Pearl Art Supply to Become Millennium Dance Complex

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The space, in progress. | Photo by Lauren Mame Thomas

Our sweet, beloved Pearl Art & Crafts — another Philly retail stalwart (like Daffy’s and Strawbridge’s and Bonwit’s), whose closure was met with great gnashing of teeth. It seemed like the last vestige of South Street’s artistic, bohemian phase.

But things change and commercial corridors evolve and choreographers who work with Justin Bieber and Beyonce need a place to teach, dammit! Now they have one. Millennium Dance Complex is going to be a massive endeavor entirely devoted to anything and everything related to dance. The 39,000-square-foot space will specialize in workshops and drop-in dance classes that’ll cater to all ages, dance styles and experience level. So even if you think you can’t dance…

Here’s the plan: phase one has a target opening of Nov. 28th. The first floor will have dance studios of various types and windows looking out onto South Street, so that passersby can watch classes. Also:
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Daffy’s Reopens As Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom-Rack

The line outside Nordstrom Rack on opening day, just before doors opened at 9am. | Photo by Tim Haas.

Discount retailer Daffy’s was in business for 20 years at 1700 Chestnut when it closed in 2012. Before that, the space was occupied by the independently owned department store Bonwit Teller, which I remember, from my childhood, as a wonderland of perfume mist and well-dressed ladies and hard-plastic name tags pinned to gray cardigans. Bonwit’s closed in 1990. A year prior to its closure, the Inquirer’s Susan Warner spoke to Ross Brightwell, who worked with the Chestnut Street Association, about what would happen if Bonwit’s left Chestnut Street.

…[Brightwell] said merchants would try to assure that another high-quality tenant would move into the space being vacated by Bonwit. “It’s very sad,” he said. “When you lose a name like Bonwit Teller, it will just reinforce this perception that Center City Philadelphia is on a downward spiral.”

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Morning Headlines: Kenney Wants to Preserve and Protect

jim kenney philly

As if decriminalizing marijuana weren’t enough, City Councilman Jim Kenney has proposed a double whammy of legislation that could improve the city’s inadequate system of preserving historic properties. From the Inquirer:

City Councilman James Kenney introduced two bills Thursday: One would transfer $500,000 to the [Philadelphia Historic] commission, the other would add at least 1,000 properties to the city’s register of historic places. There are thousands of Philadelphia properties on the National Register of Historic Places that are not on the local register.

“If it’s significant enough to be on the federal list, it could be significant enough to be on the local register,” Kenney said.

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Photos: Strawbridge’s Becomes Century 21

Century-21

Yesterday morning I went to take a look at what was once Strawbridge and Clothier and is now Century 21 — not a real estate agency, but the Gallery’s new 100,000-square-foot anchor store. Our sister site Shoppist has plenty of information about names you’ll find (Milly, Y-3, Tumi, Le Creuset, etc.) and where you’ll find them (first floor or second). I didn’t take notes on that because I was too obsessed with looking for, and finding, historical details that might ricochet me back to the days when Strawbridge’s was still a thriving entity. After all, that was an important part of Philadelphia’s history. In 1996, when the company was passed from the Strawbridge family hands to the May company, the New York Times published what amounted to a eulogy, “Philadelphia Keeps Strawbridge Name but Loses a Retail Tradition.”

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Gentrification in Philadelphia

daily news special section

The DN’s special section appears in today’s print edition as well as online.

For those who think daily newspapers lack a purpose in a digitized world that threatens to make traditional media outlets obsolete, today’s coverage of gentrification in a Daily News special section is a firm rejoinder. The seven articles that comprise “The Problems and the Promise: Gentrification in Philadelphia” is a pull-out section of the print edition and a microsite at philly.com. It illuminates the issues around the word that’s probably the most contested and least understood of any used to refer to real estate and development battles in the city.

The project isn’t perfect. There are missteps — like the boldfaced use of the term “Templetown.” But there are important myths that get debunked, and crucial facts that must be called to every Philadelphian’s attention before they expound on gentrification. Because, oh boy, do people expound. I hear far too much strident talk about “gentrification” from people ill-equipped to understand it. This series should help.

