Wells Fargo Wants Philly’s Discriminatory Lending Lawsuit Dismissed

Image via Flickr.

In May, Philadelphia filed a lawsuit alleging that Wells Fargo engaged in discriminatory lending practices against black and Latino home loan borrowers. Two months later, the bank is pushing back. It wants Philadelphia’s complaint thrown out.

In a July 21 motion to dismiss the city’s discriminatory lending lawsuit, Wells Fargo says the court should drop Philadelphia’s suit for several reasons.

One reason listed says that Philadelphia’s claims are “too remote” to prove that Wells Fargo directly led to a loss of property tax revenue for the city, a standard set by a recent Supreme Court ruling from a Miami suit against the bank.  Read more »

Six Months In, Philly Soda Tax Nets $39.3M, Just Shy of Projections

Sodas for sale in a refrigerated case

Photo by Marlith (license)

Philadelphia reached the six-month mark on its sweetened beverage tax in June, and the Philadelphia Department of Revenue has reported preliminary figures for the month, which closed out fiscal year 2017.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the city told Philadelphia magazine that the preliminary total for collections of the beverage tax in June is $6.9 million, bringing the preliminary FY17 total to $39.3 million.

The city brought in the second highest collection of the tax in June (behind March’s $7 million), but the preliminary figure also suggests that the city has missed its FY17 projection of $39.7 million, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, which first reported the numbers.

“The preliminary FY17 total is only about $300,000 below the revised target,” city spokesman Mike Dunn told Philadelphia magazine on Monday. “We remain confident that the beverage tax is and will remain a reliable source of revenue, to the benefit of thousands of Philadelphia families and children.”

Dunn said the city doesn’t expect the final FY17 total to be substantially higher than the preliminary total. “Projections are always approximate — and we feel we essentially hit our target. In addition, we have consistently said that — as with any new tax — we need a full year of collections in order to make fair assumptions about month-to-month collections.” Read more »

Brandywine Realty to Move Main Line Headquarters to Philadelphia

The FMC Tower at Cira Center South just got a new tenant. Its very own developer, Brandywine Realty Trust, announced on Friday that it will it will relocate its headquarters to floors 16 and 17 of the building, rendering the building nearly 100 percent full.

Brandywine will join the building’s anchor tenant FMC Corporation, and companies like NASDAQ, Spark Therapeutics, Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners and Freedom Pay that have are already settled in the vertical neighborhood.

The relocation makes sense for a company that’s had a big hand in shaping University City with properties like Cira Centre, the FMC Tower and evo at Cira Centre South, the new IRS Philadelphia Campus and the pending Schuylkill Yards project with Drexel University. Brandywine has always had a satellite office in the Cira Center since the building was constructed and the developer’s Radnor, Pa. office, formerly the site of its HQ, will still house its Pennsylvania suburban operations. About a third of Brandywine’s nearly 400 employees will be based at the FMC tower.  Read more »

Here Are the 2017 Philadelphia Geek Awards Nominees

Photo from Philadelphia Geek Awards Facebook page.

The annual Philadelphia Geek Awards is already in its 7th year, and it’s still showcasing Philadelphia’s best minds in activism, innovation, and tech. Geekadelphia announced the 2017 nominees on Thursday, and winners will be honored in 14 categories that include “Game of the Year,” “Movement of the Year,” and the esteemed “Geek of the Year” award. The list of nominees is impressive and serves as a capsule of the big ideas and movements that are shaping Philadelphia now. And Geek Award winners only go on to do more amazing things—I caught with a few of them last fall.

This year’s black-tie event hosted by Geekadelphia, Generocity and Technical.ly will take place on Saturday, August 26 at the String Theory Schools Vine Street Campus. The show has sold out every year, so move fast. You can purchase tickets here.

The nominees for the 2017 Geek Awards are listed below. For more information on the nominees and past winners, click here. Read more »

I Love My Job: Ben Franklin Tech Partners CEO RoseAnn B. Rosenthal

RoseAnn B. Rosenthal. Courtesy photo.

RoseAnn B. Rosenthal has been at the helm of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania — one of country’s leading tech-focused economic development institutions — since 1996. That’s an impressive stint, and the leader’s got tons to show for it. Under Rosenthal’s guidance, the organization’s profile as a catalyst for local tech development has risen, and so too has the region’s position as an emerging entrepreneurial hub. Most recently, Rosenthal helped create and launch the Health Care Innovation Collaborative, a model that funds digital enterprises in Philly’s strongest industry. Ben Franklin already has over 200 tech companies in its current portfolio, and with Rosenthal’s lead, the organization is taking even more in through bold, new initiatives like ImpactPHL Ventures and a Fintech Accelerator. As the region readies for more growth, Rosenthal tells us the ventures she has her eyes on and what an entrepreneur must do to get her attention. And because she has over 45 years of experience in a competitive, continually changing industry, she’s got some real lessons on work-life balance, being a woman in charge, and staying grounded.  Read more »

Pepper Hamilton to Officially Form Marijuana Legal Services Arm

L to R: Pepper Hamilton partners Jay Dubow, Alva Mather, and Michael Jones. Courtesy photo.

