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Center City News Update | December 20, 2016

Office Sector News
Radnor FinTech Company Moving Headquarters to City

FreedomPay, Inc., a financial technology (FinTech) company now based in Radnor, has leased 24,799 square feet in the FMC Tower at Cira Centre South, 2929 Walnut Street, and will move its headquarters and 150 employees to Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on December 15.

The move was motivated by the company’s interest in becoming part of the city’s emerging tech presence. To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2hKK6en.

For presentations from CPDC’s December 13th membership meeting on new office trends, please see Ed O'Brien's of Benjamin's Desk, centercityphila.org/docs/CPDC121316_obrien.pdf; and Paul R. Levy's of CCD/CPDC, centercityphila.org/docs/CPDC121316_levy.pdf.


Development News
PCPC Approves Zoning Changes

In last week’s final meeting of the year, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) approved 36 zoning changes proposed in Bill #161003, introduced on November 17 by Councilman William K. GreenleePlanPhilly reported on December 15.

Changes include modifying RM-4’s significant setbacks and lot size requirements in Center City. Also, CMX-2.5 would be changed to allow more units and denser development.

To read the PlanPhilly article, please go to bit.ly/2gUhgGC. To read Bill #161003, please go to bit.ly/2hQeIuH.


Residential Market News
Is the Millennial Peak Approaching?

While millennial population growth averaged 1.7% annually between 2007 and 2015 in the 10 largest U.S. cities, growth slowed in 2014-2015, averaging 1.2%, and fell to less than 1% in Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, and New York, according to JLL’s Chart of the Week. The 7.24 million millennials living in the 10 largest cities are still having a major impact on urban housing and retail markets, but the growth of this demographic bulge is tapering off. Retention of this cohort as they age will be all about job growth and quality schools.

To view the chart, please go to bit.ly/2gUazVd.


Eds and Meds News
Jefferson Health Opens New Transplant Center

Jefferson Health, which received a $2.5 million gift from the Robert V. Nicoletti Family Trust to establish a new kidney transplant center focusing on living donor transplants, opened the new center at Ninth and Chestnut Streets on December 14, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. The center combines research, education and clinical care in one space.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2hyx0A6.


Arts and Culture News
New Strategy Statement and Essay from Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation on December 16 published a new Statement of Strategy, continuing a process that started in late 2015 to better understand the forces that will affect the area’s communities over the next 10 years.

Alberto Ibargüen, President of the Foundation, also included an essay, Thriving in the Gray: How Knight Foundation’s Strategy Is Evolving in the Age of Disruption, which, among other things, underlines the Foundation’s commitment to First Amendment issues. Feedback is welcomed.

To read the strategy statement, please go to kng.ht/2gJKvIX. To read the essay, please go to kng.ht/2gTtyR4.

New Board Chairman at American Revolution Museum
John Jumper, a retired Air Force four-star general, has been named board chairman of the Museum of the American Revolution, succeeding founding chairman H.F. “Gerry” LenfestThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported on December 12. Lenfest has become chairman emeritus.

The core of the museum’s collection comes from the old Valley Forge Historical Society, which collected about 3,000 artifacts, including the museum’s marquee star, George Washington’s field tent. The museum is expected to open on April 19, 2017.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2hmL7YN.


Parks and Open Space News
Series of Horticultural Programs at Dilworth Park

Throughout January and February, Greater Philadelphia Gardens, which partnered with the CCD to create America’s Garden Capital Maze on the south side of Dilworth Park, will present free horticultural programs for both families and adults. Programs will be held in the Rothman Institute Cabin on the north side of the park and are made possible by generous funding from the William Penn Foundation. Whether you have a large backyard, a small roof deck, or a sunny apartment window, you will enjoy these programs:

Bulb Forcing Demonstration, January 7, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Family)
Tree Care for the Homeowner, January 10, Noon – 1 p.m. (Adults) 
Winter Plants for Home, January 21, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Family) 
Terrarium How To, January 24, Noon – 1 p.m. (Adults); January 28, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Family) 
Orchids for the Office, January 31, Noon – 1 p.m. (Adults) 
Seed Bombs for Valentine’s Day, February 4, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Family); February 7, Noon – 1 p.m. (Adults) 
Valentine’s Day Floral Arrangement, February 11, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Family); February 14, Noon – 1 p.m. (Adults) 
Flowers to Wear, February 18, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Family) 
Seed Starting, February 21, Noon – 1 p.m. (Adults); February 25, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Family)

For up-to-date schedule and information on all activities at Dilworth Park, please visit dilworthpark.org.


Transportation News 
FRA Releases Report on NEC Improvements

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on December 16 released its Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Final EIS) and Preferred Alternative for NEC FUTURE, the FRA's vision for improvement – greater speed and more frequent service – on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line between Washington, D.C. and Boston.

The Preferred Alternative would provide additional capacity for peak and off-peak service to increase frequency, enhanced service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg on the Keystone Corridor, and a new Philadelphia International Airport Station east of I-95 and separate from SEPTA’s Regional Rail line that accesses the airport.

The FRA has established a waiting period that ends on January 31, 2017, to allow the public to review and provide feedback on the Preferred Alternative and the contents of the Tier 1 Final EIS, though it is not a formal comment period and the FRA will not respond to comments.

To read the report, please go to necfuture.com.

SEPTA Travel Center Opens at Penn Bookstore
The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and SEPTA have opened the first SEPTA Travel Center in the University's bookstore at 3601 Walnut Street, the Penn Current reported on December 15.