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Morning Headlines: Renovation Project at 4601 Market Breaks Ground

Photo credit: Laura Kicey

Photo credit: Laura Kicey

The Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building at 46th and Market has seen a small number of tenants come and go, but for the most part it’s remained relatively vacant. Now, since making official requests earlier this year, the property is under city ownership and plans for its renovation have started.

West Philly Local reports the 87-year-old structure, which will be rehabbed so that it can house new occupants, had its groundbreaking ceremony yesterday. During this, Mayor Nutter announced the building would be referred to as “the Philadelphia Public Safety Services campus.” The site will house the new headquarters of the Philadelphia Police Department, the Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Department of Health public laboratories.

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Morning Headlines: Navy Yard Nabs Another HQ

The Navy Yard master plan. Photo credit: NavyYard.org

The Navy Yard master plan. Photo credit: NavyYard.org

Add another notch in the belt for the Navy Yard: Bala Cynwyd-based NXTsports, which is an organization that offers sports education, events and facilities management, will relocate to the corporate campus that’s home to Urban Outfitters, Glaxo SmithKline and many others. From the Philadelphia Business Journal:

NXTsports currently leases space at 555 City Ave. and considered remaining in the building when it launched its search. It also looked at other office properties in Bala Cynwyd, Conshohocken, Pa., and at the Navy Yard.
“We love the vibe down there,” said Joel Zuercher, chief operating officer and general counsel at the company. “We are a young, energetic company and it seems like that is the place to be for a growing business such as ours.”

NXTsports has gone from three employees to 20 in the last three years and it expects to continue growing. The new space will give its some extra room to accommodate that growth.

NXTsports picks Navy Yard for new headquarters

More headlines, this way…

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22nd and Market Memorial Park Names Artist

building collapse

Photo of woman at demolition site paying honor to one of the collapse victims. Photo: Laura Kicey.

The most recent Center City Residents Association Newsletter has an update on the memorial park proposed for 22nd and Market, the site of the June 2013 building collapse responsible for the death of seven people: artist Barbara Fox has been selected to design the memorial sculpture. From the newsletter:

As for her winning concept, Fox says she wanted the families to be able to personalize the memorial for themselves. “My idea was to have windows in a house-shaped piece, and each victim’s family could customize how the window would look so that it would mean something to them, like the color of the glass or the texture of the glass. The name of each of the six victims would be etched into the granite over each window. Then, there would be a seventh window for individuals who were injured in the collapse. Above that window it would say ‘for those we remember’. “

All due respect to Fox, who was obviously speaking very preliminarily, let’s memorialize the death of seven people, rather than six, so that Ronald Waggenhoffer is not forgotten. (In case you have forgotten him, read this piece about his suicide.) He was a victim too, and deserves his own window.

Property’s Weekend Agenda: Relive the Glory Days of Hohendel House

Have a cold brew at a house party that celebrates the newly renovated Hohenadel House in East Falls! This Saturday, the party will include recreated Hohenadel brews by local homebrewer Tom Coughlin, live music, and a pop-up museum with “period-appropriate furniture” and other artifacts. Further event details below.

Back in the mid-nineties, Hohenadel Brewery in East Falls was an endangered landmark that went on to be demolished in 1997. The home of the defunct brewery’s owner seemed to be heading in the same direction.

According to Philly.com, the historic mansion that once housed the Hohenadel family was in such a state of disrepair that graffiti artists, squatters, and a whole other slew of blight connoisseurs had taken over. One day, someone stepped in: Read more »

Gallery: This Is What A Shuttered Philadelphia School Looks Like

Photo credit: Conrad Benner

Photo credit: Conrad Benner

If you’ve been following coverage of the school closings that swept the city, news of how the former Edward H. Bok Technical High School would be living its second life may not come as a surprise.

Last month, we reported how developer Lindsey Scannapieco plans to transform the building into what Next City calls “the city’s largest creative community space.” Indeed, Scannapieco envisions a mixed-use building with rental units, terraces, co-working spaces (a feature which, while growing in the city, is sorely lacking in East Passyunk), and a rooftop cinema. Until then, however, Bok is being used as a storage center.

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