News

Center City News Update - 04.18.17

Development News

Tax Abatement Report Updates Value to City
An updated analysis of the City’s 10-year tax abatement program, prepared by Kevin C. Gillen, commissioned by the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia and released in late March, shows that citywide, nearly 20,000 properties have taken advantage of the program, with 15,607 properties in Philadelphia currently under the abatement. The total assessed value of all abated properties in the city is $12.2 billion, or approximately 11% of the city’s total.

The City is currently gaining an additional $48.1 million in annual real estate tax revenues from properties with expired abatements. By 2026, after all current abatements expire, the City should see an additional $169.4 million in annual real estate tax revenues.

The report also noted that since the abatement began, real estate development in Philadelphia has increased by 376%, while construction in the suburbs fell by 11.25%.

To read the press release, please go to mwne.ws/2p1xNhi. To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2puTlz4 [PDF].

Development at Edge of Chinatown
A 160,000-square-foot office building for legal-aid organizations, to be called the Equal Justice Center, will be developed on a 3.2-acre lot owned by the City and bounded by Race Street and the Vine Street Expressway, between Eighth and Ninth Streets, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 11.

Philadelphia-based developer Pennrose will lead a team that includes the Philadelphia Bar Foundation to develop the project that will house dozens of legal-aid agencies, an 11-story, 150-unit apartment tower; 55 units of affordable senior housing; a 147-room Comfort Inn hotel; and a 143-spot parking lot. Ground-floor retail is planned throughout the complex, designed by WRT.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority's board must approve the selection of Pennrose before the sale can take place.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2onrljd.

Bill Would Require More Information from Developers
Councilwoman Cherelle Parker on April 6 introduced Bill #170335 that would require developers to provide a “Project Information Form” with expanded details of plans, including apprenticeships, and estimated number of full-time jobs created during the construction period, and further notification requirements for City Council, neighborhood groups and Civic Design Reviews, PlanPhilly reported.

Development projects of three or fewer housing units would be exempt.
To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2orOyyT. To read the bill, please go to bit.ly/2oa6i0J.

Residential Market News

Survey: Preference for Renting Increasing
A survey commissioned by Freddie Mac compiled information from 1,282 renters in urban, suburban, and rural markets, and included millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, and found that in considering their next home, the percentage who plan to rent rose from 55% to 59%. Meanwhile, the percentage of renters who expect to own has dropped from 45% to 41% since September 2016, and the number of renters who say they're working toward homeownership fell from 21% to 15%. To read about the survey as reported in Multifamily Executive, please go to bit.ly/2oYhDVP.

The CCD/CPDC 2017 Housing Report: Building on Optimism notes that Center City is a beneficiary of the trending national preference for rentals and provides in-depth information and analysis of the multifamily housing market in Greater Center City. To download the report, please go to bit.ly/2oHmV7p [PDF].

Multi-Housing News reports that while demand for apartments remains strong in Philadelphia, there is some uncertainty about whether there will be enough jobs to justify the deluge of new supply, but they anticipate rents will rise by 3.4% in 2017, bit.ly/2p3qiGH.

Meanwhile, Delta Associates reports that demand for quality rental apartments in Philadelphia remains strong, with absorption increasing more than twofold over the year, to 1,585 units compared to 761 units the prior year, while rents in the 12-month period ending March 2017 were unchanged, according to the Delta Associates 2017 Q1, City of Philadelphia report.

New construction activity has slowed since this time last year – only four construction starts occurred in the past 12 months, with no projects starting construction in the first quarter.

Millennials Find Home Ownership Has Positive Financial Impact
A survey conducted by Bank of America in January found that four out of five millennial homeowners reported that buying a home had a positive impact on their long-term financial picture, and 68% said they intend to use the house as a “steppingstone” to a more permanent home. The online survey polled 4,906 adults.

The survey indicated that 86% of millennial homeowners found that owning was more affordable than renting; while 45% who rent believed renting is less expensive. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2oDXALr (requires registration).

