News

Center City News Update - 05.02.17

Office Sector News

Verizon to Move Offices
Verizon Communications, Inc. plans by year end to vacate its space in Three Logan Square, the building constructed for Verizon’s predecessor company, Bell Atlantic Corporation, and now owned by Brandywine Realty TrustThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 18.

Comcast Corporation has the largest lease in the building, approximately 200,000 square feet, and could further expand there, the article noted. Verizon occupies about 89,000 square feet and will move its employees to space at 900 Race Street.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2o1GuIb.

More Expansion for Benjamin’s Desk 
Benjamin’s Desk will expand to 17,000 square feet of shared offices, meeting rooms and event spaces at the Studebaker Building, to be renamed Divine Works, at Broad Street and Ridge Avenue, and renovated by the same developer, Eric Blumenfeld, as the nearby Divine Lorraine HotelThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 25.

Benjamin’s Desk currently manages 130,000 square feet of coworking space in and around Philadelphia in eight separate locations.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2qbXN68.

Development News

Society Hill Exempted from Density Bonuses
City Council on April 20 passed Bill #160718, introduced on September 8, 2016, by Councilman Mark Squilla, which exempts the Society Hill neighborhood from density bonuses offered in exchange for buildings that include fresh food markets and green roofs, PlanPhilly reported.

The legislation was a response to several development plans that have been proposed that would lead to the demise of the Acme grocery store on Fifth Street, between Pine and Spruce. The latest plan called for the demolition of the market and the construction of a 53-foot-tall building with 65 housing units.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2op9Ikz.

East Market Update
As Phase 1 of the East Market project nears completion, the owners, National Real Estate DevelopmentJOSS Realty PartnersYoung Capital and SSH Real Estate, have begun detailed planning for Phase 2, a second, taller residential tower at 1199 Ludlow that will offer fewer one- and two-bedroom units and more larger units to attract established professionals and families, according to the SSH Real Estate Spring 2017 E-letter.

A $57 million construction loan has been secured to begin the 20-story, 240-unit tower, designed by Morris Adjimi and BLT Architects.

To view construction progress on Phase 1 via a time-lapse video, please go to bit.ly/2qjeooO.

Royal Theater Plans Made Public
Robert Roskamp, owner of the historic Royal Theater on South Street, will present his development plans to the Civic Design Review board this week, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 28.

Roskamp’s proposal includes a six-story, 57-unit residential building facing South Street, seven three-story townhouse units along Kater Street, parking for 24 cars, and preservation of the theater’s façade.

To read the article and view the renderings, please go to bit.ly/2pd5Rpm.

Hospitality News

NFL Draft Crowd Sets Record
The National Football League (NFL) announced that almost 100,000 people attended the first day, Thursday, April 27, of the NFL Draft Experience on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the largest attendance ever for a draft-related event, PennLive reported.

The Draft Experience continued on Friday and Saturday. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2pGJ2fe. Weekend cleanup and street re-openings continue today, 6abc.cm/2pxR0EV.

Eds and Meds News

School District to Hire More Teachers
The School District of Philadelphia is expecting an additional $65 million from the reassessment of commercial properties and, under its $2.9 billion 2017-18 budget, will hire 66 teachers to eliminate having split classes – one teacher for two grades in one class – and 47 additional teachers for grades K-3, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 20. In total, the district will spend $13 million on new teachers.

The District also included plans to set aside more than $17 million annually to cover costs now paid by the federal Title II program, which may be eliminated under the Trump administration, the article noted.

The School Reform Commission (SRC) will adopt a budget at the end of May after it is presented to City Council on May 10, and the public has been given an opportunity to comment at Council’s meeting on May 17.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2pH33CJ.

Respiratory Institute to Open This Summer
Jefferson Health will partner with National Jewish Health of Denver, which specializes in respiratory care, to create the Jane and Leonard Korman Respiratory Institute to be housed at Jefferson Hospital Pulmonary and Critical Care, 834 Walnut Street, until a permanent home is established, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 26. The Institute will define best practices for treating and researching pulmonary diseases and related disorders and is expected to open this summer.

The project is funded by the Jane and Leonard Korman Family Foundation, though costs were not made public.

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

Educational Attainment Map of Philadelphia Area
A color-coded dot-density map produced by the TCU Center for Urban Studies of Texas Christian University documents educational attainment throughout the Philadelphia area and dramatically highlights the concentration of population with bachelor’s degrees and higher in Center City and University City.

