CPDC Developments Newsletter - 09.05.18

Developments for 09.04.2018



Curalate Plans Move To New Hub At 8 Penn Center

Tech firm Curalate is moving its headquarters in October from 2401 Walnut St. to a roughly 7,000-square-foot space at 8 Penn Center. PernaFrederick Commercial Real Estate represented Curalate in the deal.

Curalate, which is backed by $40 million in venture capital, works with more than 800 brands to make it easier for online shoppers to complete their purchases and enables the brands to better understand the purchase habits of their customers. In the past two years, the company has announced partnerships with Google, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, among others, to create "frictionless" e-commerce experiences. Curalate was one of the first larger, tech firms in Philadelphia to move from incubator space into an older building that had previously been considered for housing and help convert it into new office space.

Arena Football League Relocating HQ To Philadelphia

The Arena Football League (AFL) is moving its headquarters from Las Vegas to Center City. The AFL, heading into its 32nd season in 2019, will be located in the PNC Building at 1600 Market St.

The move comes as AFL officials look toward expansion plans and partnerships. Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, Chairman of the Executive Committee, said the AFL will be “executing its strategic vision of becoming innovators in technology, data, gaming and sports betting to take fan engagement to new heights for a professional sports league.”


Jefferson, Monell Center Announce Partnership

Jefferson Health and Monell Chemical Senses Center have announced a yearlong partnership that will allow both organizations to adopt educational exchange programs, grow fundraising for research programs and coordinate on joint research activities.

Together, they will collaborate on and fund several pilot studies that could research ailments including heart disease, obesity, hypertension, infectious disease, dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Health Marketing Agency Evoke Streamlines Under New Brand

Evoke Group, a Center City health marketing agency founded in 2015, has changed its name to Evoke, a new global brand comprising complementary agencies and services.

Agencies forming the new brand include Evoke Health, Firsthand, Fabric, Traverse HealthStrategy, Nitrogen Health and Tonic Life Communications. Also joining the fold are two agencies Evoke acquired this year: New York-based AboveNation Media and San Francisco's Giant Creative Strategy, which sold for $72.2 million and will now be called Evoke Giant. Evoke has additional offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Dubai, and has nearly 600 employees.


Comcast Tower's Four Seasons Delays Opening Date To 2019

The opening of the Four Seasons Hotel at the Comcast Technology Center has been pushed to spring 2019, but the hiring and recruitment process is underway and expected to add over 500 employees. The $1.5 billion, 60-story skyscraper at 18th Street and JFK Boulevard is being developed by Liberty Property Trust.

The first round of hires will fill positions on the executive team, and the sales, promotions, and food and beverage departments, as well as employees for the coffee bar by Chef Greg Vernick, who will also open a street-level restaurant at the new high-rise.

Longtime Baltimore Convention Moving To Philadelphia In 2020

Natural Products Expo East, for years one of Baltimore's largest conventions, said it has outgrown the Baltimore Convention Center and will move to Philadelphia in 2020.

The convention, which assembles retailers, wholesalers and producers from across the natural products industry for a weekend each fall, drew more than 28,000 people to Baltimore in fiscal 2017. That year, it accounted for more than 15,700 hotel room nights and nearly $17.1 million in economic impact, according to Baltimore’s tourism agency.


Five Below Places 8th On NRF’s “Hot 100” List

Market East headquartered retailer Five Below Inc. made the list of the 10 fastest-growing retail firms based on year-over-year domestic sales growth, according to the annual list compiled by the National Retail Federation.

According to the trade group’s “Hot 100 list,” the company, which had 625 stores last year, came in at No. 8 with 28% in sales growth totaling $1.3 billion in sales for 2017.

Aldi To Open On North Broad

Discount grocer Aldi is set to fill almost half of the lower-story commercial space in a large apartment complex planned just north of Center City. The German-based grocery chain has signed a lease for 25,430 square feet at the 14-story project under development by RAL Companies & Affiliates LLC at 1300 Fairmount St., now a vacant lot beside the just-renovated Divine Lorraine Hotel apartments.

With the move, Aldi's U.S. operation aims to sustain a growth spurt by bringing its stripped-down inventory of deeply discounted staples to urban customers. It follows similar steps by higher-end grocers such as Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market that have opened in apartment complexes in Center City.


American Airlines adding 4 new flights to Europe from PHL

American Airlines announced plans to add new flights in 2019 connecting Philadelphia International Airport to four European cities: Berlin, Bologna, Dubrovnik and Edinburgh.

When the flights go live, PHL will be the only airport in North America to offer nonstop flights to Bologna and Dubrovnik, both top tourism destinations in Europe. Including the new routes, PHL will offer nonstop service to 19 capital cities.


Alterra Sells 4 Center City Properties

Alterra Property Group has sold four properties to Dalzell Capital Partners, a Westport, Conn., real estate investment firm that has been acquiring multifamily properties in Philadelphia.

Dalzell paid $10.1 million for 1310 Spruce St., 1311 Spruce St. and the Queen Village Lofts at 427 Monroe St., which have a total of 39 units. In a separate deal, Dalzell also bought the Bradford, a 26-unit apartment development at 507-515 S. 8th St., for $8.6 million. Formerly the site of the Society Hill Playhouse, the property has eight garage parking spaces and was built in July 2017 by Alterra.


Chinatown Development Plans Show Green, Connected Space

The proposed development to replace a city-owned parking lot on Chinatown’s last major vacant piece of real estate will be shorter, greener and better connected to its surroundings, according to plans from developer Pennrose and design firm WRT.

