SEPTA Wins State Environmental Award

A program that captures power generated by braking trains and feeds it to batteries via the third rail has earned SEPTA the state's highest award for environmental excellence. | Photo: Mturch from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

A program that captures power generated by braking trains and feeds it to batteries via the third rail has earned SEPTA the state’s highest award for environmental excellence. | Photo: Mturch from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

An innovative program to save energy and produce revenue by capturing the power generated by rapid transit trains as they brake has earned SEPTA the state’s highest honor for commitment to the environment.

At yesterday’s SEPTA board meeting, the state Department of Environmental Protection bestowed the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence t0 the agency for its wayside energy storage project at the Griscom substation on the Market-Frankford Line. The Griscom storage facility was the second such battery installation on the line; the success of this facility and an earlier one at Letterly substation led SEPTA to expand the program systemwide and add a revenue-producing power management component to it in partnership with Viridity Energy, which sells excess storage capacity to the PJM Interconnection power pool when needed. Read more »

Philly Maintains Pace in Walk Score Rankings

East Passyunk Avenue's eclectic collection of shops and restaurants have played a major role in improving their neighborhood's walkability. | Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

East Passyunk Avenue’s eclectic collection of shops and restaurants have played a major role in improving their neighborhood’s walkability. | Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia™

No American city, not even New York, is a “Walker’s Paradise,” according to Walk Score, the outfit that rates communities according to how easy it is to access places on foot (and by bike and transit).

But nine of the top 10, including No. 4 Philadelphia, are rated “Very Walkable” by Walk Score.

New York, as always, topped the walkability ratings with a Walk Score of 89 – just shy of “Walker’s Paradise” status. In a “Walker’s Paradise,” daily errands do not require a car to perform them. Most errands can be performed without one in “Very Walkable” neighborhoods. Read more »

That House Out There: A Home Fit for an Architect in Chestnut Hill

7620 Lincoln Dr., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 | Images courtesy The Sivel Group

7620 Lincoln Dr., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 | Images courtesy The Sivel Group

Usually, the presence of the word “charming” in a real estate listing is a code word for “small.” But we can’t think of a better term to describe this one-of-a-kind Arts & Crafts home in the St. Martins section of Chestnut Hill.

After all, the Arts & Crafts movement celebrated the charm of artisanship, and there’s plenty of that in evidence in this home, built in 1913 by architect Robert McGoodwin as his personal residence. But as its copious use of stone should indicate, it was built to be a home of substance and character as well as one of charm. Read more »

CCD Releases 2016 State of Center City Report

Repeat after us: Things continue to get better on the whole in Center City. But the city's anemic performance on employment growth keeps it from achieving its full potential and contributes to the city's persistently high poverty rate as well. | Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia™

Repeat after us: Things continue to get better on the whole in Center City. But the city’s anemic performance on employment growth keeps it from achieving its full potential and contributes to the city’s persistently high poverty rate as well. | Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia™

It’s become something of a mantra each spring when the Center City District releases its annual “State of Center City” report at its quarterly meeting at the Union League:

CCD President Paul Levy rattles off a bunch of statistics that show robust growth on a number of fronts all over Center City: Residential construction, hospitality and tourism stats, patronage at arts and culture venues, the strength of the eds-and-meds sector, commercial office space absorption, you name it.

Then he gets to the part about office employment and overall job growth and puts up a huge asterisk.

So it was this year. Read more »

5 Cool Homes Near Circuit Trails

The Schuylkill River Trail in Montgomery County, part of the Circuit trail network. | Photo by Flickr user Montgomery County Planning Association

The Schuylkill River Trail in Montgomery County, part of the Circuit trail network. | Photo by Flickr user Montgomery County Planning Association

As we reported last week, developers and homeowners are finding that having a bike/hike trail near their property is a bankable amenity.

That’s because, as a recent Urban Land Institute report documented, “active transportation” facilities increase the value of properties adjacent to them.

One of the most extensive such active transportation networks is The Circuit, an evolving 750-mile network of dedicated bike and hiking trails spanning the nine-county Greater Philadelphia region. The ULI report featured it as an example of transformative transportation facilities.

