Mayor Jim Kenney Is Featured in the Debut Episode of “Pushback”

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Philadelphia magazine and WURD Radio, who collaborated on a special podcast for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, have announced they’re teaming up for a new podcast series.

“Pushback,” which debuts on March 16th, will focus on social justice in Philadelphia and beyond. The series is hosted by Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris, CEO of Techbook Online and regular contributor to WURD, and Malcolm Burnley, a writer-at-large for Philly Mag. The debut episode features an exclusive interview with Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney, who talks about the need for resistance and vigilance in response to many of the policies coming from the Trump administration. Read more »

10 Hottest Suburban Philadelphia Towns

West Chester: The Buzzy Borough That Only Gets Better

Downtown West Chester | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Downtown West Chester | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

By the Numbers

15%

Five-year change in home value in West Chester

While planning committees around the region rush to give their downtowns the Oprah makeover treatment, West Chester only has to ponder how to improve an already vibrant borough — one with more than 65 places to eat and drink and quality independent boutiques. Volume is what’s coming next: Three new apartment complexes (including an eye-catching Eli Kahn development) have added 360 upscale residential units that are being rented by boomers and millennials alike. “The high density, the parks, the historic buildings, all the dog owners … it provides the community with neighborliness. People can’t help but know each other,” says Malcolm Johnstone, executive director of the West Chester Business Improvement District. “This is the anti-urban-sprawl community.” Buyers want in, according to realtors from around the region, who report that interest from clients across all age groups and demographics is growing. Additional attractions in the works — like a possible second hotel and the Knauer Performing Arts Center, which is giving the 100-year-old armory a second life — will only up the cultural appeal.


Media: New Retail, New Life for the Whole County

Michael Markman at the future site of West End Flats | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Michael Markman at the future site of West End Flats | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

By the Numbers

17%

One-year change in home value in Media

The formula for resurgence in Media is familiar. Step one: Add amenities downtown (five new restaurants opened last year; the many art strolls and popular holiday celebrations). Step two: Construct some new apartments that allow residents to walk to said amenities and public transportation (see the new, upscale West End Flats, which is bringing 162 apartments to State Street). Step three: Rehab dead zones (see BET Investments’ massive plan for the Granite Run Mall). Even though the latter two projects aren’t finished, this Delaware County town — which benefits from the fantastic Rose Tree Media School District and a quick commute to Center City — gets livelier each year. “We don’t have to advertise anymore, because the restaurants are full,” says Zubair Khan, of the Media Business Authority. “We draw patrons from a 10-to-20-mile radius.” It’s true: Surrounding towns are already benefiting from this newfangled Media.

How to De-Mall a Mall
The Granite Run Mall — a onetime Delco staple — is being born again. Michael Markman, president of Horsham-based BET Investments, breaks down his ambitious plan for the 88-acre property, now called the Promenade at Granite Run, set to open in 2018.

1. Add air. The walls and roof are being torn down to create an outdoor mixed-use walking community.
2. Add fun. Frank Theatres is opening a bowling alley and dine-in movie theater with a bar and nightlife events. Twelve new restaurants are being added as well.
(Parents, take note: While the kids watch the next X-Men, you can eat and drink.)
3. Add people. Four hundred luxury apartments are being constructed, with heavy landscaping and walking paths. So are offices and new stores.
4. Add services. CHOP is opening a pediatric medical facility.
5. Add transit. A shuttle will run a two-mile loop from the Promenade to West End Flats, BET’s downtown Media apartment building, so people can access both shopping districts and the train without a car.


