News

Center City News Update - 06.27.17

Development News

Southern Land Company Finalizes Walnut Street Development
The Southern Land Company’s final plan for its 1911 Walnut development was presented to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) on June 13, the same day Bill #170498bit.ly/2sLlKDC, was approved by the City Council Rules Committee, PlanPhilly reported. The full council approved the bill on June 22. The plan calls for a 47-story building set back from Walnut Street with a maximum of 335 condominium and apartment units.

The proposal preserves the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop and the Warwick Apartments, which previously were to be demolished and now will be transformed into affordable housing units.

Moravian Street, between Sansom and Walnut Streets, which splits the project, will be removed and Southern Land will maintain the area. Bill #170556bit.ly/2t0sPmh, the enabling bill for this aspect of the project, was approved by the full council on June 15.

To read the PlanPhilly article and see the new renderings, please go to bit.ly/2sxibUF.

Callowhill: Fast-Developing Neighborhood
In 2016, the number of construction permits pulled for the Callowhill neighborhood doubled year over year; the number of property sales nearly tripled between 2010 and 2015; and the neighborhood’s population increased by 30% between 2010 and 2014, Curbed Philadelphia reported on June 22. Meanwhile, there is still 400,000 square feet of undeveloped land in the area.

The neighborhood is defined as the area between Vine, Spring Garden, North Broad, and North Second Streets. Among the reasons cited for the recent boom in Callowhill is the development of the first phase of the Rail Park, under construction by the Center City District and expected to open in early 2018.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2t43E2z. To learn more about the Rail Park, please go to supportccdf.org/our-work/rail-park.

Schuylkill Yards Project Approved
City Council on June 22 unanimously passed Bill #161104, introduced on December 8, 2016, by Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, which will enable the first phase of development of Schuylkill Yards, a 14-acre project in University City planned by Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust. A hearing was held on June 13 by the Committee on Rules, which approved the bill, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, bit.ly/2tDAeFL.

The project will include a dense mix of retail, residences, offices, and labs, a 1.3-acre park, and the renovation of the former Philadelphia Bulletin Building at 3025 Market Street. For more information on the project and to see renderings, please visit schuylkillyards.com. To read Bill#161104, please go to bit.ly/2s0GH0w.

Demographic Trends

U.S. Population Average Age Is Older
The median age in the U.S. rose from 35.3 years on April 1, 2000, to 37.9 years on July 1, 2016, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released on June 22.

Residents age 65 and over grew from 35.0 million in 2000, to 49.2 million in 2016, accounting for 12.4% and 15.2% of the total population, respectively.

In addition, the report noted that, nationally, all race and ethnic groups grew between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016.

For complete information on the new estimates, please go to bit.ly/2sFWQFt.

Hospitality News

City Ranked Second in Best Places to Visit
Philadelphia is ranked #2 in “Best Places to Visit in the USA” on U.S. News & World Report’s latest list, behind New York City and ahead of Honolulu, Maui, San Francisco, Grand Canyon, Sonoma, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and San Diego, in the top 10.

The magazine notes Philadelphia’s rich historical heritage, notable museums, active nightlife, beloved sports teams and thriving restaurant scene.

To see the complete list, please go to bit.ly/2suD5TE.

New Guide to Accessibility
Visit Philadelphia has assembled a guide to accessibility for the city’s key historical and cultural sites, including major museums and Independence National Historical Park, noting where wheelchairs and sign language interpreters are available, videos have closed captioning, service animals are welcome, and paid personal-care assistants are not charged admission, among other accommodations, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 15.

To view the accessibility guide, please go to vstphl.ly/2qfnSRU. To read the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, please go to bit.ly/2st8up5.

Retail News 

Brûlée Catering Sold to Comcast Spectacor
Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix’s Brûlée Catering, the hospitality group that has exclusive caterer status at the National Constitution Center, Independence Visitor Center, the Museum of the American Revolution and Dilworth Park, has been sold to Comcast SpectacorPhiladelphia magazine reported on June 22.

