CPDC Developments Newsletter - 10.30.18


Wells Fargo To Relocate Center City Offices From South Broad Street

Wells Fargo & Co. is relocating its Center City offices from South Broad Street to Two Logan Square, signing a long-term lease for four floors totaling 84,588 square feet at Brandywine Realty Trust’s

building. Wells Fargo is moving into space being vacated by Comcast Corporation, which is moving into its newly constructed Comcast Technology Center tower. The Wells Fargo bank branch and the Wells Fargo History Museum will remain in their current space at 123 S. Broad St.

Liberty Property Trust To Sell Stakes In Comcast Towers, Navy Yard

Liberty Property Trust intends to sell all of its remaining office holdings to focus on its industrial warehouse business. Liberty plans to divest itself of stakes in Comcast Corporation's Center City headquarters and technology center towers and in the Navy Yard, as well as its new office development in Camden.

Liberty’s growing nationwide portfolio of warehouses and distribution centers has grown as retailers compete to meet consumer demand for speedy deliveries of online orders.


Biotech Firm Partners With CHOP & Penn On Lung Cancer Treatment

Philadelphia biotech company AUM LifeTech Inc. has partnered with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine on a new technology to treat lung cancer. The researchers in the collaboration are using a novel approach to cancer immunotherapy that aims to improve the ability of a patient's own immune system to recognize and destroy tumors.

AUM LifeTech co-founder and CEO Veenu Aishwarya said the treatment is designed to help the body effectively attack cancer cells by depleting a specific type of white blood cells that foster tumor progression, and that the treatment can potentially be applied to other kinds of tumors.

CSL Behring, University City Science Center Team Up On New Meds

CSL Behring has formed a partnership with the University City Science Center to catalyze academic research underway in the Philadelphia region. The partnership aims to identify and commercialize potential new medicines at area research and academic institutions that participate in the Science Center’s proof-of-concept “QED” program that provides funding, mentoring and business support services to fledging entrepreneurs.

Under the partnership, the QED program’s 21 participating research institutions will be invited to submit proposals for projects with a focus on therapeutics that fit within CSL Behring’s areas of expertise.

Penn Researchers Land $10.7M Grant To Study Cell Therapy In Tumors

The University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center received a $10.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study CAR-T cells in solid tumors. The five-year grant will support new experimental approaches in lung cancer and mesothelioma being conducted by Penn researchers.

The NCI grant will fund three interrelated projects testing potential treatments for lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that is caused by asbestos and forms on the protective tissues covering the lungs, abdomen and heart.


Philadelphia Officials Visit Ireland, U.K. To Boost Business Ties

Philadelphia officials are wrapping up a multicity trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom from October 20-29 with the goal of fostering city-to-city relationship building and business development. Mayor Jim Kenney and representatives from the Department of Commerce were visiting nine cities including Dublin, Belfast, London and Cambridge.

The city found the U.K. and Ireland were top markets for business development activity based on research from the Brookings Institution's global identity project, an initiative to help metropolitan areas reorient their economies toward greater engagement in world markets.


Global Furniture Group Opens Center City Showroom

Furniture dealer Global Furniture Group, which has its U.S. headquarters in Marlton, N.J., has opened a showroom on the 38th floor of 1735 Market St. Global Furniture officials said the New Jersey location is inconvenient for its customers so the decision was made to bring the showroom to Center City, home to the region’s design, real estate and business communities.

The company has transformed the 9,800-square-foot space into what looks like a contemporary furnished office. Global Furniture also plans to host events in the showroom, which has seen 800 walk-in visitors in the two months since it opened.

Proposal Revisited For Italian Market BID

A number of South Philadelphia residents are revisiting a proposal to create a business improvement district in the Italian Market, even though a similar campaign failed narrowly in 2016. Organizers of the new BID campaign said several shops have closed and foot traffic has decreased in the two years since the last proposal failed.

The district would be bounded by Federal, Fitzwater, 8th and 10th streets, with some additional areas of Washington Avenue and Christian Street. Though residential property owners would not be asked to pay into the BID, they would benefit from clean-up efforts and improved infrastructure, including lighting, according to the BID organizers.


