Office Sector News
1515 Market Street To Be Sold
Accesso Partners of Hallandale Beach, Florida, has put the 20-story 1515 Market Street, immediately across from Dilworth Park, under agreement for approximately $85 million, or $170 a square foot, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 11.
The 502,000-square-foot building is 87% occupied, with Temple University occupying nearly 128,000 square feet under a lease that extends through June 2022. Other tenants include Sweeney & Sheehan, Heffler Radetich & Saitta and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The building has 15,189 square feet of retail space with Temple planning on opening its ground-floor bookstore shortly.
JLL is arranging the transaction.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1wUr5lw.
Occupancy Stable, Rental Rates Rising
Office occupancy in the third quarter of 2014 in Center City, which in this report includes University City, reached 37.5 million square feet with 388,000 square feet being absorbed, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank reported in its Philadelphia CBD Office Market Report 2014, 3rd Quarter.
Absorption for the year was positive in all classes of buildings, though Class B was negative in the third quarter, with 100,000 square feet becoming vacant.
Average asking rental rates were stable in the quarter at $26.75/SF, but Class A has moved from $29.12/SF to $29.86/SF. University City’s asking rental rates were $36.91/SF.
Transactions of note during the quarter included the Hill International relocation of its corporate headquarters to Center City from Marlton, N.J. Growth trends were ahead of Newmark’s beginning-of-year forecast with leasing activity brisk.
Manufacturing Strong in November
Responses to the Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing activity increased notably in November, according to the report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
General business activity in the region increased for 49.2% of the responding firms, decreased for only 8.5% and remained the same for 41.2%. New orders were up for 44.4% of the companies, down for 8.7%, and remained the same for 46.9%.
Almost two-thirds, 61.7%, of the firms reported a stable number of full-time employees, while 29.0% reported an increase in the number, and 6.6% reported a decrease.
Looking ahead six months, 59.4% indicated they anticipated growing business, with 1.7% expecting less, and 27.9% reporting they expected no change.
To read the report, please go to bit.ly/1zGpfrN [PDF].
PCPC Recommends Bill Enabling Hudson Hotel
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) voted unanimously on November 18 to recommend Bill #140858 that would allow a 12-story, $125 million Hudson Hotel to be built at 17th and Chancellor Streets on property currently occupied by a parking garage and Little Pete’s diner, PlanPhilly reported.
The bill, introduced on October 30 by City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, amends the zoning regulations for the block bounded by 16th, 17th, Chancellor, and St. James Streets to allow for the development to be built without going to the zoning board.
The hotel will contain 300 rooms and 40 executive suites and is being designed by DAS Architects. The penthouse floor will house a dining venue with panoramic city views, and two stories of luxury retail shops are planned. All parking spaces at the hotel will be underground.
The bill is scheduled for a hearing before Council’s Rules Committee on Tuesday, December 2, at 10:00 a.m.
The hotel is expected to open in 2016.
To read the PlanPhilly article, please go to bit.ly/11uVfmv.
To read Bill #140858, please go to bit.ly/10aCtQN.
Blatstein Unveils Plans for Broad and Washington
Developer Bart Blatstein on November 17 presented residents of neighborhoods around Broad Street and Washington Avenue his plans for the southwest corner of the block, the Passyunk Post reported.
Blatstein said that he is planning 210,000 square feet of retail, including a grocery store, restaurants, a bike shop and a large space for a retailer with its own dedicated parking area.
Blatstein plans to construct two residential towers in two separate phases that would rise 20 to 28 stories above the four-story retail. The number of units in each tower has not been decided, but could be between 500 and 800 units in each building, depending on market conditions, the article noted.
The developer anticipates beginning the project before June 2015.
To read the article and to see renderings presented at the Hawthorne Cultural Center meeting, please go to bit.ly/1F4XPPg.
Royal Theater Decision Delayed
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) asked for an additional 45 days to consider Bill #140857, introduced by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson on October 30, that would permit developer Carl Dranoff to transform the historic Royal Theater on South Street, which has been vacant and decaying since the 1970s, PlanPhilly reported. The project, in general, enjoys wide support from both the neighborhood and the PCPC.
Dranoff’s plan calls for the full restoration of the theater’s historic facade and the addition of 45 apartment units and 7,600 square feet of retail space facing South Street. It would include 20 parking spaces underground. The design is by JDavis Architects.
The PCPC requested the extra time so that the developer and nearby residents could resolve potential issues with the proposed development.
Johnson’s bill would change the zoning of the property to Commercial Mixed-Use and would exempt it from some parking and loading requirements.
To read the PlanPhilly article, please go to bit.ly/11m0Ewn.
To read Bill #140857, please go to bit.ly/1uL1kWs.