Conshohocken: A Skyline That’s Growing for Residents, Too

Rendering of SORA West, a proposed mixed-use development | Courtesy Gensler

Rendering of SORA West, a proposed mixed-use development | Courtesy Gensler

By the Numbers

12%

Five-year change in home value in Conshohocken

Seth Lejeune, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Collegeville, says Conshohocken has “become almost a rite of passage, much like Manayunk is for younger people.” That makes sense, considering so many people are heading to jobs in the ’burbs. Conshy has easy access to all the 76s (the Expressway, the Blue Route and 276) plus regional rail, and it’s a stone’s throw from Center City. It has great schools and new hiking and biking trails, and the town leadership continues to weave in smart residential and commercial projects that add activity and density. One such skyline-altering project — to be complete by 2020 — is Keystone Property Group’s SORA West (formerly known as One Conshohocken), a proposed development on a five-acre site that has plans for two office towers, retail, outdoor dining, a rooftop lounge, green space and a hotel. It’s a block from the train station. “Conshohocken is one of the most desirable office locations in the suburbs,” says Keystone partner Richard Gottlieb. “Companies are continuing to come here. People like the opportunity to be close to work, and amenities enhance that. On Friday and Saturday nights, the streets are alive.”


Newtown: Smart and Seamless Development

By the Numbers

$352,500

Median home price in Newtown Township in 2016, up 8% in one year

Newtown Township has long been synonymous with historic country charm, which is why the yuppies flocked here in the ’80s to new developments that used to be orchards and farms. Now their offspring — as well as new arrivals — are reshaping the area again. “A lot of the changes have to do with demographics,” says Newtown native Jay Spaziano, an agent with Addison Wolfe Real Estate. While most Newtown-area residents are getting up in years, an influx of younger folk led to a 27 percent drop in the median age of Newtown Borough’s south side from 2010 to 2015. Those new arrivals — who love the lauded Council Rock school district — have a new way of living: They’re replacing older houses with more modern ones and prefer planned communities with smaller plots of land to tend to (like the Reserve at Makefield, a new Toll Brothers community). All this activity is having an effect on the town center; there’s a new condo project with retail called Steeple View on State Street, and the recently completed Promenade on Sycamore, which has apartments and upscale retail (there’s a new Anthro), has expanded the walkable downtown. Despite all the movement, locals are quick to note that the borough has done a great job of preserving the quaint vibe and history.


Malvern: The Biggest Building Boom in Chesco

Rendering of Uptown Worthington | Courtesy O'Neill Property Group

Rendering of Uptown Worthington | Courtesy O’Neill Property Group

By the Numbers

31

Average days a house was on the market in Malvern in 2016, a drop of 30% in one year

Malvern is in the midst of a gold rush of sorts. Buyers looking to get into the excellent Great Valley School District and close to the Main Line at a good price (realtors like to refer to this as the Upper Main Line, much to Gladwyne’s chagrin) are making grabs for newly converted land. “We’re seeing an awful lot of new construction,” says Linda Theuer, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway in Malvern. Some of these new communities have walking trails, playgrounds, and houses with all the great rooms and chef’s kitchens one could want, but smaller lots, by design. “People today want to be doing things with their families, not taking care of big plots of land,” says Theuer. Commercial projects are sprouting at an equal clip. One such project is Uptown Worthington, a development by O’Neill Properties that will have high-end apartments, eateries and a hotel to complement the Wegmans that’s there. Plus, changes coming to downtown Paoli and Devon (if that tempestuous Urban Outfitters center ever happens) will only benefit this growing village.


Glassboro & Pitman: Revivals That Are Revving Up the Entire Region

By the Numbers

321

Number of Glassboro properties sold in 2016, up 44% in one year

Glassboro, the home of Rowan University — traditionally a commuter school — is slowly becoming a college town. The Rowan Boulevard development plan, in the works since 2000, has successfully connected the campus with the town’s main drag. Now there’s fresh retail, student and non-student housing, and restaurants (like burger place Prime, from the Pub & Kitchen crew) — all good reasons for students to stick around. While it might not be Happy Valley just yet, says Rowan prof and Glassboro resident Courtney Richmond, a tipping point feels nigh.

