CPDC Developments Newsletter - 12.21.18


Neumann Finance hires 50+ for New Offices on South Broad

Neumann Finance, an equipment-leasing subsidiary of Beneficial Bancorp created last year, moved into its new Center City headquarters and has hired over 50 sales representatives with plans more than double that number by the end of 2019. The company took the entire 17th floor at 123 S. Broad St., about 23,000 square feet.

Neumann Finance focuses on leasing office equipment such as copiers and computers. It will target a variety of equipment segments including technology, software, office and medical, with the average lease being between $20,000 and $30,000.

Center City startup Guru raises $25M in Series B 

Center City tech firm Guru Technologies Inc. has raised a $25 million Series B round to expand its AI-driven, knowledge management platform, bringing its total funding to date to $38 million. The new funding round was led by first-time investor New York-based Thrive Capital, with previous investors Emergence Capital, FirstMark Capital, Slack Fund and Michael Dell also taking part in the Series B.

Guru -- which counts tech-forward companies as clients including Spotify, Square, BuzzFeed, Glossier, and Intercom -- has its Center City headquarters at 121 S. Broad St. It plans to use the money to boost its current staff of 100 Philadelphia- and San Francisco-based engineers.


Baltimore Immunotherapy Company Opens Philadelphia Office 

WindMil Therapeutics, a clinical-stage cancer immunotherapy company based in Baltimore, has opened a new office at One Drexel Plaza in University City to accommodate its expanding executive, operations and clinical teams.

The company said a Philadelphia office positions it to attract talent from the region's large pool of experienced biotechnology and pharmaceutical works — particularly in the field of cell therapy. WindMil's researchers are translating novel insights in bone marrow immunology into life-saving cancer immunotherapeutics that improve the ability of a patient's own immune system to recognize and destroy tumors.

Jefferson, Monell Partnership Announces 5 Research Projects

Four months after signing an "agreement of cooperation," the Monell Center and Thomas Jefferson University announced they are jointly funding five collaborative pilot grants for projects that combine Monell’s research on the senses of taste and smell with Jefferson’s work in basic and clinical neurosciences. 

The five research teams, involving at least one faculty member from each institution, were awarded one-year grants of between $30,000 and $50,000. Jefferson and Monell signed their agreement of cooperation in August with the intent of building translational research opportunities to address health challenges and improve patient outcomes.

Tridiuum Raises $9.5M From Stock & Debt Sale 

Tridiuum Inc., a digital health company based in Center City, has raised $9.5 million from a private stock sale and debt financing deal. The company aims to expand its sales force and marketing efforts, and invest in product development as it attempts to grow its market share in the “digital integrated behavioral health” field.

Tridiuum's core cloud-based tool uses algorithms and a proprietary scoring system to help clinicians evaluate and monitor patients suffering from conditions ranging from depression to substance use. Tridiuum recently tripled the size of its headquarters with a move from 4,000 square feet in Wayne, Pa., to 12,000 square feet in Center City at 1650 Arch St.

Penn Medicine, 4 Others Create New Research Institute

Penn Medicine is teaming up with four leading clinical research organizations to form the Allen Institute for Immunology, which will seek to gain a better understanding of how the human immune system works. The new organization will operate as a division of the Seattle-based Allen Institute, founded by the late Paul G. Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft.

In addition to Penn Medicine researchers, the initiative will also involve scientists at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; the University of California, San Diego; and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The Institute will focus initially on studying two cancers — multiple myeloma and melanoma — and three autoimmune disorders: rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease.


Link Wi-Fi Kiosks Expand To Philadelphia Market

Philadelphia has officially activated its first Link kiosks, known as LinkPHL, in Center City. Developed by smart cities technology and media company Intersection, the kiosks provide free Wi-Fi, mobile device charging and phone calls, as well as access to city services, information and advertising. The company expects to deploy 100 throughout the city.

1704 Walnut Street Retail Property Sells For $6.2M

Asana Partners has paid $6.2 million for 1704 Walnut St. The vacant 12,000-square-foot building was sold by Midwood Investment and Development of New York. 

Asana is a Charlotte, N.C., real estate company that focuses on buying retail properties in high growth urban and infill areas throughout the U.S. The acquisition adds to Asana’s Walnut Street holdings. Earlier this year, it bought 1501-1505 Walnut St. as well as 1519 Walnut and 1521 Walnut.


Philadelphia Enacts a “Fair Workweek” Law

Philadelphia City Council overwhelmingly voted to pass “fair workweek” legislation, which was signed into law on Thursday by Mayor Jim Kenney. Once signed, the ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2020, and is expected to impact roughly 130,000 workers.

The ordinance will apply to employers with more than 250 employees and over 30 locations (including Philadelphia) worldwide. It will require employers in the retail, fast food, and hospitality industries to provide advance written notice of work schedules and predictability pay to their service workers.


American Airlines to restore flights between PHL & Nova Scotia

American Airlines in 2019 will restart flights between Philadelphia and Nova Scotia that last operated nearly two years ago. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline, which controls over 70% of the traffic at Philadelphia International Airport, will begin daily flights in June to the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Nova Scotia.