Hospitality News

NFL Draft Updates
The City of Philadelphia began parking restrictions and street closures on April 10 in preparation for the National Football League (NFL) Draft that will take place along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Thursday, April 27, through Saturday, April 29, with approximately 200,000 fans expected to participate, Billy Penn reported. The online news site provides a guide to the various phases of closures and dates when they will occur, plus information about changes in bus routes. To read the Billy Penn article, please go to bit.ly/2p3vrhU.

Mayor Jim Kenney on April 7 released a guide for businesses operating during the event, bit.ly/2ozptnA.

Some international flags along the Parkway are being temporarily removed to accommodate banners representing the league’s 32 teams, bit.ly/2pfM4GRThe Philadelphia Inquirer.

The entire event is expected to cost between $20 million and $25 million, with most of the cost picked up by the NFL, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The city is raising $5 million in private funds and will spend $500,000 on city services, bit.ly/2pBDOh1.

Embassy Suites Completes Renovation
Embassy Suites by Hilton on April 11 announced it has completed its multi-million-dollar transformation, with 288 two-room suites offering separate living and sleeping areas, sofa bed, flat screen televisions, microwave, mini-fridge and work desk. Guests can enjoy free made-to-order breakfasts in the morning and complimentary drinks each evening.

The hotel has 3,500 square feet (sf) of meeting space and a 750–sf executive board room with state-of-the-art technology.

To read the press release, please go to yhoo.it/2pBxINl.

Eds and Meds News

Record Number of Americans Hold a Bachelor’s Degree 
In 2016, 33.4% of adults in the U.S. held a bachelor’s degree or higher, the highest percentage since the U.S. Census Bureau began to collect this data in 1940, when only 4.6% of adults attained that level of education, the Bureau reported on March 30.

In 2016, average earnings for males age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree were $79,927, compared with $50,856 for females, the report noted.

In Greater Center City, 59% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the forthcoming State of Center City, 2017, to be released on April 25. (Please see Upcoming Events.)

To read the Census Bureau’s press release, please go to bit.ly/2nFBkSb. To view the charts, please go to bit.ly/2p6Y3Xc.

Arts and Culture News

American Revolution Museum Opens Wednesday
The $150 million Museum of the American Revolution, a red-brick building designed by Robert A. M. Stern, opens on Wednesday, April 19, at 101 South Third Street, with exhibits that “infuse 18th-century history with distinctly 21st-century theatrical shock and awe,” theNew York Times reported on April 13.

The museum displays approximately 500 objects, from muskets, military uniforms and teapots to baby shoes made from a British redcoat. “If it doesn’t quite throw the old heroic narrative out the window, it does draw on decades of scholarship that has emphasized the conflicts and contradictions within the Revolution,” the article noted.

To read the New York Times coverage, please go to nyti.ms/2ofIJmB. For more information about visiting the museum, please go to amrevmuseum.org.

In related news, the museum has received a joint $2.5 million gift from Comcast/NBCUniversal and the Roberts FoundationThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 5. The museum now has exceeded its fund-raising goal of $150 million. The Comcast-Roberts gift honors the museum’s architect, Robert A.M. Stern, who also designed the Comcast Center. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2oaSfea.

Pew Awards Grants to Three Non-Profits
The National Constitution Center (NCC) and Independence Visitor Center (IVCC) will each receive $500,000, and the American Philosophical Society (APS), $300,000, from The Pew Charitable Trusts to “inform the public about the history of the nation's democracy and enduring contributions of American enterprise and innovation,” the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 4.

Funds will be distributed over the next three years for the IVCC and APS and over two years for the NCC.

The NCC will create a permanent exhibit related to the Civil War and Reconstruction period; IVCC will add interactive kiosks and more customer service; and APS will host forums on breakthrough scientific developments.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2nI8xYf.

Transportation News

Brookings: ‘Infrastructure Bill’ Not Realistic
In an April 7 article from Brookings, writers Adie Tomer and Joseph Kane address the roadblocks to President Trump’s call for extensive investment in America’s infrastructure.

