“There Are Going to Be Some Legal Issues”

hoops deli

Google Street View image of HOOPS at 42nd and Chester circa 2012.

The former HOOPS Deli & Market at 42nd and Chester had a side wall collapse yesterday morning, and is now being torn down entirely. The wall caved in due to adjacent construction activity by Shafer Properties LLC, City Paper’s Ryan Briggs reports.

Thankfully, HOOPS has been closed for a long time, so no one was eating a cheesesteak when the wall fell in. But the Shafer construction site did have an outstanding L&I violation going back at least a month.

HOOPS was owned by the University of the Sciences — presumably post-sandwich making. Briggs:

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Reminder: IKEA Home Makeover Submissions Due in One Week!

ikea home tour video

Two IKEA Home Tour makeover winners, talking joyfully on YouTube about the transformation.

This is it: the last week contestants can submit a video to vie for an IKEA Home Tour makeover when the Squad is in Philly between July 21 and August 8, 2014. The submission period ends on June 8th.

To see a mini documentary of one of the home tours — this one in Brooklyn — check out the video below.

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End-of-Week Jaw-Dropper: Radnor’s Car-Alan Estate

Photo copyright TREND via BHHS Fox & Roach - Wayne.

Photo copyright TREND via BHHS Fox & Roach – Wayne.


This estate was built in 1898 for Alan Reed, of the successful Jacob Reed’s Sons clothing store chain in Philadelphia (about which you can read much more here). As he would do a few years later for his store at 1424 Chestnut, Reed hired William Lightfoot Price to design his home, which shows a range of influences, from Frank Furness (with whom Price briefly worked) to Arts and Crafts elements. The estate was named Car-Alan (Reed’s wife was named Carrie).

Some of the home’s standout features: a butterflied staircase with turned spindles; Arts & Crafts wallpaper; eight fireplaces; original leaded glass windows; and those ceilings! Dear lord, those ceilings.

But really, these photos speak for themselves.

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Should the Building Collapse Site Become a Memorial Park?

Before and after? Photograph by Claudia Gavin

A conceptual rendering of the park demonstrates how it might look. Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Let me come right out and say it: I think the memorial park planned for the site of last year’s building collapse at 22nd and Market is misguided. This isn’t a position that will endear me to anyone related to the seven people who lost their lives as a result of the disaster, or to the 13 injured or their families. But I think it’s important to evaluate the decision from a dispassionate point of view. As Ed Bacon might have said, “There’s no crying in planning.”

The truth is, today’s Philadelphians are temporary custodians of a city defined by its longevity. We take care to maintain the city as a historical record — not only of itself, but of the nation since its founding. And when we create something new, we act as the city’s interpreters. Future generations of tourists will flock to sites we deem significant, so we must be judicious.

My primary objection to the memorial park is within this long-lensed context. I can’t help but feel that from a historical point of view — whether in terms of lives lost, destruction of property, or larger sociopolitical implications — the park is a disproportionate response to last year’s devastating event.

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Morning Headlines: Property Managers Behaving Badly

The old Reilly Real Estate office as seen in a Google Street View image

The old Reilly Real Estate office as seen in a Google Street View image

Joseph Reilly of Reilly Real Estate pled guilty in federal court to stealing more than a million dollars total from various building owners who paid him to manage their properties. Rather than collect payments for the owners, Reilly took rent and utility money from tenants and used it to cover his own expenses over the course of many years. It sounds like a fairly tragic fall from grace, according to Alex Wigglesworth of philly.com:

Reilly once had a solid reputation in the industry, according to John Featherman, a realtor and Philly.com columnist…Court documents appear to back up claims that Reilly was at one point a well-regarded businessman.

But the decline was precipitous. In 2013, because Reilly had filed for bankruptcy, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Recovery fund distributed thousands of dollars related to 87 claims brought against him personally or against his company.

Reilly admitted during [an] interview that he started using rental proceeds to cover his own expenses when his business began to falter, according to prosecutors…Reilly faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Sept. 3.

Former Philly property manager pleads guilty to skimming rent payments [philly.com]

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It’s Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for 30th Street Station

30th street station revision

Rendering of the new vision for the area around 30th Street Station via Amtrak.

As first reported by PhillyDeals, Amtrak has announced the members of the team that will, in the next two years, develop the joint master plan for the Drexel-funded development project around 30th Street Station.

The group will be led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), one of the most influential architecture, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. They’ll work in partnership with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors, but be guided by a “coordinating committee” consisting of representatives from (deep breath, now) Amtrak, Drexel, Brandywine Realty Trust, SEPTA, PennDOT, City of Philadelphia, New Jersey Transit, CSX Corporation, Penn, PIDC, Schuylkill River Development Corporation and University City District.

Will there be many meetings? There will be many meetings. (Feel free to send the leftover bowls of candy this way, guys.)

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Survey: Philly Hotels Are Most Highly Rated Online

hotel monaco

Hotel Monaco has certainly improved the city’s hotel landscape. Photo: Hotel Monaco.

You think this city isn’t friendly? Think again. TravelMag.com reports that out of 30 destination cities, Philadelphia got the highest percentage of positive reviews of its three- and four-star hotels in the last year on Expedia.com.

The other cities in the top 10 were Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Charlotte, D.C., Boston, Austin, Indianapolis, and Houston.

Excellent Ratings Achieved for Hotels in Philadelphia [TravelMag.com]

Illuminating PBS Documentary on the Reading Viaduct

reading viaduct pbs screen shot

A screen shot from PBS Digital Studios’ “Unusual Spaces No. 2”

Even those who oppose the idea of turning the abandoned Philadelphia Reading Railroad tracks into public space will have a hard time feeling cynical about this short film from PBS Digital, a series by Raymond A. Schillinger. Featured on Gizmodo yesterday, among other places, the four-minute documentary is told through the eyes of Paul vanMeter, the project’s most tenacious advocate, and the founder of ViaductGreene, who died shortly after this film was made. It’s safe to say that without vanMeter’s passion for the project, we would not be where we are today.

The film is probably the best primer for people looking to understand what and where the project is, both underground and aboveground, and what it looks like now. Even I, as someone steeped in this subject matter, feel like I have a better sense of what’s being proposed now that I’ve seen it. Certainly, the scenes shot underground are immensely helpful.

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