American Airlines has been adding more flights out of Philadelphia over the past year. The airline this year started new international service from PHL to Zurich, Prague and Budapest.

New Data Show Strong Subway, Rail Use; Need For Better Buses

Recently released data on how Philadelphians commute shows investments in infrastructure paying off in some neighborhoods, while other areas are turning away from on public transportation that isn’t serving their needs.

Cars remain the dominant mode, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Five-Year Estimate for 2013 through 2017. Both the subway and Regional Rail saw increased use, but bus use dropped significantly in the last seven years, data that matches trends disclosed by other recent research.

An analysis by neighborhood showed that the number of survey takers who reported commuting by bus declined in most of the city’s 57 neighborhoods. The drop is seen in places both wealthy and poor, and was apparent even in neighborhoods served by multiple lines with frequent service, such as Center City and University City.


Center City Apartment Absorption Keeps Pace With Growing Inventory

A JLL survey of large (50 or more units) Center City apartment buildings since 2015 shows that while the inventory has grown considerably in that time – a net gain of 23 new buildings and 4,562 apartments – absorption has ramped up as well, largely keeping pace with a surge of new housing options.

Total occupancy has dropped only 3 percentage points in four years to 89.2%, and is actually up 110 basis points from this time last year. JLL notes that the current performance is sustaining a construction pipeline that many expected would have slowed dramatically at this point in the cycle.

Young Philadelphians Want Houses, But Don’t Have Money Saved

Two new assessments of the millennial real estate market paint a mixed picture for young renters and home buyers. A recent report from Apartment List notes that 91% of millennial renters in Philadelphia plan to buy a home but 44% of that group reports having no down payment savings.

A second report from rental firm Zumper says 18% of millennial renters in Philadelphia are getting help from parents to pay their rent. Philadelphia ranks third nationally, according to the survey, and only trails Austin, where 23% of parents are helping out, and Detroit, where 24% are helping.


Rail Park Wins 2018 Award For Outstanding Engineering Achievement

The Rail Park has won the 2018 award for Outstanding Engineering Achievement from the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers’ Philadelphia Chapter. It is the top award in a category that highlights the region’s best projects to be engineered and/or built this year.

Phase 1 of the park opened in June. It is being maintained by Center City District, in partnership with the city Department of Parks and Recreation and the Friends of the Rail Park. CCD is actively working to make Phase 2 of the park a reality.


PICA: Philadelphia Sees 1st Tax Collection Drop Of FY2019

The City of Philadelphia collected $175.1 million in General Fund tax revenue in November, compared to $185.3 million in November 2017, a decrease of 5.5%, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA).

After consecutive months of strong collections in FY2019, most taxes decreased in the fifth month of the fiscal year — notably, the City portion of the combined wage, earnings, and net profits taxes, which had seen recurring monthly increases. While the wage tax is coming in slightly lower than projected, PICA said the dip in month-over-month November collections may be due to the timing of collections.

Through November, the business income and receipts tax (BIRT) decreased by -9.7%, compared to a projected growth of 12.9%; the real estate tax decreased by -1.9%, compared to a projected growth of 3.5%; the realty transfer tax decreased by -2.8%, compared to a projected 6.5% growth rate; and the city sales tax collections decreased by -0.1%, compared to a projected growth of 3.0%.

S&P Global Affirms PICA Bonds’ AAA Rating

S&P Global Rating has affirmed its “AAA” Rating on PICA’s special tax revenue bonds, under the application of its new Priority-Lien Tax Revenue Debt criteria, with a stable outlook.

In this month’s announcement, S&P Global Rating said it views the “unique structure, and purpose of the organization of PICA as an autonomous oversight board created by the state of Pennsylvania for the City of Philadelphia as a key credit factor.”


City Council Postpones Vote On Provident Mutual Building Sale

Plans to redevelop the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building in West Philadelphia into a public health campus hit a snag after City Council decided not to vote on the property’s sale amid questions about whether the city was getting a fair price for the site and whether community members had been adequately informed about the proposal.

The holdup jeopardizes Iron Stone Real Estate Partners’ plans for the 325,000-square-foot building at 4601 Market St., which were to include Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia medical offices and a YMCA day-care center. The developer was selected through an open bidding process to acquire the 13-acre city-owned property for $10 million, after plans to move Philadelphia’s police headquarters there were dropped in favor of the former Philadelphia Inquirer building on North Broad Street.


Project Home, CCD Partner On Campaign To End Homelessness

Project Home and Center City District have partnered on a new information campaign that is initially being deployed on 70 transit shelters in Center City, highlighting five Philadelphians previously living on the streets who chose a path out of homelessness and now seek to inspire others to do the same. The posters also provide information about several Center City locations where those in need can get meals, services and access to housing. 

The campaign is an outgrowth of the Combined Outreach Program, a 30-week pilot program funded and launched last spring by the CCD and implemented in partnership with Project Home, the Philadelphia Police Department’s service detail and the city’s Department of Behavioral Health. During the pilot program, which ran from April 23 to November 16, 134 people chose to come off the street and enter social service, mental health and housing programs.

More than a dozen office buildings and hotels contributed to the CCD to defray the costs of this intensive effort. Based on the successful pilot, an expanded Combined Outreach Program will return in April 2019.