They suggest that legislators and the Trump administration take advantage of broad public support to construct a national policy and establish clear objectives for the country, prioritizing maintenance and connecting people and businesses to economic opportunity.

To read the article, At the moment, an ‘Infrastructure Bill’ is Washington fantasy, please go to brook.gs/2okqYUL.

PHL Major Hub for Jobs
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) supports 96,300 jobs, including 54,000 “direct” jobs for airlines, in retail, rental car facilities, cargo operations, freight forwarding, and at UPS's large air-freight facility, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 10, based on a report prepared by Econsult Solutions.

Airlines are moving away from using smaller aircraft and, with larger planes, have reduced the number of takeoffs and landings, from 535,000 in 2005 to fewer than 400,000 last year, while the number of passengers, approximately 30 million annually, has remained constant, and delays have been reduced.

PHL no longer needs a new runway, so the airport’s fifth runway will not be built; however, a main east-west runway will be lengthened from 10,500 feet to 12,000 feet, and maintenance and repair of terminals will be a priority, the article noted.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2ow7EGk.

Alaska Airlines to Offer Nonstop Flights to Los Angeles
Alaska Airlines, which acquired Virgin America in December, on April 5 announced that it will begin nonstop daily flights between Philadelphia (PHL) and Los Angeles (LAX), beginning September 2, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The first LAX-PHL flight will depart Los Angeles at 8:45 p.m. on September 1, and arrive at PHL the following morning at 4:00 a.m. The first flight from PHL will depart at 6:30 a.m. on September 2, and arrive at LAX at 9:26 a.m.

American Airlines and Spirit Airlines currently offer nonstop flights between Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2oearns.

Seattle to Open Connections to Waterfront
Seattle will soon join the list of American cities that have removed 1950s-era highways that cut their downtowns off from their waterfronts, as boring for the 9,270-foot tunnel that will enable the elevated SR99 to move underground is nearing completion, according to Equipment World's Better Roads Newsletter.

The underground project encountered some highly publicized setbacks and delays, but the new roadway tunnel is expected to be completed in 2019, allowing then for the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and affording unimpeded access to the waterfront.

To read the article and view the video, please go to bit.ly/2pmzIwR.

Economic News

Nonmanufacturing Improved in March
Results from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s March Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest that the regional service economy continued to expand, though at a less robust pace, with new orders up for 36.0% of the respondents, down for 13.4%, and remaining unchanged for 24.0%.

The number of full-time employees increased for 24.7%, fell for 7.4%, and continued the same for 66.4%. Looking ahead six months, 56.7% of the firms reported positive expectations, 4.1% foresaw a downturn, and 34.9% reported they expected no change.

To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2o7v7L5.

Employment News

GPCC Files Suit Over Salary History Law
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) on April 6 announced it had filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court/Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the City of Philadelphia in response to the December passage and January signing of Bill #160840, the wage equity law, which prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their prior salary or salary history, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The bill was introduced on September 29 by Councilman William K. Greenlee and the new law is scheduled to take effect May 23.

GPCC maintains that excluding key salary information from the hiring process will drive businesses out of the city and limit jobs for local workers.

Proponents say the law will help close the pay gap between men and women, perpetuated when they are asked to state their previous salaries. Women make on average 79 cents for every dollar made by men.

To read The Philadelphia Inquirer article, please go to bit.ly/2nHFOmn. To read Bill #160840, please go to bit.ly/2hcVkEN.

Government News

City’s Overtime Spending Spikes
City of Philadelphia overtime costs through the second quarter of FY17 totaled $91.2 million, representing 68.2% of total overtime appropriations for the fiscal year, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA).

The City previously identified seven key departments for overtime reduction in the City’s Five-Year Financial Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2021, however, six of the seven exceeded their own overtime spending estimates while Public Property was under budget. Substantial overspending was found in Police (83.6%), Parks & Recreation (87.7%), and the Free Library (112.5%).

Following the November election, the City reported spending almost $3 million in overtime as a result of public safety efforts during protests and special events. In addition, Philadelphia’s rising profile as a place to host national events such as the forthcoming National Football League Draft, will contribute to spikes in overtime, the report noted.

