also keeping 35mm projectors to play classic films in classic format, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on October 10. In addition, the theater's façade will be renovated.
Meanwhile, the 21st Philadelphia Film Festival runs October 18 through October 28. To read the article, please go to tinyurl.com/8tcumpn. For complete information on the film festival, please go to filmadelphia.org/festival.
Amtrak Sets Another Ridership Record
Amtrak ridership was up 3.5% to 31,240,565 passengers during Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12), which ended September 30, Amtrak announced on October 10. It was the highest annual ridership since 1971 and the ninth ridership record set during the last 10 years. Ticket revenue was up 6.8% to $2.02 billion. On-time performance increased as well to 83% in FY12, rising from 78.1% in FY11.
Ridership in the Northeast Corridor was up 4.8% to a record 11.4 million. At 30th Street Station, the total annual Amtrak passenger count was 4,068,540, or a 5% increase over the previous year.
Amtrak attributed the increases to improved passenger services such as Wi-Fi and eTicketing, high gasoline prices, continued growth in business travel on the Northeast Corridor, and dissatisfaction with congested highways and air travel.
To read the press release, please go to tinyurl.com/9nvjn57 [PDF].
PATCO Cuts Back on Contactless Fare Cards
PATCO will end its credit/debit card pilot program on October 20, after a year of experimenting with using bank-issued contactless debit and credit cards for payment of rail fares because processing costs exceeded fares by more than 150%, PATCO reported. Contactless cards are equipped with a computer chip that communicates with a card-reader. PATCO will continue to issue its own contactless card for riders' use.
PATCO conducted the open-payment pilot program in conjunction with Cubic Transportation Systems of San Diego, California. As part of the pilot, Cubic upgraded the PATCO automated fare collection system to accept bank-issued, radio-enabled, credit and debit cards for contactless payments. Cubic will leave $800,000 in upgrades in place after the pilot concludes.
To read the press release, please go to tinyurl.com/9c7vtxt.
Meanwhile, SEPTA is working to implement its contactless "smart card" fare system, which is to go into use for subways, buses and trolleys next year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on October 9. SEPTA is paying $129.5 million to ACS Transport Solutions Group of Columbia, Maryland, to develop the system, the article noted. SEPTA will begin to test the system next summer with the card going into full use in the fall.
Four Garages Ordered Sold in Center City
The U.S. Department of Justice on September 26 announced that it would require Standard Parking Corporation and Central Parking Corporation to divest 107 parking facilities in the central business districts of 29 cities, including downtown Philadelphia, in order to proceed with Standard's acquisition of Central.
The department's Antitrust Division also filed a civil antitrust lawsuit on September 26 to block the proposed merger, but the proposed settlement would allow the sale and merger to close.
The garages to be sold in Center City are Central Facility CP11 at 1717 Arch Street, Central Facility CP13 at 1616 Sansom Street, Central Facility CP18 at 1815 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, and Central Facility CP23 at 1900 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
To read the Justice Department's press release, please go to tinyurl.com/8nmgyuy. To read the proposed settlement with a list of garages to be sold, please go to justice.gov/atr/cases/f287400/287422.pdf [PDF].
Home-Based Work Increasing
In 2010, an estimated 102,251 workers, or 3.8%, worked at home in the Philadelphia metro area, compared to an estimated 86,000 people, or 3.3% in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's newly released report, Home-Based Workers in the United States: 2010.
That compares to national figures of 13.4 million people, or 9.5%, in 2010, up from just over 11 million, or 7.8%, in 2005.
Professional and scientific industries, followed by educational services and healthcare industries, made up the largest share of home-based work in 2010, the report noted.
To read the report, please go to tinyurl.com/8jevzfs [PDF].
Parks and Open Space News
Groundbreaking for Skatepark
Franklin's Paine broke ground on Friday for its 2.5-acre skateboard park at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The $4.5 million skatepark along the Schuylkill Banks trail near Eakins Oval is expected to be completed by spring 2013. The park was designed by Anthony Bracali of Friday Architects/Planners.
Pop Up Garden Transformed Into Play Space
The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society's (PHS) Pop Up Garden officially closes today, October 15, with a ceremony that begins at 11:30 a.m. at the garden at 1905-15 Walnut Street.
The garden was being dismantled last week and PHS collaborated with the Public Workshop to create an interactive adventure playground as part of DesignPhiladelphia, which ran Wednesday through Sunday. Volunteers helped design and build the play space.
For more information, please go to tinyurl.com/8bp84n6.
Council Bill To Reauthorize Center City District
On October 11, Councilman Mark Squilla on behalf of City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, introduced Bill #120800, to reauthorize the Center City District's (CCD) operating plan for five years, 2013- 2017, to extend the life of the District to 2045 to enable refinancing and additional debt capacity, to reduce charges to residential owner-occupants by 50%, and to expand the CCD's boundaries to include the properties that front on South Broad Street between Pine and Lombard Streets. Following a public hearing in the summer, only two properties out of more than 1,550 registered any objection to the plan. The plan and budget can be downloaded at centercityphila.org/docs/CCDPlanBudget2013_17.pdf [PDF].