Not to be outpaced, the neighboring (and once sleepy) town of Pitman has been crafting a new vibe. A regulatory loophole led to the recent opening of two microbreweries, sparking an anti-temperance movement. After 100 years, Pitman is dry no more. A pocket park and wine bar are in the works, and thanks to an infusion of funds from medical publishing titan Peter Slack, the rehabbed Broadway Theatre of Pitman will put on a full roster of shows (including many for kids) this year. Now, says former chamber of commerce president John Fitzpatrick, Pitman is seeing “more younger people, couples in their 30s with kids.” The next hurdle: getting that long-rumored Glassboro-Camden light rail line on the books.


Ardmore: A Downtown That’s Making a Comeback

Ardmore Farmers Market in Suburban Square | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Ardmore Farmers Market in Suburban Square | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

By the Numbers

49

Average days a house was on the market in Ardmore in 2016, a drop of 17% in one year

Ardmore has been around for more than a century, but town leaders have been working overtime in the past decade in hopes of making it the hippest Main Line town. (Take that, Wayne!) It’s working: Newer, cooler spots like Ardmore Music Hall and brewpubs like Tired Hands Brewing Company and Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant have brought life downtown — “Young life,” notes Emily Withers, of Keller Williams Main Line Realty — and people who are looking to put down roots. (The town, the largest on the Main Line, boasts more than 40 drinkeries and eateries.)

Those same 20- and 30-somethings, plus empty nesters, are expected to fill two new high-end apartment buildings. Dranoff Properties hopes to break ground this spring on One Ardmore Place, an eight-story building with 110 luxury rental units atop street-level retail. The project, which is replacing a surface parking lot on Cricket Avenue, is the linchpin of the revitalization plan, which connects Lancaster Avenue to Suburban Square. Across the street, Core Development has proposed a 77-unit building. And Suburban Square is getting a refresh: The defunct Macy’s is being replaced, in part, by the upscale health club Life Time Fitness, and a new parking garage, an enlarged Trader Joe’s and a rehabbed SEPTA station are in the work

This newly robust, pedestrian-friendly downtown is a top priority for today’s buyers. But so is diversity. The south side of town is home to one of the oldest and largest black communities on the Main Line. “I think diversity is always a draw — having a well-rounded area where you meet people of different backgrounds,” says Withers. The shops aren’t alone in expecting boom times: The Lower Merion School District has approved expansion projects, knowing that its student body is about to swell.

Q&A: The Developer Speaks!
After nine years, Carl Dranoff will break ground on One Ardmore Place this spring. Here’s why it was worth the wait.

You build giant towers downtown. Why apartments on the Main Line?
CD: This fits right into our playbook — we take on large-scale, game-changing projects. Ardmore has all the right ingredients: architecturally interesting buildings, the train station. You don’t need a car. That’s rare for the suburbs.

Did you need to be sold on the ’burbs?
CD: No. The township outlined a multi-phase, multi-year redevelopment plan. We saw, even back in 2008, that many residents in our urban buildings were commuting to jobs in the suburbs. Even more do now. We will diversify our holdings with Ardmore.

What sets this building apart?
CD: Most Main Line apartments are decades old, with no sense of community, no one to take your packages. We have outdoor space. We hired Cope Linder, the 1706 Rittenhouse architects. We will build an underground garage with 210 spots for the township.

There was some resistance from residents. Why stick with it?
CD: There were many opportunities for me to throw my arms up, but at the end of the day, this is the poster child for public-private collaboration. It could be a prototype for other towns that are starting to come back.


Marlton: A Quiet Town on a Building Spree

New home in Devonforde Estates | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

New home in Devonforde Estates | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

By the Numbers

$235,826

Average home price in Evesham Township in 2016, down 3% over five years

In Jersey, single-family homes and townhomes with upscale finishes are in high demand, and developers are responding. In Marlton — a 3.25-square-mile town that makes up most of Evesham Township — at least six communities are in the works from prolific developers like Procacci Development Company and Ryan Homes. And, says Cristin Holloway, managing broker of the Holloway Real Estate Group, most of her new buyers are young professionals fleeing the city in search of great schools and more space: “They’re ready to settle down and coming to New Jersey to do that.” Locals are loving the restaurant boom (even though it’s in a mall in nearby Moorestown), while Evesham officials have been furthering deals to keep the fun in town: There’s a lot of buzz about the redevelopment of the Tri-Towne Plaza on Route 70, which will have almost 300 luxury apartments, a pool, a gym, health services (Virtua has already signed on as a tenant), restaurants, a 1.5-mile recreational path, and a walking path that connects to Marlton’s downtown.