The new name for the catering company will be Brûlée by Spectra.

The name change won’t be immediate and the company will continue to operate as is with existing staff for the immediate future. Financial terms were not made public.

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

Arts and Culture News

Orchestra’s President to Step Down in December
Allison Vulgamore, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will step down when her contract expires in December, after eight years of leadership, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The orchestra has not yet named a search committee to find her replacement, but is expected to in the near future. The next president will be working to raise the orchestra’s endowment so that investment income generates approximately one third of the orchestra’s budget, the article noted. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2rDFvMi.

Parks and Open Space News

NEA Grant to Support ‘Pulse’
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has approved an Art Works award of $20,000 to the Center City District Foundation (CCDF) to support the creation of Pulse, the unique installation planned for the fountain at Dilworth Park.

Designed by internationally-recognized sculptor Janet EchelmanPulse draws inspiration from Center Square’s historic association with water and transportation, and traces with curtains of colored mist across the fountain the movement of trains beneath the surface. In addition to adding a destination work of art for visitors, residents, and workers in Center City, this original installation provides donors with a major naming opportunity for Dilworth’s fountain.

The Center City District (CCD) has already installed major parts of the infrastructure necessary to support this artwork and has set aside funding to match private donations in order to launch the first phase in 2018.

For more information on CCDF’s art project, please go to Pulse at Dilworth Park. To learn more about CCDF, please go to supportccdf.org.

Summer in the City: Dilworth Park
Philadelphia's center stage shines every Wednesday, from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., with PNC presents Live @ Lunch, a showcase of local music. June performances highlight the city’s active music organizations: June 28, Nazir Ebo.

For information on all the summer activities in Dilworth Park, please go to dilworthpark.org.

New Sister City Added to Fountain at Sister Cities Park
Tomorrow, June 27, at 5:30 p.m. at Sister Cities Park18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Mayor Jim Kenney; Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Mayor Peter Feldmann; Councilman Al Taubenberger; Philanthropist John MooreNancy A. Goldenberg, Executive Director, Center City District Foundation; and Paul R. Levy, President and CEO, Center City District, will help dedicate the new addition to the Sister Cities Park World Fountain, recognizing Frankfurt am Main as Philadelphia’s 11th Sister City. A reception will follow the ceremony.

The Sister Cities Program is directed by Citizen Diplomacy International Philadelphia. Through the generous support of Johnson, Kendall & JohnsonPWC; and John and Gina Moore, the Center City District was able to enhance the Sister Cities Fountain, which offers a unique representation of the world with Philadelphia at its center. For more information, please visit sistercitiespark.org.

Next Summer, a Pop-Up Farm for Paine Plaza
In summer 2018, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) will transform Thomas Paine Plaza into a temporary 2,000-square-foot urban garden with the help of a $300,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts & HeritagePhiladelphia magazine reported on June 20.

The PHS Farm for the City will offer gardening workshops, large-scale community dinners, poetry, storytelling performances and interactive panel discussions. The pop-up farm will feature raised garden beds, and produce will be donated to Broad Street Ministry, which serves the homeless.

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

DRWC to Develop Cherry Street Pier
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) on June 23 announced its plan to transform Philadelphia’s Municipal Pier 9 into the Cherry Street Pier, a $4 million project that will be supported in part by a $683,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Cherry Street Pier will feature four zones of activity: The Hub, featuring food and drink; The Garage, a collaborative working space; The Platform, an open programmable space for pop-up retail markets, art installations and public events; and The Garden, an open-air park and café.

DRWC is the developer, and the design team includes Groundswell Design GroupInterface Studio ArchitectsW.J. Castle Engineers and D3 Development. Construction will be managed by Scungio-Borst. A late spring or early summer 2018 opening is anticipated.

To read the press release and see the renderings, please go to bit.ly/2t09JN7 [PDF].