Similar maps are available for New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta. New York’s map shows a cluster, similar to Philadelphia’s, in Midtown and most of Lower Manhattan as well as the adjacent North Jersey suburbs.

To view the Philadelphia map, please go to bit.ly/2oTzaem.

Parks and Open Space News 

Free Activities at Dilworth Park Continue in May
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 click here.

Transportation News

Governor Announces New Rail Projects
Governor Tom Wolf on April 24 announced new approvals through the State Transportation Commission totaling more than $40 million for nine projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and 25 through the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP).

The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) will receive a $609,161 RFAP grant to rehabilitate the rail approaching and alongside the Tioga III warehouse at the Tioga Marine Terminal, 3801 North Delaware Avenue (Delaware River at Castor Avenue).

The new projects are expected to support approximately 375 jobs. To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2oMitRS.

SEPTA and PATCO Update Schedules
SEPTA announced that new Regional Rail schedules were adopted, effective Sunday, April 23, with printed versions available at Center City Stations. Schedules are also available for download at: septa.org/schedules/upcoming-rail.html. Riders with the SEPTA app on their iPhone or Android should go to Settings and update. To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2q7B1w8.

PATCO adopted a new weekday schedule on Monday, April 24, with adjustments and additions to the morning and evening rush hours. The weekend schedule remains the same, with trains running every 20 minutes on Saturdays and every 30 minutes on Sundays. To view the new schedule, please go to bit.ly/2oqQvLm [PDF].

SEPTA to End Transpasses
SEPTA will discontinue magnetic-stripe Transpasses and One Day Convenience Passes beginning June 1, as part of the transition to the SEPTA Key system, Philadelphia magazine reported on April 27.

Customers who use RideEco will receive SEPTA Key Cards, as SEPTA works with employers on the switchover. Tokens and TrailPasses will still be available after June 1st.

For more information on SEPTA Key, please go to septakey.org/key. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2oQRTag.

In related news, SEPTA Key comes to Regional Rail this fall and will eliminate the $1 fee seniors 65 years and older currently pay on Regional Rail’s 13 lines, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, bit.ly/2qneLi3.

Seasonal Flights to St. Augustine Return
Frontier Airlines has resumed seasonal service from Philadelphia International Airport to Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine, Florida, with flights operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays throughout the 2017 summer season, Historic City News reported on April 21.

For information or tickets, please go to FlyFrontier.com. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2pXNrHM.

Gaming News

Robust Increase in Revenue at SugarHouse Casino
Revenue at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River rose dramatically in March, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, with the casino taking in $27,701,239 in March, compared to $22,769,852 in February.

The Commonwealth’s share of taxes was $7,325,409 in March, compared to February’s $6,245,184. The City of Philadelphia collected $895,855, compared to $757,969 in February.

To view all casino revenues, please go to bit.ly/2bkEjIO.

Economic News

Manufacturing and Service Sectors Continue Expansion
The regional manufacturing sector continued to expand in April, though more sluggishly than in March, according to responses to the April Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, with new orders up for 40.7% of the firms, down for 13.3%, and remaining the same for 46.0%.

The number of full-time employees increased for 27.4%, fell for 7.5%, and continued the same for 65.1%. Looking ahead six months, 53.4% of the firms reported positive expectations, 8.0% foresaw a downturn, and 28.9% reported they expected no change. To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2ovqNED [PDF].

Firms responding to April’s Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey reported that the regional service economy also continued to expand, at a slightly more aggressive pace than it did in March, with 40.5% of the firms reporting an increase in new orders, 7.0% a decrease, and 32.3% indicating no change.

The number of full-time employees increased for 30.0% of the companies, fell for 5.7%, and remained the same for 61.5%. Looking ahead six months, 51.3% of the regional respondents expected improved conditions, 3.4% indicated a downturn, and 40.9% foresaw no change. To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2qeGjXG.

Government News

City’s Tax Collections Increase
City of Philadelphia tax collections through March increased in all major General Fund taxes except business income and receipt (BIRT) and real estate transfer taxes, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA).

BIRT taxes have decreased by 13.1% through March compared to the same period last year, due to increased exemptions for small business from the BIRT tax. The real estate transfer tax decreased by 2.0% percent through March. The City collected $160.9 million in real estate taxes in March, 43.4% more than in the same month last year. Overall, the City’s tax collections have grown by 2.8% in FY2017.

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

In related tax news, the City of Philadelphia has received $7 million dollars in March’s preliminary collection of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT), more than $1 million above February’s $5.9 million, the City’s Department of Revenue announced on April 24.