DRWC Changes Bylaws
At its October meeting, the board of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) voted to change its bylaws so that 10 of its members would be selected by the board, instead of having the majority of the board members appointed by the Mayor of Philadelphia, PlanPhilly reported on November 17.
The board also created an additional seat for the 15-member board, and the new seat will be dedicated to the Central Delaware Advocacy Group (CDAG), a coalition of civic associations whose boundaries include waterfront areas stretching from Pennsport to Port Richmond.
The change splits the board into two classes of directors. Six Class A directors will be appointed by the Mayor, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and CDAG, the article noted. Ten Class B directors, to be chosen by the board, must have expertise in one of a number of fields, including planning, design, development, landscape architecture, community relations, and fundraising, among others.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1zKi2Xz.
Reading Terminal Begins Delivery Service
Reading Terminal Market has partnered with Instacart, which provides same-day delivery service from grocery stores, and 32 of the Market’s merchants will offer selected items for delivery, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on November 11.
The plan for delivery will be implemented in two phases with the first phase limited to shelf-stable, non-customized, refrigerated products such as pre-packaged grocery items, fresh products and baked goods. The second phase will be launched at an unspecified time, and will include customized food, such as cooked foods and sandwiches.
For a list of participating merchants and to read the article, please go to bit.ly/1wui4zv.
Second Casino License Awarded
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on November 18 awarded the second and final Category 2 gaming license in the City of Philadelphia to The Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc. (owner of Parx Casino) for their proposed Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia project. The $425 million hotel, gaming and entertainment destination will be located on the site of the existing Stadium Holiday Inn at 900 Packer Avenue in South Philadelphia.
The new casino will include an approximately 200,000-square-foot facility with a casino floor featuring 2,000 slot machines and 125 table games; a 240-room boutique hotel; a new, approximately 2,500-space parking garage; local and nationally-recognized destination restaurants; and live entertainment venues, according to the companies’ press release.
The hotel casino will be accessible via Interstates 76 and 95.
Before operations can begin at the casino, the companies must pay a $50 million license fee to the Commonwealth for a slot machine license along with an additional $24.75 million fee for a Table Games certification, the PGCB’s press release noted.
The other three applicants were Tower Entertainment, LLC (The Provence) at 400 North Broad Street; Market East Associates, LP (Market8 Casino) at Eighth and Market Streets; and PHL Local Gaming, LLC (Casino Revolution) at 3333 South Front Street.
To read the PGCB release, please go to gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov/?pr=595.
To read the winning companies’ press release, please go to prn.to/1uFEKA7.
For the implications for other Center City sites, please see a story from The Philadelphia Inquirer at bit.ly/1vzl6Y6.
Revenue at SugarHouse Improves in October
Revenue at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River increased by more than $1.5 million in October over September, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
In October, the casino took in $21,989,036, compared to $20,398,471, in September. The Commonwealth’s share was $5,791,627 in October, compared to $5,445,818 the previous month. The City of Philadelphia received $724,280, compared to $676,069 in September.
To see all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/16izgf9.
Pope Francis to Visit City in 2015
Pope Francis will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015, the Philadelphia Daily News reported after the announcement was made at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on November 17.
The pope's three-day visit will cap the six-day gathering already slated for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which begins on September 22 and is expected to draw more than 2 million people to the city. Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting on September 26 and offer a public Mass on September 27, also on the Parkway.
More than 100 speakers are expected for the event, and registration is now open at worldmeeting2015.org.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1AutIB7.
Focus on Philadelphia’s Unique Culture
The December/January edition of National Geographic Traveler features a 10-page article spotlighting Philadelphia’s culture of makers and doers, inspired by the “PHL: Here for the Making” campaign launched by the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB).
The 10-page editorial celebrates the unique people of Philadelphia through profiles of 12 “Philadelphia Originals,” from restaurateurs and jewelry makers to mural artists and purveyors of local craft beers.
An extended guidebook will be published with the article along with additional information for international travelers. In early January, a guide will be available in eight languages – English, Chinese, Italian, French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese.
To see the 10-page article, please go to bit.ly/1qJfSI6 [PDF].
To view the guidebook, please go to bit.ly/1qJgtJB.
SEPTA Board Approves Contract
SEPTA's board of directors on November 20 unanimously approved the contract with Transport Workers Union Local 234, which represents 5,000 bus drivers, subway and trolley operators, cashiers, and mechanics, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The ratified agreement eliminates the possibility of a strike.
The pact, ratified this month by TWU members, provides a 5% raise over the two-year term of the contract, but does not address pension and healthcare issues, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/1uKOQOP.
In other SEPTA news, the agency is working on long range plans to place sheltered bike cages inside transit stops, and the first ones may go in the South Broad Street concourse, KYW reported on November 16.