The unveiling of Pennsylvania’s first medical marijuana dispensaries last month has put urgency not just behind cannabis entrepreneurs, but also behind some of the region’s leading institutions that see an opportunity to officially throw their hat into the ring.

One such institution is Center City-based Pepper Hamilton. The law firm announced this week that it’s officially forming an organized cannabis industry group based on its years of work in the legal marijuana space.

“It’s a situation where a number of us have been doing this work from a variety of different angles as the industry has been growing,” Health Sciences Department partner Alva Mather told me. “It’s time to make that public, and more importantly, it’s time to take a position as a firm to let the public know the expertise we are providing.” Read more »

PHOTOS: Inside Vanguard’s Philadelphia Innovation Studio

L to R: Head of Vanguard Innovation Studio Lisha Davis; Vanguard Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb; PIDC President John Grady; State Representative Brian Sims.

Investment management giant Vanguard has officially set up shop right here in Philadelphia, just a little ways away from its Malvern, Pa. headquarters. On Tuesday, the company officially cut the ribbon on its Innovation Studio now located at 2300 Chestnut Street, the historic Philadelphia Design Building.

The 16,000-square-foot space — complete with large windows, exposed brick walls, funky seating, and splashes of playful color — spans two floors and is already home to a Vanguard crew of 20, with room for up to 80 more.

Vanguard says the space is the beginning of its innovation journey, one that will further its corporate mission of making investment easier and more intuitive. Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb, who’ll step down as CEO in January, emphasized the role innovation has already played at Vanguard.  Read more »

These 4 Startups Landed a Spot in the New Sixers Innovation Lab

Photo | Haley Weiss

On Tuesday, the Sixers Innovation Lab officially opened its doors, solidifying the franchise’s new mission to back go-getting entrepreneurs. The 8,000-square foot lab space located at the Camden-based Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex, will be home to four up-and-coming startups, three of which were revealed for the first time on Tuesday.

The four companies will receive office space in the innovation lab furnished by Kimball Office. They’ll also have access to industry experts, and third-party consulting from advisors like Penn’s Wharton School; they’ll get legal services through a new partnership with Pepper Hamilton and website, graphic design and branding help through the lab’s partnership with Maven Creative. Entrepreneurs will even get an opportunity to pitch investors and venture capital firms through the Innovation Lab that says its open to investing in the four companies. And what differentiates the space from other incubators is its emphasis on speed and flexibility, the leadership team says. They’ve also developed an individualized approach to supporting the companies—the startups aren’t forced to meet blanket growth deadlines, for example.

Innovation Lab managing director Seth Berger, told Philadelphia magazine that another purpose of the hub, aside from helping the companies grow, is to bring and attract more talent to southern New Jersey and Philadelphia that will continue the region’s upward trend in innovation. Because the Sixers have “forward-thinking” team members and executives, Berger said, the franchise is in a position to move these entrepreneurs ahead.

The Lab’s inaugural portfolio of startups features companies in a wide variety of industries from esports and daily fantasy sports to pet care and digital media. Here are the four companies that landed the lab’s first spots:  Read more »

Firm Makes $220M Offer for Atlantic City’s Shuttered Revel Casino

Revel - Atlantic City casino hotel

Revel on its last full day of operation in 2014. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Atlantic City’s former Revel casino remains shuttered though owner Glenn Straub has repeatedly set opening dates for the property, which he renamed TEN. And now a buyer has reportedly made a $220 million offer to take the property off his hands. Straub denies knowledge of the offer.

An unnamed New York City-based private equity firm made the offer “in the last ten days,” said the Press of Atlantic City last Thursday. A representative of the firm, Alex Fredericks, director of operations at New York’s Digital Launch, informed the publication of the offer but declined to name the firm.

Straub told the Press, “I don’t know any private equity firms,” in claiming that he never talked to any equity firms about a sale. Read more »

Last Chance to See Trump Taj Mahal Is This Weekend

The Trump Taj Mahal entrance

Photo | Dan McQuade

Investors behind the transformation of Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal to a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino say demolition of the property’s façade is expected to begin next week.

Joseph Jingoli, CEO of New Jersey’s Jingoli Construction and an investor in the project, made the announcement during a Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) public hearing this week. The public hearing concerned Hard Rock’s application for an Entertainment Retail District designation around the development, the Press of Atlantic City reports. According to the publication, the designation would make Hard Rock eligible for tax breaks and give the CRDA certain sales taxes and room rebates. Read more »

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