Transportation News

SEPTA’s Summer Schedules
SEPTA’s Route 15 trolley service has been replaced by bus service, which will continue through Sunday, September 17, in order to repair the tracks, SEPTA announced. In addition, there are slight adjustments to the midday schedule on Routes 4 and 16. Other minor seasonal changes have been made on five other routes. For complete information, please go to bit.ly/1ES3DxS.

Also, on SEPTA’s Regional Rail, late night weekend and weekday service adjustments began June 19 on the Airport and four other train lines, departing after 9:00 p.m., in order to accommodate track improvements. Construction is expected to last 18 weeks. To read the announcement, please go to bit.ly/2tGFEzf.

Port Adds 29 Acres
The Port of Philadelphia has purchased the former Philadelphia Produce and Seafood Terminal, a 29-acre site at Third Street and Pattison Avenue in South Philadelphia, for $10 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 12.

The land, acquired from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), will be used to relocate warehouses currently at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal and will make room for more containerized cargoes arriving on ships.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2sV0caN.

JFK Boulevard Travel Restrictions
Lane restrictions are scheduled on westbound John F. Kennedy (JFK) Boulevard between 20th Street and Schuylkill Avenue on Monday, June 26, through Thursday, June 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., as part of a $15.8 million project to rehabilitate three structurally deficient bridges on JFK Boulevard over 21st, 22nd and 23rd streets in Philadelphia, PennDOT announced on June 22.

Eastbound JFK Boulevard motorists will continue to be detoured over Schuylkill Avenue, 30th Street, Market Street and 20th Street. The eastbound lanes will remain closed through the completion of construction, scheduled for August 2018.

In addition, 21st Street, 22nd Street and 23rd Street are scheduled to close today, Monday, June 26, through Thursday, June 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., for bridge beam installations.

For more information, please go to 511PA.com or penndot.gov.

Infrastructure Ideas from Trump Administration
Brief details of President Donald Trump’s plan for improving the country’s infrastructure were made available June 8, including plans to reduce the average time for permit approval from 10 years to two years; implementing a workforce-training initiative that focuses on apprenticeships; and investing $25 billion in rural infrastructure, $100 billion for local infrastructure needs and $200 billion to leverage investments of $1 trillion, Better Roads reported. Privatizing air traffic control also has been proposed.

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

Gaming News

Revenue Up Slightly at SugarHouse Casino
Revenue at SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River rose slightly in May, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, with the casino taking in $26,974,684, compared to $26,170,208 in April.

The Commonwealth’s share of taxes was $6,922,286, compared to $6,861,957 in April. The City of Philadelphia collected $798,077 in May, compared to April’s $839,419.

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

Economic News

Manufacturing and Service Sectors Continue Expansion
Regional manufacturing continued to expand, however with less vigor, according to results from the June Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, with new orders up for 44.8% of the responding firms, down for 18.9% and remaining the same for 36.3%.

The number of full-time employees increased for 20.7% of the companies, decreased for 4.7%, and was unchanged for 71.4%.

Looking ahead six months, 41.7% of the firms expected business conditions to improve, 10.4% predicted they would worsen, and 37.8% foresaw no change. To read the report, released on June 15, please go to bit.ly/2rAO3mb.

Respondents to the Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey reported that business activity in the service industry continued to expand in the region in June, with new orders up for 33.4%, down for 13.7%, and remaining the same for 36.7%.

The number of full-time employees rose for 24.1% of the companies responding, declined for 4.3%, and was unchanged for 66.2%. Looking six months ahead, 54.0% of the firms expected business conditions to improve, 3.9% anticipated a downturn, and 37.1% reported they expected no change. To read the report, released on June 20, please go to bit.ly/2svJ2iB [PDF].

Government News

Teachers Approve Contract with School District
Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers on June 19 voted to approve a new three-year, $395 million contract with the Philadelphia School DistrictThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The contract includes raises for teachers; however, funding is not in place to pay for them and the raises will bring costs to $245 million more than the district has budgeted. The contract does not give across-the-board raises, but resumes “steps,” or pay for years of experience, and compensation based on advanced degrees.