To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2paAkSf [PDF].

MeterUP Expires
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) has discontinued use of the MeterUP app built and managed by Pango USA, due to Pango’s financial difficulties, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 11.

About 20,000 people used the app, which generated up to $15,000 a day in parking fees on work days.

The PPA on April 13 issued an RFP for a new parking app. Proposals are due by 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24. To read the RFP, please go to bit.ly/2ofHQKR.

To read the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, please go to bit.ly/2pg1Cu7.

Solving the City’s Pension Crisis?
In the April 4 edition of The Philadelphia CitizenLarry Platt discusses Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposal to have the City’s pension fund 80% funded in 13 years, noting that this year the City will contribute $630 million to the pension fund, more than the City collects in property taxes. Platt interviews former PICA chairman Sam Katz and Richard Vague, venture capitalist, to measure the feasibility of the Mayor’s plan. Platt also presents their ideas for solving the pension crisis, which Vague notes is not unique to Philadelphia.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2ocEfhv.

Water Department to Lease Additional Space
The Philadelphia Water Department plans to lease a fifth floor, in addition to the four it already occupies, in the Aramark building at 1101 Market Street to accommodate the bureau’s call center, previously housed at the Municipal Services BuildingThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 14. Aramark next year will move its headquarters to 2400 Market Street.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2nNb9Ja.

Parks and Open Space News

Free Activities at Dilworth Park 
Spring Training at Dilworth Park presented by Rothman Institute continues through May 25 offering a variety of free activities on Tuesdays through Thursdays, and featuring tips and tricks from experts at Rothman Institute plus top-notch trainers leading free classes: 
Tuesdays, it’s yoga at noon and boot camp at 6:00 p.m.;
Wednesdays, at 1:00 p.m., Silver Sneakers, a fitness program for boomers and beyond, and at 6:30 p.m., City Fit Girls Running Club
Thursdays at 6:00 p.m., Zumba with music powered by Live Nation.
Spring Training at Dilworth Park is presented by Rothman Institute, with program partners Optimal Sport Health Clubs and City Fit Girls. For complete information on all activities at the park, please go to dilworthpark.org.

Upcoming Events

CPDC Membership Meeting: ‘State of Center City’
On Tuesday, April 25, at 8:30 a.m., at the Union League, Meade Room, 140 South Broad Street, the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) will present State of Center City: Attracting More Business Downtown.

In 2015 and 2016, more than 20% of all office leasing activity downtown came from tenants moving in from outside Philadelphia. While renewals continue in Philadelphia’s Class A space, older buildings and locations east of Broad also are demonstrating renewed appeal. How can Philadelphia build on these trends?

Hear from a panel on why companies are choosing to locate downtown and what the City of Philadelphia is doing to capitalize on this trend.

Panel speakers are John Grady, President, PIDC; Lisha Davis, Innovation Strategy, Vanguard; Wayne L. Fisher, LEED AP, Executive Managing Director, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank; and Paul R. Levy, Executive Director, CPDC, who will present an overview of the 2017 State of Center City report.

CPDC members are encouraged to invite young professionals and other members of their firms to attend. Please RSVP to Romina Gutierrez by Thursday, April 20, at rgutierrez@centercityphila.org or 215.440.5543.

Campus Philly to Present Report on Student Workforce Readiness
Campus Philly will hold its annual meeting on Thursday, June 1, with registration at 4:00 p.m., program at 4:30 p.m., and cocktail reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., at International House Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut Street.

Attendees will receive a copy of Ready to Launch, Campus Philly’s study of student workforce readiness. Some highlights from the report:

More than half of seniors think they have a better chance of finding a job in Greater Philadelphia than elsewhere; and college attainment for Philadelphia residents between the ages of 25 and 34 has gone up 50% in the last 15 years. This trend of Philadelphia as a talent hub is taking hold. As more college students stay, the region becomes more attractive to businesses looking to grow and young people looking for a vibrant community.

To register, please go to bit.ly/2neL8AT.