A date for a hearing on the bill has not been announced, but the CCD staff would welcome property owners and businesses available to testify in favor of the reauthorization. Please contact Linda Harris at 215-440-5546 to express your interest in testifying. To read the bill, please go to tinyurl.com/9n76rzr.
State Senate Passes Bill Key for AVI
The state Senate on October 3 gave final approval to SB1303, which allows the City to adjust the entire millage rate for property taxes for the School District and paves the way for the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), Mayor Nutter's initiative to overhaul Philadelphia's property taxes in 2014. New assessments on properties will be delivered to owners in early 2013, and with assessments set at 100% of market value, the millage rate will be adjusted downward.
The Urban Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives will hold a hearing on the bill today at noon. To read SB1303, sponsored by Senator Anthony H. Williams (D., Philadelphia), please go to tinyurl.com/9v6qd8o [PDF].
Low-Interest Financing for Energy-Efficient Upgrades
The City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) are offering the EnergyWorks Loan Fund to provide financing to support energy efficiency retrofits projects for businesses and non-profit organizations. EnergyWorks provides low-interest financing to support energy-efficient building retrofits and energy-efficient roofs, windows, and insulation; HVAC; lighting; and plumbing.
For more information, please go to tinyurl.com/96vpeez [PDF], or contact Susan Lowry at 215-496-8161 or email@example.com.
Sales Tax Collection Strongest Since 2008
General Fund tax collections in the City of Philadelphia in September were $148.0 million, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA). Collections through the first three months of Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) were $450.5 million, an increase of 1.0% compared to the same period in FY12.
Wage and earnings tax collection was $119.6 million in September, an increase of $9.3 million (8.4%) from September 2011. Total FY13 collections through September for these taxes were $375.9 million, an increase of 3.0% compared to the same period in FY12.
Sales tax collections through September were $65.2 million, an increase of 5.9% compared to the same period last fiscal year, the strongest result since the third quarter of FY08.
Real estate transfer tax collected in the first quarter of FY13 was $31.7 million, down from $36 million in the same period of the previous fiscal year, an 11.9% decline.
To read the full report, please go to tinyurl.com/97sxg7z [PDF].
Wednesday Fair Will Offer Information on Schools
The first annual School Fair will take place on Wednesday, October 17, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Ethical Society of Philadelphia, 1906 Rittenhouse Square.
The School Fair is designed to help parents who want to raise and educate their children in Center City research elementary school options.
Representatives from public, charter, parochial and private schools will be available to answer parents' questions and provide literature about their schools as well as pertinent enrollment information. The fair was organized by the Center City Residents Association (CCRA), Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), and South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA).
Council Hearing on Local Hiring
City Council's Committee on Finance will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, October 17, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 400 of City Hall to hear testimony on Bills #120008 and 120009.
Both bills were introduced by Councilman Bill Green on January 26. Bill #12008 would require that jobs created by government-funded projects and other resources owned or controlled by the City employ available residents in preference to non-resident workers in an effort to reduce the city's unemployment rate. The companion Bill #120009 would require the creation of a registry of eligible workers who could fulfill the requirements of the local-hire requirement.
To read Bill #120008, please go to tinyurl.com/9v6az74 [PDF]. To read Bill #120009, please go to tinyurl.com/8z5tgsd [PDF].
Animating Public Spaces
On Friday, November 1, ULI Philadelphia will present "Innovative Placemaking: Adding Value to Your Communities" from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia, 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 320. Breakfast is included.
Panelists will be Claire Laver, Executive Director, Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund; and Nate Hommel, Capital Projects Manager, University City District. Story K. Bellows, Civic Innovator, Office of the Mayor, will moderate.
To register, please go to tinyurl.com/9m4okbr.
Forum on Housing and Smart Growth
The Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance (DVSGA) will present its Fall Forum, "American Dream or American Nightmare: Housing after the Great Recession," on Thursday, November 8, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at the PECO Building, 2301 Market Street.
To register, please go to tinyurl.com/9vx3s6o.
Design on the Delaware Coming in November
The Design on the Delaware 2012 Conference & Trade Show begins at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday, November 14, and continues until 6:30 p.m. on Friday, November 16, at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel, 17th and Race Streets.
This year's conference features programs on high performance buildings, green schools, practice-management issues, stormwater management, community planning in Philadelphia, the suburbs and New Jersey, tours of new and restored buildings and landscapes, and a design charrette.
Keynote speakers will be Carlo Ratti, Architect, Engineer, Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and director of Senseable City Lab; Alan Berger, Landscape Architect, Associate Professor of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, and founding director of MIT's P-REX Lab; Carol Franklin, founding principal of Andropogon Associates, Ltd., and Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects; and Jonathan Rose, founder and President, Jonathan Rose Companies LLC, a multi-disciplinary real estate development, planning, consulting and investment firm, and a leading green urban solutions provider.
Cost ranges from $190 to $340. Registration is required. For more information or to register, please go to designonthedelaware.com.