The block-long lot is bounded by Race Street and the Vine Street Expressway, and by 8th Street and 9th Street. Revised designs for the planned legal aid office complex and residential tower emphasize the proposal’s 38,000 square feet of public green space, which planners hope will turn a desolate area into a destination.

Parkway Corp. Renews Effort To Develop Chestnut Street Lot

Parkway Corporation is renewing its effort to develop the parking lot it owns next to the Union Trust banquet hall, with plans for a 27-story tower at the property. Parkway is proposing 279 rental apartments for the 709 Chestnut St. site, which is also designed to include 135 "mechanical access" parking spaces above its first floor.

The project requires special zoning permission to include above-ground parking and a curb cut to access the garage, which are prohibited by the area's land-use regulations, according to the project application. The project is to be presented to the Civic Design Review board today, September 4.

Building Trades Union Plans To Move From Exton To North Broad Street

Philadelphia’s only building trades union with a majority African-American membership, and one of the only construction unions with a majority of members who live in the city, is planning to move its training operations from Exton in Chester County to North Broad Street.

The Laborers’ District Council of Philadelphia and the Vicinity’s proposed $25 million, 36,000-square-foot facility would cover about half of the land formerly occupied by William Penn High School, which Temple University demolished in 2014 after purchasing for $15 million. Temple plans to sell the site, currently an athletic field, to the union for $3 million.

Binswanger Sells Minority Interest Of Its Business To Key Employees

The Binswanger Companies announced that it has sold a minority interest of the business to 16 key employees across its U.S. offices. David R. Binswanger and Frank (“Jeff”) G. Binswanger III, cousins who had owned 100% of the enterprise, said the change will allow the company to attract and retain the best talent while continuing to grow. The company will now be run by a Board consisting of the two Binswangers, who are now Managing Directors, as well as two employees and an independent member.

Binswanger is an international full-service real estate organization with offices throughout the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Its clients include Comcast, Amgen, Kohler, AmerisourceBergen, Bissell, Bombardier, and United Technologies.

Former Provident Insurance building to become health campus

The former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building at 4601 Walnut St. — once eyed as a headquarters for the Police Department — will be redeveloped into a public health and community service center.

After a bidding process, the city selected Iron Stone Real Estate Partners, in partnership with Public Health Management Corp., to develop the 325,000-square-foot building and its surrounding land. The 13-acre site has sat in limbo since the city said in May 2017 that it would instead move the Police Department into the former Inquirer Building at 400 N. Broad St. The city had already paid more than $52 million to buy and begin renovating the Provident building.


Love Park Visitor Center Opening Delayed Until 2019

The flying-saucer-shaped visitor center in the recently reopened Love Park will open in spring 2019 instead of fall 2018 as originally planned.

City officials said the delay is largely due to the floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the circular building. The entire project will cost about $3 million, and $700,000 of that is just for the glass. The windows are slated to be installed by October; after that, work can proceed on the interior and exterior.


PICA: City Ends FY2018 with $228.5 Million General Fund Balance

The City of Philadelphia General Fund revenues totaled $4.47 billion in FY2018, $316.2 million more than last year; however, obligations kept pace with these increased revenues, totaling $4.46 billion, $318.3 million more than last year, according to a report from the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA). The fund’s year-end balance estimate is $228.5 million.

City overtime costs in FY2018 totaled $177.9 million, $14.7 million more than last year, representing 10.5% of wages and salaries, and the highest amount ever spent on overtime costs, PICA’s Staff Report on the City of Philadelphia’s Quarterly City Managers Report (QCMR) for the fourth quarter ended June 30 also noted.

The report also noted that public safety obligations, comprised of the Police and Fire Departments, totaled $962.6 million in FY2018, making it the highest category of city spending. In addition, the report found that the number of programs offered by the city Department of Parks and Recreation increased slightly from FY2017 to FY2018, while visits to its facilities and sites decreased.

Report: Philadelphia has so far spent $545K on Amazon HQ2 bid

The financial details of the city proposal to win the second Amazon headquarters remain a guarded secret but a report from Billy Penn, citing unnamed city officials, said $545,000 has been spent to date in efforts to woo the e-commerce giant’s “HQ2” and its estimated 50,000 jobs over 10 years.

The report noted that most of the funding has come from Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) resources, not taxpayer dollars. Details of the city’s proposal are not being publicly released, due to concerns that disclosing details of incentive packages could hurt the city’s competitive standing. Amazon is expected to announce its decision before the end of the year.

Branding firm will develop Philadelphia's “global identity”

A branding consultant has been chosen to help the city with a “global identity project” to make it more competitive. In January, the Brookings Institution chose Philadelphia and three other U.S. regions to take part in a project testing how to define and communicate a global identity to vie for business and talent more successfully.

Philadelphia officials picked the Brownstein Group communications agency to conduct additional research and begin work on brand development. Brookings' preliminary analyses found Philadelphia's reputation is tied to an outdated "history and tourism profile" that prevents it from being competitive on a global scale.


September 17: CPDC Young Professional Working Series

The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation is pleased to invite young professionals at member firms to CPDC’s Young Professionals Working Series with Pearl Properties President and new CPDC President James Pearlstein.

The free event is on Monday, September 17, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Cambria Hotel’s newly opened Attico Rooftop Bar & Restaurant. Invite the young professionals in your firm to hear about Pearlstein’s career in real estate, his thoughts on the downtown housing and retail markets, and his vision for the future of CPDC. Enjoy complimentary appetizers along with a wine and beer open bar.