This is the last month the City will release preliminary data. Moving forward, final monthly data will be available at phila.gov/revenue at the end of the subsequent month. To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2oHibea.

DiCicco Named Chair of ZBA
Former 1st District Councilman Frank DiCicco has been named chairman of the city's five-member Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), the Kenney administration announced on April 17. DiCicco takes over from interim chairwoman Carol Tinari, who will remain a commissioner.

DiCicco was a leader on zoning and development issues throughout his 16 years on Council. His first meeting as chair was on Tuesday, April 18.

To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2osDSPc.

Council Launches Solar Rooftop Initiative
City Council on April 27 announced Solarize Philly, an initiative to help 500 residents install solar rooftop systems by next year, and a job-training program for students interested in solar installation, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The goal is to get solar installations at below-market cost and to create 75 jobs. The job training is in partnership with the Philadelphia School District. Interested residents can apply online from July 1 through the end of September.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2qk8VOb. For more information or to apply, please go to bit.ly/2ppGaCQ.

Census Bureau Documents Changes in Young Adulthood
The U.S. Census Bureau in April issued a new report on changes in young adulthood over the last 40 years and essentially compares baby boomer mores with those of the millennial cohort.

For millennials, the highest ranked milestones of adulthood are educational and economic. In the 1970s, 8 in 10 people married by the time they turned 30; now that percentage occurs at age 45.

Completing their schooling is most important for millennials, with more than 60% responding that it is extremely important. In 2013, 41% of young families had student debt, up from 17% in 1989, and the amount owed nearly tripled, from a median of $6,000 to $17,300.

To read the report, The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975–2016, please go to bit.ly/2pCVLPL [PDF].

‘STATE of CENTER CITY, 2017’

State of Center City, 2017, a 75-page report released April 21 by the Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, utilizes the latest information available, original reporting and analysis, plus charts and photos that present a downtown that has progressed to become desirable as a place to work, do business, enjoy culture, attend school and raise a family. The report also suggests even more that can be accomplished to make the city a better place for everyone.

To read or download the report in full, or by individual chapter, please go to CenterCityPhila.org/socc/. For Center City Philadelphia Developments: 2017, a compilation with map and full-color photos or renderings of 81 development projects completed, underway, or proposed in 2016, please go to bit.ly/2q8qBju [PDF]. For additional copies of State of Center City, 2017, please use this order form: bit.ly/2q6uZgh [PDF].

To read the Op-Ed article by Paul R. Levy, which appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, April 23, please go to bit.ly/2ox17wi.

Upcoming Events

Build The Rail Park Happy Hour
On Wednesday, May 3, as on every first Wednesday of the month, the Trestle Inn, 339 North 11th Street, will host a Build The Rail Park Happy Hour from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., with $7 Ryed The Rails Cocktails and Happy Hour Specials. Twenty percent of all Happy Hour sales are donated to Phase 1 construction of The Rail Park.

The Center City District Foundation is working to raise funds to close a just-under $300,000 funding gap for Phase 1 construction and is grateful for the enthusiastic support of the Trestle Inn.

To RSVP, please go to bit.ly/2pxThQc.

Philly Tech Week 
The 7th annual Philly Tech Week began Friday and continues through Saturday, May 6, at a variety of venues across Philadelphia.

Tech Week is organized into seven different tracks (Creative, Access, Development, Civic, Business, Media and Sciences) and offers 107 events. Topics include digital marketing, startups, art and technology, digital education and civic hacking, among many others.

Some events are free, such as the PTW17 Q&A with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Wednesday, May 3, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., at Altar Hall, Temple’s Fox School of Business, 1801 Liacouras Walk. Tickets for other events range in price from $10 to $75.

For complete information, please go to 2017.phillytechweek.com.

North Apron Plans Go to Art Commission
The Philadelphia Art Commission’s Art & Architecture Committee will consider plans for Phase II of City Hall’s North Apron Renovation at its meeting on Wednesday, May 3, at 9:30 a.m., at 1515 Arch Street, Room 18029.

Society Hill Annual Open House and Garden Tour
On Sunday, May 21, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Society Hill Civic Association (SHCA) will hold its annual Open House and Garden Tour. The houses’ architectural and interior styles range from the 18th and 19th century to contemporary.

Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. For tickets or more information, please contact SHCA at 215.629.1288, email mattdejulio@aol.com, or visit the website at bit.ly/2oUIBe9. For day-of-tour ticket purchase, please go to Old Pine Community Center, 401 Lombard Street. All proceeds benefit SHCA.