Tech Startups Finish Comcast Accelerator Program

Ten tech startups have completed the first cohort of Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs Accelerator Program. Many of the startups landed pilot projects during their 13 weeks in the accelerator, and others are in the works. Several of the companies are maintaining a presence in Philadelphia and will set up their startups in the new Comcast Technology Center.

The startups are in the media, entertainment and connectivity businesses. Comcast, which is an investor in all of the companies through its partnership with Techstars, will begin accepting applications for its next cohort to begin in July.


Indego Expansion Plan Details Bike Share Rollout For 2019

The Indego bike share system is poised for greater expansion and new options as Philadelphia looks to grow the service in 2019 and beyond. City officials announced that Indego will expand as part of the Connect Transportation Plan, which also includes goals for other transportation initiatives such as Vision Zero, improved transit, and congestion management, among others.

The plan calls for doubling the current Indego system to more than 250 stations by 2024. Indego currently has more than more than 1,200 bikes at about 120 bike stations citywide.

UPS Testing Bike Deliveries On Seattle's Congested Streets

United Parcel Service is testing motor-assisted cargo bikes in downtown Seattle to navigate in and around congested streets via bike lanes and sidewalks. The cargo bike, which can cart 400 pounds, is one of several experiments by the Atlanta-based company with modes of transport, including drones and electric vehicles.

The vehicle, developed with Silver Eagle Manufacturing, looks like a mountain bike in the front and is attached to what looks like a miniature UPS van on a two-wheeled trailer. The driver is protected by canopy and a windshield.


Report: Philadelphia’s Rise In Renters Exceeds Other Big Cities

Over the last decade, Philadelphia has seen a rise in rentership well above the national average and higher than most of the nation’s other large cities, according to new data from APM Research Lab and Marketplace.

From 2006 to 2016, the percentage of Philadelphia’s renting households rose more than 6 points, to 47.9%, the third largest increase among the nation’s 10 most populous cities and above the national increase of 4.2%. The trend peaked in 2013, when Philadelphia’s renter rate stood at 49%. That was followed by two years of slight increases in homeownership, before renting inched up in popularity again in 2016. Philadelphia has long had a very high percent of homeowners so the increase in renters is one sign of the number of new, younger people moving into the city, as well as a national trend that has been tilting away from homeownership. 

Strong Sales Volume, Moderating Prices Persist In Housing For Q3

Philadelphia’s housing market over the summer showed a continuation of the spring’s trends, with average home prices rising modestly on a quality- and seasonally-adjusted basis for Q3 and house prices remaining flat year-over-year.

The latest data from Drexel University’s Lindy Institute also found that home sales activity remains strong despite the levelling off of house prices; housing inventories remain very low but did slightly increase for Q3; and the recent changes overall have resulted in improved housing affordability for many Philadelphians.


East Market Developer Gets OK To Demolish Parking Garage

The owner of a complex of apartments, offices and shops between 11th and 12th streets on Market Street has been granted a demolition permit for the parking structure on the Chestnut Street-facing portion of its project site. The permit allows National Real Estate Development of Washington, D.C., to begin razing the four-story, 78-year-old garage with ground-floor retail.

National's plans for the East Market space call for two mixed-use towers atop retail spaces with parking. The building is part of a property controlled by National under a long-term lease with the site's owner, the estate of 19th-century Philadelphia banker and philanthropist Stephen Girard.

Historical Commission OKs smokestack demo on Washington Ave.

The city’s Historical Commission voted 8-3 to allow the demolition of the former Frankford Chocolate Factory’s smokestack as part of a larger plan to erect townhomes and a mixed-use development on the site. OCF Realty, which is overseeing the project, plans to begin demolition in a few weeks.

OCF plans to tear down much of the defunct 150-year-old factory at 2101 Washington Ave. and replace it with townhomes, 20,000 square feet of retail, a restaurant and a grocery store. Groundbreaking on the townhome portion of the development is slated to begin in December, and the mixed-use portion in April.

