Photo | Jeff Fusco
City Council was back in session yesterday, and Jared Brey at PlanPhilly has the details on bills introduced by Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla and Darrell Clarke.
Johnson’s bill is designed to extend the city’s Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP) in order to provide access to owners who live in government-subsidized housing. As it stands now, LOOP only includes residents who have owned their homes for at least 10 years and whose income doesn’t exceed 150 percent of the Area Median Income.
LOOP prevents qualified residents’ tax bills from increasing by more than 300 percent (300 percent!) in a year. Residents who already benefit from a tax abatement are excluded from the program, meaning that under the current rules, homeowners in subsidized housing can’t qualify. Johnson explained the plan to amend LOOP to Brey:
“Right now, individuals who live in affordable housing—obviously, they don’t have a certain amount of income, their taxes may have tripled, and currently they don’t qualify for the tax relief under LOOP because they have had some type of abatement in the past. But also, they’re in some type of a catch 22, because they can’t sell their homes because of a deed restriction, so the legislation that we introduced today will allow them to have the opportunity to participate in LOOP.”
Squilla and Clarke introduced bills related to rezoning efforts, neither of which were entirely surprising. Squilla wants to rezone a tiny part of Society Hill to allow commercial mixed-use and Clarke’s bill rezones neighborhoods west of Temple in exactly the way the Planning Commission predicted months ago.
All of which might explain why Claudia Vargas called Council’s agenda “tepid” in yesterday’s Inquirer.
New bills focus on housing affordability, zoning remapping [PlanPhilly]
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With entertaining spaces that were designed by Peter Zimmerman and a plum corner lot in the St. Martins neighborhood in Chestnut Hill, Rock House is a dream. So it should come as no surprise that the home is being sold by local bold-faced names Joseph Dworetzky and Amy Banse. You may recognize him from his days as city solicitor under Ed Rendell’s mayorship or his more recent stint on the School Reform Commission. Banse is the managing director at Comcast Ventures as well as their head of funds.
The estate clocks more than 10,000 square feet of living space, spanning six bedrooms, six full baths and a fully finished basement. The Zimmerman-designed kitchen (plus pantry) and family room make stylish gathering spaces. The formal living and dining rooms are traditional and adjoin an enclosed sunporch. En-suite bedrooms take most of the additional two floors, along with several other offices. The basement features a media room, a workshop and a powder room.
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Maybe she liked the renderings better?
The torrent of accolades for the city’s newest public (well, “public,” but more on that in a second) park continued through the weekend … right until Inga Saffron’s review dropped on Sunday.
Saffron begins innocuously enough, praising the cafe and popular spray fountain. Things start to turn when she italicizes the word “park.” Uh oh. Then the death blow:
But the vast granite prairie is still very much a plaza, with all the weaknesses the word implies.
To be clear, Saffron had no love for the park’s predecessor. And she does concede that the CCD has made some major improvements:
There is no doubt that this important civic space, once a smelly, run-down municipal embarrassment in the heart of Philadelphia, has been greatly improved by the Center City District’s Paul Levy, who marshaled a dream team of Philadelphia’s most renowned designers and engineers. The amenities, from the food vendor to the picnic lawn, are reason enough to applaud.
But what follows is a thorough catalog of the park’s deficiencies. Most of all, she seems offended by the amount of hardscape. The park misses the mark when it comes to balancing its position as Philadelphia’s “communal family room” while maintaining enough pomp for the city’s “civic stage,” Saffron says.
Yes, there is real magic when the fountain’s jets of water shoot into action, but inactivated, the granite landscape is dry and stiff. The new Dilworth is a suit in a jeans-and-T-shirt world.
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Renderings are beginning to meet reality.
As you surely know by now, Dilworth Plaza turned into Dilworth Park yesterday. Every media outlet in town turned up for the party, and while they all basically said the same thing (spoiler: they really, really like it), there is something to be said for the sheer volume of coverage.
The Daily News’s Jenny DeHuff might have summed the crowd up best:
Planned for months, yesterday’s ribbon-cutting was a lovefest of who’s who at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the minds and bodies that brought the project to fruition.
At The Inquirer, Chris Hepp and Paul Nussbaum do a great job of reminding us all that this public space has been heavily financed through private dollars.
The project evolved into what [Center City District President Paul] Levy called a “model private-public partnership.”