SEPTA is working toward integrating bicycle infrastructure into the transportation system, as the number of bicyclists continue to grow.
(Please see Center City Reports: Bicycles, October 2014- centercityphila.org/docs/CCR14_bicycles.pdf.)
SEPTA’s counterpart transit agency in Boston, the MBTA, has created in-station “Pedal and Park” cages that are accessed with pre-registered swipe cards, the article noted.
To read the article, please go to cbsloc.al/1xE7uLR.
Help Plan for the Future of Bike Share
The City of Philadelphia is seeking to locate 100 potential bike share locations from which it will choose 60.
Bike Share is coming to Philadelphia in spring 2015, as a form of public transportation using a network of bicycles with dedicated docking stations to allow users to check out a bike from a station, take a quick trip, and return the bike to any station in the network. In the United States alone, more than 20 million bike share trips have been taken in over 30 cities.
There is still time to suggest downtown locations. Find more information about bike share, and see the initial bike share site recommendations at phila.gov/bikeshare.
If you would like to get more information on how bike share might benefit your employees or tenants, please contact bike share program managers Aaron Ritz at 215.686.9000 or 515.451.9727 or Aaron.email@example.com; or Cara Ferrentino at 215.686.9001 or Cara.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parks and Open Space News
Ice Skating in Dilworth Park
The all-new Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park opened to the public on Friday, November 14, and will remain open seven days a week through February 22, 2015.
Admission is $3 for children, ages 10 and under, and $4 for adults. Skate rental is $8. The Rothman Institute Ice Rink is open to the public Monday through Thursday, 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday, 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Rothman Institute Ice Rink will be open on all holidays with special holiday hours. A four-week Learn-to-Skate program is available on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. For details, please go to dilworthpark.org/rothmanicerink.
The Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park is operated and managed by Rink Management Services Corporation (RMSC) of Mechanicsville, Virginia. RMSC was competitively selected by the CCD and operates 33 ice rinks in 17 states and Washington, D.C. Center City District staff and RMSC have programmed a range of events at the rink that will offer entertainment and fun for people of all ages. Please visit dilworthpark.org/rothmanicerink for up-to-date information.
Rothman Rink also offers birthday party packages that include party space, skating admission and skate rental, as well as selections from Rosa Blanca Café, for groups of 10 or more. Group rates are available for other parties of 10 or more. For reservations, please email Groups@RinkManagement.com.
The Rothman Institute Ice Rink is the newest amenity at Dilworth Park at City Hall, which opened on September 4 with an 11,600-square-foot programmable fountain, tree groves, benches, and Iron Chef Jose Garces’ Rosa Blanca café with moveable chairs on the PNC Terrace. The 7,000-square-foot Albert M. Greenfield Lawn opened on October 24, and free Xfinity WiFi soon will be available in the park.
VISIT PHILADELPHIA™, PNC and 6abc (WPVI) have provided additional generous support for the Rothman Institute Ice Rink.
FrostFest at Sister Cities Park
FrostFest, the Center City District’s celebration of wintertime and holidays, comes to Sister Cities Park, 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, on three Saturdays in December – December 6, 13, and 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Come celebrate with music, family-friendly activities, free carriage rides around the park, ice-carving demonstrations, a chance to see Santa Claus, and sweet treats from Logan Square Café. Among other activities will be the Franklin Institute Traveling Science Show – Hot and Cold; Costume Carolers from Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Walnut Street Theatre; and crafts from the Philly Art Center.
In addition, there will be Coloring Sheets from Disney On Ice presents Frozen presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt, and a chance to win a family four-pack of tickets to the show at the Wells Fargo Center, December 25 through January 4.
All visitors also will receive a special discount coupon to the Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park.
For more information, please go to sistercitiespark.org. For a recent article about the evolution of the CCD into an organization that manages parks and that appeared in the newsletter of the International Downtown Association, please go to bit.ly/1xdh8ol.
City’s Recycling Rate Climbs
In 2008, Philadelphia households recycled 8% of their waste. On November 13, the City of Philadelphia announced that in 2014, the amount had increased to 21%, or nearly 128,000 tons, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The announcement was made at the new Dilworth Park, where approximately 12,000 square feet of granite pavement and 5,000 square feet of wall finish in the new concourse was recycled from the old Dilworth Plaza.
The national recycling rate is 34%, but that includes yard trimmings and other material that is composted, plus recycling efforts other than curbside programs, the article noted.
Philadelphia began weekly single-stream recycling in January 2009. For a list of recyclables, please go to philadelphiastreets.com/recycling.
To read the Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/1wUoiZH.
House Republican Majority Chooses Leadership Team
The House Republicans met on November 12 to reorganize their leadership for the 2015-2016 legislative session, and chose Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) as Speaker of the House, according to Capitol Recap, a subscription news service that covers legislative news.
