Liberty City Press editorial: Passing the Torch

Liberty City Press, April 15, 2018 -  Passing the Torch: Gerard Sweeney’s vision for growing Philly echoes  Ron Rubin’s 90’s Center City plan.

"In the late 1980s, around the time most millennials who now call this section of town their playground were born, Center City was a mess. This was before South Broad transformed into the Avenue of the Arts, when the Center City streets had become a refuge for the newly-deinstitutionalized homeless. Center City was becoming filthy and scary.

So a group of city business leaders, spearheaded by real estate mogul Ron Rubin, decided that they would take matters into their own hands. In 1991 they formed the Center City District (CCD). Rubin’s vision was of a separate non-profit, funded by Center City businesses, to clean up and help secure the commercial viability of their streets.

It is somehow fitting that, in the same week that Ron Rubin decided to step down from the board of the real estate trust he founded and led for the past two decades, another city business leader with an equally bold vision for Philadelphia’s future has stepped up to claim Rubin’s mantle. And he has done so in ways very similar to Rubin’s approach in the 1980s

Meet Gerard Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. Sweeney has been beating the corporate drum for a bold and sweeping plan to reimagine Philadelphia’s tax structure. The plan that, at its core, applies Rubin’s vision for the CCD: a shift toward commercial property taxes (think CCD surcharge) and away from business and wage taxes. The Sweeney plan is actually the Sweeney-Levy plan; his partner is Paul Levy, the long-time president and CEO of — you guessed it — the CCD."