KOP Becomes the Montreal of Malls

kop-front

When a co-worker first heard that the King of Prussia Mall would be expanding, she wrote, via chat, “WHY IS KING OF PRUSSIA EXPANDING??? IT’S ALREADY LIKE 55 MILES WORTH OF SHOPPING. I can’t.” This was a legitimate response, especially for those of us with credit card debt.

But the expansion isn’t just about shopping. It’s also about warmth, since one must now go outside to walk between the two malls, The Court and The Plaza. The expansion will make the entire site fully enclosed. For renderings and details, go here.

Bart Blatstein Plans Mixed-Use Complex in South Philly

The vacant lot at Broad and Washington that Blatstein wants to develop. Photo via Google Street View.

The vacant lot at Broad and Washington that Blatstein wants to develop. Photo via Google Street View.

With casino fever taking over yesterday, it was easy to overlook another project Bart Blatstein, one of the applicants who lost out on Philadelphia’s second gaming license, has in mind for the city.

If you will recall, rumors of a Wegmans coming to South Philadelphia sprung up earlier this year after he expressed interest in developing a vacant lot at the corner of Broad and Washington. Those rumors were squashed pretty quickly and, a few months later, Blatstein presented a clearer picture of what he wanted to do: a verticle Piazza-like community with “every amenity known to mankind.”

Yesterday, that idea was scratched.

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Senator: Lack of Diversity in Philly Casino License

Here’s a statement from Sen. Vincent Hughes that’s come across the transom in the wake of the announcement that the PA Gaming Control Board has awarded the second casino license to Stadium Casino LLC, aka Live! Hotel and Casino:

“I am extremely disappointed to learn that qualified minority-owned companies will not be given the opportunity to participate in Pennsylvania’s gaming industry. The Gaming Control Board had an opportunity to ensure that the second casino license in Philadelphia was awarded to an investor group that reflected the demographics of our city. That did not happen. This is another missed opportunity to promote minority-owned businesses in a statewide industry that has been very successful thus far with the exception of diversity.

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The Second Philly Casino License Goes to Live!

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

The PA Gaming Control Board has just publicly voted to award the second Philadelphia casino license to Stadium Casino LLC, operating as Live! This is just the initial phase of the licensing. The decision is subject to appeal, and therefore the Board will not comment on the decision. The meeting has just ended, but before it did, PA Gaming Control Board Chairman Bill Ryan said that the denials of the other three petitioners had nothing to do with lack of character or integrity in the other contenders. Rather, the decision was based on the following factors: the protection of the public; public interest and the social effects of gambling; the integrity and control of the slots business; tax revenues and tourism in Pennsylvania.

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Ugly Allegations Enter Philly Casino License Picture

fox 29 still

A still from the Fox29 report.

Someone affiliated with one of the four casino bidders (not Live!) sent me the below video this morning, shortly after I saw the same story on philadelinquency.com. The allegation is this: The expected announcement that Live! will win the bid for Philly’s second casino license today may be, in part, due to a romantic relationship between a lead attorney for the Live! project and a lawyer who worked, until earlier this year, for the PA Gaming Board. PDQ’s Chris Sawyer calls it a “sexual conspiracy theory”; Fox29 takes it more seriously, and speaks with the interim head of the Committee of Seventy about it:

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Morning Headlines: Gentrification and How Cities Try to Help Displaced Residents

With gentrification in Philadelphia becoming a hot topic last month thanks to seven series pull-out section in the Daily News (as well as a recent Onion article on the subject that didn’t really feel like satire), it seems fitting that we should at least take a look at what other cities are doing to deal with gentrification’s drawbacks.

This morning, Sandy Smith offered up a taste of what three cities (and the entire state of Missouri) are doing to help low to middle-income residents who are at risk for being displaced as a result of rising home values, which, Smith writes, aside from displacing long-time residents who can no longer afford to live in a neighborhood with increasing rents, cities experiencing gentrification often have perpetually blighted neighborhoods that could otherwise be put to good use.

Smith includes Philadelphia’s PHL Tax Loop program among the examples, which you can read on Next City.

How Cities and States Are Fighting Gentrification’s Displacement Factor [Next City]

In other news…

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Will South Philly Beat Out Center City for a Casino?

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Tomorrow the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board holds a special meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at which it publicly votes on who gets Philadelphia’s second casino license. There are four bidders — two in Center City (The Provence at 400 North Broad Street and Market8 at 8th and Market) and two in South Philly (Casino Revolution at 3333 South Front Street and Live! Hotel and Casino at 900 Packer Ave.) — waiting for word.

Because the whole thing has taken so damn long, we asked Doug Harbach, PGCB spokesperson, what would happen if the vote is deadlocked tomorrow. You know, just in case. Ain’t gonna happen.

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Morning Headlines: 500 Walnut Gets Design Approval Recommendation


500Walnut-Rendering-new copy The proposed 500 Walnut tower that would overlook Independence Hall may have already received zoning approval, but its developer and architect still had one more group to convince for its design last week. This past Friday, they got just that as the Philadelphia Historical Commission gave the newly tweaked building an approval recommendation.

PlanPhilly’s Matt Golas reports Cecil Baker, the architect chosen for the Scannapieco Development project, presented his alterations before the commission, the commission’s Architectural Committe and the Philadelphia Art Commission. Changes included a proposal for the use of “greenish glass and metal curtain walls, with areas of stone classing to the base” and “a mix of metal-frame windows and multi-story window walls” for the upper floors.

Baker’s adjustments to 500 Walnut comes from input he received from commission members, local residents and the National Park Service. Here’s more from PlanPhilly: Read more »

Morning Headlines: Egregious Case of Philly’s Civil Forfeiture Process

Some time ago, Isaiah Thompson did an extensive story on the city’s controversial civil asset forfeiture process, which grants law enforcement officials the power to seize a person’s home and assets (i.e. money, car, other real estate) if suspected of criminal activity.

The keyword there is suspected because regardless of whether they’ve actually had a prior charge or conviction, their property can still be confiscated.

This system has resulted in devastating situations for many families and individuals. Complicating matters even further, some civil asset forfeiture cases have been handled by corrupt officers, as was that of Kevin Floyd who, Thompson now reports, was forced out of his home with his family by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on the grounds that he was suspected of drug possession with intent to deliver. (The case dated back to 2010 and Floyd had not even had his day in court yet.)

Then, his charges were dropped. From the City Paper:  Read more »

Morning Headlines: Casino Developer Faces NIMBY Opposition in South Philly

 

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Earlier this week, Joel Mathis announced that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will soon bestow Philadelphia’s second casino license to one of the four applicants left. But with rumors that one of the contenders has the license in the bag, and the approval not due till the 18th, residents in South Philadelphia are rallying in protest.

According to NewsWorks’ Bill Hangley, residents are fighting against Stadium Casinos, LLC’s proposed Live! Hotel and Casino that would be at 10th and Packer. Their main issue with the proposed development? It’s proximity to the stadium complex. From NewsWorks:  Read more »

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