Others elected were Representative Dave Reed (R., Indiana), Majority Leader; Representative Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster), Whip; Representative William Adolph (R., Delaware), Appropriations Chairman; Representative Sandra Major (R., Susquehanna), Caucus Chairman; Representative Kerry Benninghoff (R., Centre), Policy Committee Chairman; Representative Brian Ellis (R., Butler), Caucus Administrator; and Representative Donna Oberlander (R., Armstrong), Caucus Administrator.
Governor-Elect Wolf Names Transition Team
Pennsylvania Governor-Elect Tom Wolf announced a steering committee last week to help guide his administration’s transition process, the GPCC’s Weekly Report from City Hall and Harrisburg reported.
Named to the steering committee were Neal Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare PA; David Barasch, former U.S. Attorney in Harrisburg and Executive Deputy Secretary under Wolf as Revenue Secretary; Aradhna Oliphant, President and CEO of Leadership Pittsburgh; Mark Nordenberg, former Pittsburgh University Chancellor; State Representative Phyllis Mundy; Robert Brooks, Mayor of Murrysville, Westmoreland County; Julie Wollman, President of Edinboro University; Shanin Specter, of Kline & Specter, P.C. in Philadelphia; Carl Cooper, diversity consultant in Pittsburgh; Nilda Iris Ruiz, President & CEO of Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Inc.; and Joseph Meade, Director of Government and External Affairs for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
This steering committee will serve under Drexel University President John Fry, named earlier to chair the Governor-Elect’s transition, and will work with Chief of Staff Katie McGinty, the incoming governor’s first major appointment.
How Is Downtown Doing?
How is the Center City District doing? Please take a minute to complete our Customer Satisfaction Survey. You will be entered to win $250 in restaurant gift certificates. Also, please share this with young professionals. The survey can be found at howisdowntowndoing.com.
SEPTA’s 24th Annual Santa Express to Arrive at Dilworth Park
On Friday, November 28, at 10:30 a.m., Santa and his helpers will head to the newly renovated Dilworth Park at City Hall, where Santa will kick off the region’s holiday festivities with singing and skating on the Rothman Ice Rink.
Santa departs Frankford Transportation Center (Bridge Street Entrance) in a decorated train at 10:05 a.m., arriving at 15th Street Station at approximately 10:29 a.m.
Other trains that will join in are the Market Frankford Line, leaving 69th Street Transportation Center at 10 a.m., arriving at 15th Street Station at 10:25 a.m.; Broad Street Line, leaving Fern Rock at 10:04 a.m., arriving at City Hall Station at 10:29 a.m.; and a northbound train from AT&T Station at 10:16 a.m., arriving at City Hall Station at 10:27 a.m. In addition, the Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line will leave Elwyn Station at 9:47 a.m., arriving at Suburban Station at 10:30 a.m.; and the Warminster Regional Rail Line will leave Warminster Station at 9:39 a.m., arriving at Suburban Station at 10:29 a.m.
Riders can board at any station along the way. Complete schedule information and details are available online at: septa.org/events/santa.html.
Young passengers aboard each holiday themed train will receive a special gift bag filled with treats and goodies from partners that include Center City District, Free Library of Philadelphia, Macy’s, Herr’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, PHLASH, Rothman Institute, Philadelphia 76ers, Arden Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre and The Gallery.
CPDC Membership Meeting
The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation's Membership Meeting will be held Tuesday, December 16, at The Union League of Philadelphia, Grant Room, 140 South Broad Street, with Registration & Breakfast at 8:00 a.m., and program at 8:30 a.m.
The program will be “Linking Center City & University City: Can the Schuylkill River Be Like the Chicago River?”
With major development projects planned on both sides of the Schuylkill River, PennDOT scheduling bridge improvements and Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, and SEPTA undertaking a new master plan, there is a significant opportunity over the next five years to link Philadelphia's two largest employment nodes with seamless pedestrian connections surrounding a major regional transportation hub connected to the Northeast Corridor. Hear about the large-scale developments planned along the Schuylkill and what the possibilities are for improved connections.
Panelists will include Jeffrey DeVuono, Executive Vice President and Senior Managing Director, Brandywine Realty Trust; Keith Orris, Senior Vice President for Corporate Relations and Economic Development, Drexel University; Natalie Shieh, Project Director, 30th Street Station District Plan, Amtrak; and Jonathan Stavin, Executive Vice President, PMC Property Group.
Business casual attire is required, and please no denim.
CPDC members are encouraged to invite both young professionals and other members of their firms to attend this meeting. Please RSVP no later than December 10, to Carol Raffa, email@example.com or 215.440.5500.