Educators will begin paying for their health insurance: 1.25% of their base salary in September, 1.5% in 2019.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2sNjP3v.

City Council Goes into Summer Recess 
On June 23, in its last session before summer recess, City Council passed dozens of bills. The Philadelphia Inquirer provided a round-up of some of the legislation, bit.ly/2t4cbTb.

Among the bills passed was Bill #170559-A (bit.ly/2t6BAvC), introduced by Councilman Bobby Henon on behalf of Council President Darrell L. Clarke, which allows the Philadelphia Police Department to move to 400 North Broad Street, which the City will lease with an option to buy, The Philadelphia Inquirerbit.ly/2s1BiBj.

Bill #170206 (bit.ly/2t6HFI7), introduced by Councilwoman Cindy Bass on behalf of Council President Clarke, authorizes the financing of the Rebuild program, which will invest $500 million over seven years in neighborhood playgrounds, libraries and recreation centers. The Philadelphia Daily News editorial board endorsed the bill’s passage, bit.ly/2rKHCxX.

Bill #170593 (bit.ly/2smUDkJ), introduced by Councilman Mark Squilla on behalf of Council President Clarke, authorizes the purchase of Big Belly waste and recycling receptacles.

City Council will return after summer recess on Thursday, September 14.

PICA: Overall Growth in Tax Collections; BIRT Down
City of Philadelphia tax collections in May show a 3% growth in year-to-date General Fund taxes for fiscal year 2017 (FY17) over the same period in FY16, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority’s (PICA) Monthly Tax Revenue Update for May.

The City collected $172.3 million in wage, earnings, and net profits taxes in May, 2.9% more than it collected in the same month last year. In addition, the City collected $14.9 million in real estate taxes in May, a 9.5% increase over May FY16; and $24.1 million in real estate transfer taxes, a 37.9% increase.

Business income and receipts tax (BIRT) brought in $45.4 million, a 57.1% decrease over last May’s collection.

The City has collected $25.7 million in sweetened beverage taxes through May, short of its original projection of $46.2 million for the second half of FY17.

To read the report, please go to bit.ly/2sfNal0 [PDF].

City’s Historic Neighborhoods Designated a National Treasure
The National Trust for Historic Preservation on June 15 announced that the Historic Neighborhoods of Philadelphia have been designated as a National Treasure.

The city lags behind its counterparts in locally designated historic districts and sites, with approximately 4% of the city’s building stock listed individually or within districts on the National Register of Historic Places, a lower percentage than in other eastern U.S. cities, the announcement noted.

To read the announcement, please go to bit.ly/2rx3xbO.

Upcoming Events​

Have a Drink and Support the Rail Park 
On Thursday, June 29 from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., stop by Prohibition Taproom, 501 North 13th Street, to help raise funds for the Rail Park and close the funding gap for Phase 1 construction. Proceeds from the sale of select drafts and a signature cocktail that evening will go directly to support construction.

Please register at Eventbrite.com.

Save the Date: Automated Vehicle Summit
MASITE and PennDOT will host the state’s inaugural Automated Vehicle Summit to learn how the Commonwealth and local communities are planning for highly automated vehicles (HAVs) and the future of transportation.

The summit will take place at the Ramada Conference Center1450 South Atherton StreetState College, on Monday, September 11, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, September 12, from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon.

Topics will include: Training the New Workforce; Commonwealth Resources for Communities; Who’s Responsible: Ethics, Liability, and Insurance; and Expectations in Mobility and Paratransit. Demonstrations at Penn State’s Thomas D. Larson Test Track will show HAV technology as it exists today.

Registration information and other details will be released at a later date; attendance will be limited. If you’d like to attend, please type “interested” in the subject line and e-mail to RA-PDHAVSUMMIT@pa.gov.