If you are in the market for a new home, you might want to consider one of these homes currently on the market if you’d like to have the option of commuting by bike or just want to have better recreation options nearby: Read more »

Brian Sims Hangs On; Tonyelle Cook-Artis and Mark Cohen Get Booted

Mark Cohen, Brian Sims and Tonyelle Cook-Artis

Mark Cohen, Brian Sims and Tonyelle Cook-Artis. Photos | Facebook

There was a pretty shocking upset in the Democratic state House primary races yesterday: A very briefly tenured representative — who was the preferred candidate of Philadelphia’s surging Northwest Coalition — was knocked out of her seat. Harrisburg’s longest-serving Harrisburg representative was dumped by voters, too. And in the state Senate, an incumbent is holding onto a slim lead over a young challenger, but the race is too close to call.

None of the city’s Republican state representatives faced challenges in this year’s primary, but there were contested elections in 11 House and Senate districts on the Democratic side overall. In all but one of the races — the one in the 170th House District in the Northeast, where a Republican holds the seat — incumbents, some of them elected only last month, faced challenges from one or more candidates.

Five of the contests warrant special mention: Read more »

A Walk Around Philadelphia – Literally

Border explorers, from left to right: JJ Tiziou, Adrienne Mackey, Ann de Forest and Samantha Ward. Photo | Adachi Pimentel

Border explorers, from left to right: JJ Tiziou, Adrienne Mackey, Ann de Forest and Samantha Wend. Photo | Adachi Pimentel

Can you tell where Philadelphia ends and the suburbs begin without a sign to tell you?

For most of their 102-mile walk along the Philadelphia city line, writer Ann De Forest, theater director Adrienne Mackey, and photographer JJ Tiziou couldn’t either. But aside from finding a border that wasn’t, the group found the trek itself as fascinating as anything they saw along the way.

And they did find some interesting things along the way. Read more »

Utley Puts All-Star Home on the Market

1432 Monk Rd., Gladwyne, PA 19035 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

1432 Monk Rd., Gladwyne, PA 19035 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

So who will be the next famous athlete to live in this modern-Colonial hybrid in Gladwyne?

We’re not saying that the next owner will definitely be a famous athlete, but two of the last three owners were. Phillies second baseman Chase Utley purchased this home, which was built in 1998, in 2013 for $2.325 million from its then-owner, who bought it in 2006 from retired 76ers star Allen Iverson for $2.85 million. Utley then gutted it and renovated it in a more contemporary style. Read more »

Movin’ On Up Just Got A Little Harder Hereabouts, According to Zillow

The number of high-end homes on the market in the Philadelphia area rose over the last year while inventory in the bottom and middle fell. If it's any comfort, the most expensive homes are also the most likely to experience price cuts, according to Zillow. Photo: David Baron | Flickr

The number of high-end homes on the market in the Philadelphia area rose over the last year while inventory in the bottom and middle fell. If it’s any comfort, the most expensive homes are also the most likely to experience price cuts, according to Zillow. Photo: David Baron | Flickr

Those Millennials flocking here from New York in search of affordable starter homes may find themselves waiting a little longer to get one now.

Figures for Philadelphia released by Zillow.com Thursday in conjunction with its Real Estate Market Report for the first quarter of 2016 show that house values rose across the board in Philadelphia, but they rose faster at the bottom than at the top of the market, and they rose even faster in the middle, while inventory of all but the most expensive houses shrank. Read more »

King of Prussia Moves to Put the “Urban” in “Suburban”

The King of Prussia District covers the areas shown on the map above. Image | ConnectKOP.com

The King of Prussia District covers the areas shown on the map above. Image | ConnectKOP.com

“King of Prussia is a suburban community and it will remain a suburban community.”

So said Eric Goldstein, executive director of the King of Prussia District, when we spoke about the currents of urbanity that flow through the business improvement district’s latest “Report to the Community.”

Those currents are there, however, because the district can see the writing on the wall. Or, more accurately, the footsteps on the sidewalk.

And what that means is that, much like its well-known counterpart outside Washington, Tysons Corner, the biggest edge city north of Tysons is giving itself injections of urbanity in hopes of attracting a new generation of businesses and workers. Read more »

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