Phoenixville: High-End Rentals Mean a Younger Crowd

Downtown Phoenixville | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Downtown Phoenixville | Photograph by Jeff Fusco

By the Numbers

16%

Five-year change in home value in Phoenixville

Here’s something to consider: Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Phoenix Village — one of a few newly opened upscale apartment buildings here — is around $2,000 a month. There’s a reason for that. This borough is a case study in downtown revitalization, with a main street that gets more vibrant every year. (The historic Colonial Theatre — of The Blob fame — is currently getting a state-of-the-art redo, and revamped theaters are traditionally boons to local economies.) That downtown life brought in the apartment buildings, including a 2016 Toll Brothers project called Riverworks that has a rock wall and dog spa; proposals could see another 1,000 rental units in the next few years. The appeal extends beyond Bridge Street, though. New-construction developments are being filled by young families who love hanging downtown, the Schuylkill River Trail, the proximity to offices in King of Prussia and Malvern, and a school district that ranks in the state’s top 50. While home prices are on the rise, realtor Seth Lejeune, from Berkshire Hathaway’s Collegeville office, says savvy investors are still finding good buys on the outskirts of town.

Published as “The Hottest Suburban Towns” in Philadelphia magazine’s March 2017 issue. Edited by Ashley Primis; Brian Howard and Sandy Smith also contributed to this story.

» See Also: Is King of Prussia the Promised Land?

» See Also: Our Town-by-Town Breakdown of Home Sales in 2016

Sex in Philadelphia: A Peek at What Really Goes On Behind Closed Doors

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Credit: Kevin Burzynski

In a Philly campus apartment, a student is selling her worn underwear online for weekend spending money. In Center City, a gay man is shaving everything to keep up with the onslaught of hairless, six-packed sex gods on Grindr. And all over the city, people are meeting for steamy sessions of Orgasmic Meditation. (Don’t know what this is? You’re in for a treat.) Welcome to sex in Philly in 2017.

Our always-connected, anything-goes world is changing the way we do it, taking formerly fringe practices mainstream and making it easier than ever for us to get busy. This is what sex in Philly looks like now: how we’re having it, where we’re finding it, and what’s turning us on — and getting us off. Read on. (You know you’re curious.) — Edited by Emily Goulet Read more »

Sex in the City: Philly’s Juiciest Public Sex Stories

“The men’s locker room at a certain ritzy Philly fitness center is infamous. There is so much sex that goes on that male employees won’t even go in there. I’ve heard stories of guys servicing each other in the steam room.” — Center City personal trainer

“When Continental Midtown opened, a couple didn’t realize the mirrors were double-sided, and a gent had a lady bent over the sink looking into the mirror at herself, not realizing the crowd that had formed to see her.” — Former GM at Starr Restaurants

“Two chicks recently jumped in the back in the pouring rain and told me to just drive around. One asked for a paper towel, and then she dried off the chest of the other one and did coke off her breasts. Stuff like that happens all the time. I don’t want no one actually having sex, but if two girls wanna go at it, I’m not gonna say no.” — Cabdriver, Quaker City Cab Company

“Oh, I hear plenty of stories. Especially the Trenton line and Norristown line, the late-night rides. Lots of BJs.” — SEPTA Regional Rail conductor

“When I would sit at the front desk, I could sometimes hear people having sex in the first-floor guest rooms. In training, we were told that we weren’t allowed to call a guest to tell them they’d left something in the room because someone once called and told a man’s wife that she left behind lingerie and it turns out he hadn’t been there with the wife.” — Former GM of a Center City hotel

» See More from Our Sex in Philly Package

Can Clinton and Trump Supporters Agree on Anything?