Plans Revealed For Apartments, Retail In Former Red Bell Brewery

Redevelopment has begun on the long-vacant Red Bell Brewery, which developer MMPartners purchased for $4 million earlier this year. The developer plans to turn the 204,276-square-foot building in the city’s Brewerytown neighborhood into 133 rental lofts and 25,000 square feet of retail.

Apartments will range from studios to two-bedrooms and cost from $1,200 to $2,500 a month. The structure dates back to the late 1800s and has been vacant for nearly two decades. Renovations are expected to be complete by late 2020. 


Expanded, Modernized Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Reopens

The Holocaust Memorial Plaza on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the first public Holocaust memorial in North America, has reopened after a transformative expansion project managed by Center City District for the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Foundation.

The new state-of-the-art plaza now features historical artifacts, including train tracks that led to the Treblinka extermination camp and a sapling nurtured by children in the Theresienstadt camp. Visitors also can hear testimonies about people’s experiences being deported by train to concentration camps, via a free app that can be downloaded at the memorial site.


Given growing challenges in the quality of the public environment, CCD is stepping up its efforts to address basic quality of life issues in Center City.  Within the last month, working in partnership with the Rittenhouse Row retail association and the Department of Licenses and Inspections, CCD prompted the removal of illegal A-frame signs from one of Center City’s prime retail areas.

Last week, CCD crews removed the partial remains of 58 long-abandoned bikes, which were chained to bike racks and light poles.

CCD is now focused on abandoned payphones, many of which are covered with graffiti, and is working to have them removed.


Philadelphia Awarded $2M For Environmental Initiatives

Philadelphia is one of 20 cities that will be awarded $2 million and receive other help as part of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. The goal for the winning cities is to reduce carbon emissions by 28% by 2025.

Philadelphia plans to scale up energy efficiency projects across homes and large commercial buildings through policies, programs, job training and other resources, as well as dramatically increase the generation and use of renewable energy by leading and supporting institutional clean energy procurement programs. In working with Bloomberg partners, Philadelphia will also work to increase trips by bicycle, walking, and transit by 5% by 2025; accelerate transition of 6,000 municipal vehicles to electric; and work with SEPTA to electrify its fleet.

PICA: Philadelphia Tax Collections Up 6% Overall In September

The City of Philadelphia collected $195 million in General Fund tax revenue in September, compared to $190 million in September 2017, an increase of 6%, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA).

Increased collections continued for the third consecutive month in FY2019, driven by the City portion of the wage, earnings, and net profits taxes, which increased by 6.1% in September. Other major taxes decreased compared to last year, with just the City sales and parking taxes experiencing increases—thus making the strong wage, earnings, and net profits tax collections particularly important in offsetting decreases in the business income and receipts tax (BIRT), real estate, real estate transfer, amusement, and beverage taxes. However, PICA said, strong collections in the first two months of the fiscal year ensured increases for most of these taxes in terms of year-to-date collections.

Through September, BIRT fell -22%, compared to a projected increase of 2.8%; the real estate tax fell -0.5%, compared to a projected growth of 3.5%; the realty transfer tax rose by 0.6%, compared to a projected -0.9% decrease; and Philadelphia sales tax collections fell -1.6%, compared to a projected growth of 5.9%.

Two Councilmen Renew Push To Ease Business Taxes

City Council members Al Taubenberger and Allan Domb are introducing a proposal that would let some businesses avoid paying a business income tax even after they have become profitable. The proposal would allow businesses that lose money apply past losses against future profits to avoid the 6.3% city tax on business earnings for 20 years after the loss. The current rule provides a “use it or lose it” tax discount for just three years after a loss.

Despite recent moves toward lower business taxes, Philadelphia has suffered from slow growth compared to its East Coast peers and the exodus of corporate headquarters, which business leaders blame on taxes, regulations, and other obstacles of operating in the city.


CCD Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey: We Want Your Thoughts

Each year, the Center City District surveys our constituents about our performance. What can we do better or differently? What are your perceptions of Center City’s cleanliness and safety? What changes would most help make Center City a better place to work or live?

Take a five-minute online survey and you can enter for a chance to win $250 in restaurant gift certificates. The survey closes November 30.