That partnership is evident in the funding. Major contributors include the state ($16.35 million), the Center City District ($15 million), the Federal Transit Administration ($15 million), the city ($5.75 million), and SEPTA ($4.3 million). The William Penn Foundation provided $1.2 million.
They also captured this rather unfortunate quote from the first visitor through SEPTA’s fancy new turnstiles.
The first customer through the new turnstiles – equipped to handle both existing passes and future “smart cards” – was Lou Hoffer, 30, of Center City.
“It’s fancy,” said Hoffer. “It feels like New York.”
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There is a lot to love about this stylish Mt. Airy home. The stone facade is classic, the hardwood floors are gleaming, the kitchen is new and there is roof deck potential. But our favorite detail is the third-floor playroom, which has been made over as Mt. Airy’s own private family Småland, replete with all of the Swedish retailer’s most colorful children’s accessories.
Down on the ground floor, the home features a handsome foyer that gives way to a living room with fireplace and built-in cupboards. The brand-new kitchen features a built-in of its own: an island-style gas stovetop range. There is a breakfast room adjacent to the kitchen with richly patterned wallpaper and yet more built-in storage. Upstairs the five bedrooms are split between the second and third floors, most with adjoining bathrooms. The third floor has room for one bedroom, a bath, and the darling playroom.
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Somehow, the dramatic, tree-lined driveway is not the most theatrical element at Belgrave Farm. Nor is it the stunning kitchen nor the vast, 36-acre plot of land. The most breathtaking detail at the 200-year-old Chester County farm is the enormous waterfall out back, which flows into a pristine private pond.
The interior is impressive all on its own. The home has a meticulous design, which architect Peter Zimmerman has added to via a series of additions. The kitchen features high-end appliances throughout, and seven bedrooms fill the upper floors. Views span the Ridley Creek stream.
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Photo by Liz Spikol.
Less than a year ago, the news out of the Post Brothers’ Goldtex building was drama, controversy and inflatable rats. Which is why Inga Saffron, in today’s Inquirer, is expressing genuine surprise that not only have the former adversaries moved beyond attacking each other, but that the building itself seems to be – dare we say it – an example of good design.
The surprise is that the renovated factory emerged from the debacle with its architectural integrity intact.
“There must be something in the water,” she writes, explaining that both Electricians Local 98 boss John Dougherty and developer Michael Pestronk both expressed some regret over the affair.
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Photo by Laura Kicey.
Thirty years after building their dream home in Wawa, Delaware County, Jo Ann Townsend and her husband realized they needed a change.
“What we liked then was not what we wanted now,” Townsend said.
The couple had originally purchased nine acres of land from her husband’s parents. Her father-in-law was an architect who designed the home specifically to synchronize with the sun. In the summer, the home would be shaded. In the winter, the sun would stream through the all-glass wall in the living room .
Upstairs, the couple later added a three-story addition to the home. It enlarged the top-level bedroom but they didn’t have a clear idea of what to do with all the extra square footage.
“Lots of room with no sense or space planning,” Townsend said.
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Kellie Patrick Gates parses a hefty city planning commission survey at PlanPhilly this morning. Among the findings that might surprise you if you still subscribe to antiquated notions about renters: they are “highly committed” to their neighborhoods; many choose to rent despite their ability to buy; and the most highly committed renters in Philly appear to live outside Center City.
Among the findings that night not surprise you:
Other factors that respondents said kept them from buying included some Philadelphia-specific criticisms: School quality (31 percent), taxes (29 percent), the feeling they could get more house for less money outside the city (27 percent).
The report also found that Center City renters love exactly what you think they’d love. Restaurants, amenities and walkability. Renters in neighborhoods outside Center City cited closeness to friends and family as behind their decisions to rent where they do.
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The listing for this contemporary estate in Chestnut Hill pegs its construction somewhere around 1974. Which would make it about 120 years younger than its closest neighbor, the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Like its neighbor, the home features lots of lush green land and plenty of 215 cachet.
The home features five bedrooms and three full baths on just more than an acre of land. Glass doors and wall-sized windows allow plenty of light but the secluded setting ensures privacy. The kitchen is ringed with custom cabinets and also includes a large center island and top-of-the-line appliances like a six-burner Viking stove. A two-story addition makes room for a garden room, family room, TV room and sun room (in another house, these four rooms would be the same). The master suite includes a private bath with a sauna and six enormous closets.
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