Left to right: Kecia Hillard, Democrat; Roger Cho, Democrat; Michelle Mattus, Republican | Photographs by Claudia Gavin

Left to right: Kecia Hillard, Democrat; Roger Chu, Democrat; Michelle Mattus, Republican | Photographs by Claudia Gavin

The most rancorous presidential election in modern history has left voters in the Democratic stronghold of Southeastern Pennsylvania stunned and the country bitterly divided. But just how divided? We wanted to know what would happen if we got people with different opinions together in the same room just to talk — and listen — to each other. Could there possibly be any common ground? We sought out a few more-or-less-average voters representing a wide swath of our readership, demographically and politically, and asked them to speak frankly about what was important to them as they went to the polls and how they felt in the aftermath. In early December, Kecia Hilliard, 51, manager of an LGBT-friendly senior apartment building in Mount Airy, Michelle Mattus, 41, a Ridley Park insurance broker, and Roger Chu, 27, a Collingswood researcher, agreed to sit down with Philadelphia magazine editor Tom McGrath to test the waters. Their conversation has been edited for space and clarity. — Edited by Brian Howard Read more »

900AM-WURD and Philly Mag Announce Social Justice Podcast for MLK Day

MLK photo by the Associated Press

MLK photo by the Associated Press

Radio station 900AM-WURD and Philadelphia magazine announced on Wednesday that they have teamed up to create a special podcast around the topic of social justice.

The podcast will be released on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 16th, and hosted by Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris, an activist, journalist, regular contributor to WURD Radio, and the CEO of Techbook Online, and Malcolm Burnley, an associate editor at Philly Mag. Read more »

10 Trends for the Philly Food Scene in 2017

Pizza, pasta and booze at Wm. Mulherin's Sons in Fishtown | Photograph by Christopher Leaman

Pizza, pasta and booze at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown | Photograph by Christopher Leaman

We’ve reached a major point in the evolution of our food scene: the top. Pretty much every eatery and drinkery that opens in Philly these days — or ticks off another year of being in the biz — is really damn good. And really-damn-good as our baseline opens up a whole new world of epicurean pleasures. In 2017, we’ll dig in. How? Chefs are now waking up before sunrise to make sure your breakfast is as good as your dinner. Local distillers are serving you that glass of small-batch whiskey anywhere you want (even in Suburban Station). Restaurateurs are crafting neighborhood pizza joints with pies even Neapolitans would love. It’s good to be a hungry Philadelphian in 2017. Let’s eat.  Read more »

The Great Philadelphia Families

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Think of what Mark Twain said: “In Boston, they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?” Brotherly love, sisterly affection: There’s no denying that certain bloodlines have shaped — and are still shaping — this city and our lives.  Read more »

The Philadelphian’s 13-Step Guide to the Best Holiday Ever

A sweet rendering of the Philly skyline—complete with a tiny gingerbread William Penn—created by Bredenbeck’s Bakery in Chestnut Hill. | Photograph by Brett Thomas

A sweet rendering of the Philly skyline — complete with a tiny gingerbread William Penn — created by Bredenbeck’s Bakery in Chestnut Hill. | Photograph by Brett Thomas

Sure, there are some people who’ve been listening to Christmas music since October. For the rest of us, the holidays signal endless to-do lists, the death march of mall traffic, awkward office parties, and forced time with extended family. But with a bit of planning and know-how, navigating the holidays can be a breeze — and maybe even, gasp, fun. Consider this your holiday guidebook: how to get festive (charming tree farms! Awesome light displays! Latkes!), where to find the least-creepy mall Santas, and whether you really have to buy a gift for your kids’ bus driver. The most wonderful time of year, indeed. — Edited by Emily Goulet and Nicole Scott  Read more »

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