The center is open Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and, in addition to SEPTA information, it offers guidance to the regional public transit system, Penn Transit, LUCY, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, Indego Bike Share, and car sharing.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2gU39ku.

I-676 Overnight Detours for Bridge Construction
I-676 will be closed and detoured in both directions between the I-76 and Broad Street (Route 611) interchanges beginning tonight, Monday, December 19, through Thursday, December 22, from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. for overhead bridge construction, PennDOT announced on Thursday.

The overnight operation is part of the four-year, $64.8 million project to replace seven structurally deficient bridges over I-676 between 22nd and 18th Streets and to make landscaping and streetscape improvements above the expressway. Construction began in April 2015 and will finish in November 2018, a year ahead of schedule. The parks in front of the Free Library and Family Court could open as soon as spring 2017.

Crews will work overnight to remove one half of the 22nd Street and 21st Street bridges over I-676. The contractor’s work schedule is weather dependent.

For more information on the I-676 project, please go to bridgesover676.com. For detours and other information, please go to 511PA.com.


Economic News
Regional Manufacturing Trends Are Positive

Regional manufacturing activity was positive for the fifth consecutive month, although employment continued to be static, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey for December, with the number of full-time employees up for 17.3% of the responding firms, down for 10.8%, and continuing without change for 69.3%.

New orders showed more strength, with 31.6% of the companies reporting an increase, 17.6% a decrease, and 49.0% unchanged. Looking ahead six months, 57.9% anticipated an improvement in business conditions, only 5.3% foresaw a downturn, and 32.0% reported no change.

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

Philadelphia’s Poverty Rate: 25.4% 
The U.S. Census Bureau on December 14 released its 2015 Income and Poverty Estimates for U.S. Counties, officially known as Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE). The median income for Philadelphia was $41,210; for Pennsylvania, $55,683; and for the U.S., $55,775.

The percentage of all people living in poverty was 25.4% in Philadelphia; 13.1% in Pennsylvania; and 14.7% in the U.S. The percentage of children under age 18 living in poverty was 38.4% in Philadelphia; 19.1% in Pennsylvania; and 20.7% in the U.S.

Of the 25 most populous counties in the U.S., Philadelphia ranked first for both Poverty Rate and Child Poverty Rate and 25th in median income.

To read the report and view the maps and charts, please go to bit.ly/2h1MpWo.


Government News
City Upgrading Internet with Comcast

The City of Philadelphia on December 12 announced a 15-year agreement with Comcast Business for an Institutional Network (iNet), which will boost the City’s networking speeds and capacity, particularly important for the departments of Police, Fire and Emergency Management.

The City is paying no capital costs for the more than 200 initial sites, and Comcast is providing courtesy Internet accounts for approximately 80 City recreation centers presently without service.

To read the press release, please go to bit.ly/2hq0Xjl.

State Budget Gap at $600 Million
Pennsylvania is headed for a $600 million budget shortfall in the second half of the fiscal year, as Governor Tom Wolf looks for ways to cut costs instead of raising taxes, the state budget secretary, Randy Albright, announced at a mid-year budget briefing, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on December 14. The state's nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office has indicated the deficit could reach $1.7 billion in the fiscal year that begins in July 2017.

Plans to cut spending include consolidating departments and privatizing services. While the state also has anticipated new revenue this fiscal year from expanding gambling, it has not advanced or approved a plan that could generate those revenues.

Wolf is scheduled to deliver his annual budget speech to a joint session of the legislature on February 7.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2hL9VLi.

Rhynhart Resigns to Challenge Butkovitz
Rebecca Rhynhart on December 14 resigned her position as Mayor Jim Kenney’s Chief Administrative Officer with the intention of running for the office of City Controller in the May 16, 2017, primary election, challenging incumbent Alan ButkovitzThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Rhynhart worked in finance for seven years before serving in Mayor Michael A. Nutter's administration. Rhynhart’s replacement has not been named.

To read the article, please go to bit.ly/2gKn56j.


Upcoming Events
Special Holiday Hours at Rothman Institute Ice Rink

On Saturday, December 31, New Year’s Eve, the Rothman Institute Ice Rink and Rothman Cabin will be open from 11:00 a.m. in the morning until 12:30 a.m., with the Cabin serving food and alcoholic beverages.

For all holidays hours, please go to dilworthpark.org/rothmanicerink/holidayhours.

Center City District Restaurant Week Begins January 22
Center City District Restaurant Week presented by TD Bank, Open Table and Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia will take place Sunday, January 22 – Friday, January 27, and Sunday, January 29 – Friday, February 3, and will offer a variety of dining options in more than 120 participating restaurants.

Restaurants will offer three-course dinners for $35, with some restaurants featuring a three-course lunch for $20, not including tax, gratuity, or alcohol. Restaurants will feature signature cocktails from partners Basil Hayden and Jim Beam Double Oak.

Reduced parking rates for guests of Center City District Restaurant Week are available at various Philadelphia parking facilities through a partnership with the Philadelphia Parking Authority. A full list and map are available at bit.ly/2hOCqn6.

For a complete list of participating restaurants, please go to bit.ly/1eofALq. Also, use m.CenterCityPhila.org to search participating restaurants, check menus and make reservations on your phone. Keep up with the latest Restaurant Week news on Twitter @PhilaRestWeek. For complete information, please visit centercityphila.org/RestaurantWeek.

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