Morning Headlines: New Details on Comcast Skyscraper

Rendering of CITC. Photo courtesy of Comcast Corporate.

Rendering of CITC.
Image via Comcast Corporate.

After getting the regulatory process over three months ago, construction will soon begin on the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, a joint project between Comcast and developer Liberty Property Trust.

The future 18th and Arch tower will include a Four Seasons Hotel with 222 rooms, as well as office space for the broadcasting/cable bigwig, which, according to PBJ’s Natalie Kostelni, made some changes to its lease:

Comcast has expanded the amount of space that it will occupy. The cable giant signed a 20-years lease on 982,275 square feet, or about 74 percent of the 1.33-million-square-foot building. It had initially taken 957,000 square feet.

The 59-story structure, to-be the city’s tallest tower (and the tallest building outside of New York and Chicago), has a $933 million price tag, of which $40 million comes from public city and state funds. The latter amount “will go toward infrastructure improvements, such as extending the subway concourse.”

Comcast skyscraper construction begins; new details emerge [Business Journal]

In other news…

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Morning Headlines: PA and NJ Are in “20 Worst States to Make a Living”

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The website MoneyRates.com has published research results that rank the 50 states according to a proprietary metric they call Compensation and Quality Factor pertaining to employment. It’s based on four factors:

  • Average salary, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Cost of living, based on data from C2ER.
  • Employment rate, based on BLS data.
  • Workplace conditions, based on the “Work Environment” component of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The best state for job-searching and employment quality is Washington, which has one of the highest average incomes in the country. There’s also no state income tax and workplace conditions are tops.

The worst is Hawaii, which has a very high cost of living but wages that don’t compensate.

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Breaking University City Retail News

The image used to market the space. Via LoopNet.

The image used to market the space. Via LoopNet.

The bad news: Rittenhouse’s Hello World and Wash West’s Hello Home are closing. The good news: They’re combining to open a “lifestyle” store (also called Hello World) at 3610 Sansom Street—which is right near another so-called “lifestyle” store, Urban Outfitters. Only Urban isn’t accessible via the Penn Bookstore. Do we hear the sound of tooth-gnashing at the Navy Yard?

Shoppist’s Emily Goulet spoke with the owner of both stores, who worked with Michael Salove Company on the UCity real estate deal. He gave her more great news, like the opening of another store dedicated to midcentury furniture. But I won’t say any more! Go here for all the details:

BREAKING: Hello World and Hello Home are Combining Into One Huge University City Lifestyle Store [Shoppist]

Morning Headlines: Daily News Trumpets Mini AVI Results

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Philly.com has a story today that offers mixed messages about the results of the Actual Value Initiative, the property tax program that was put into place to fix a broken system. What was broken about it? The assessments were all wrong, and many of them were wrong because they were too low. Many homeowners were paying property taxes that were dreamy and terrific because they were a pittance, and that was great for them. But they were not an accurate reflection of the marketplace of the value of their home. A program to reassess was a long time coming, but it was Mayor Nutter who finally had the cojones to make it happen.

Now philly.com has two headlines (for a single story) that are sure to piss people off, but not for the right reasons.

Headline No. 1: Thousands of Philly home owners missing out on tax break
Headline No. 2: Final score on AVI: 54 percent received property tax increases

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Morning Headlines: DRPA Keeps Funding Economic Development Projects

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Bridge commuters will be interested in hearing this: Despite the Delaware River Port Authority putting an end to the funding of economic development projects (i.e. projects unrelated to transportation) two years ago, said projects continue to get money.

An example of this is the $2.2 million allotted “to guarantee bank loans made to the Battleship New Jersey on the Camden riverfront, L3 Communications Corp. in Camden, and the Ship Recycling Research Institute in South Philadelphia.” DRPA deputy CEO Michael Conallen says that if the loans are paid off, the $2.2 million “will revert back to the DRPA,” according to Philly.com’s Paul Nussbaum.

Nussbaum reports the DRPA, a self-sustaining transportation agency who’s borrowed close to $500 million over the last sixteen years for economic development, has “about $23 million left in its economic development fund.”

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Morning Headlines: Deteriorating Stone Wall in East Falls Costs Locals

East Falls - W. Penn and Midvale driveway screenshot

Beginning of driveway between W. Penn and Midvale, from Vaux Street corner.
Photo credit: Google Street View

Picture this: the 85-year-old retaining wall that divides your yard from the back street’s common driveway starts deteriorating. The damage extends for two blocks, and if unaddressed, will result in the collapse of your rear deck (as well as those of your neighbors). The city then does a structural report on it, which verifies its danger, and says you and other affected residents must pick up the repair bills.

That’s exactly what happened to some locals from East Falls.
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What’s With Those Gap-Toothed Developments in Francisville?

Gap-toothed townhomes on North 16th Street in Francisville

Francisville residents have gotten used to hearing the sound of hammers and saws around them — the neighborhood has become something of a builder’s paradise, thanks in no small part to the neighborhood’s community development corporation. Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation head Penelope Giles, in contrast to some of her peers in other low-income neighborhoods and with the support of many of her neighbors, has chosen to get out in front of gentrification rather than fight it. Letting the community guide the process, she argues, will benefit everyone.

It seems that some property owners in the neighborhood, however, don’t share her enthusiasm.

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PMC Plans Two New Logan Square Projects

A rendering of the proposed expansion of 1900 Arch Street. The expansion is the slim mass at the back, running parallel to 20th Street.

A rendering of the proposed expansion of 1900 Arch Street. The expansion is the slim mass at the back, running parallel to 20th Street.

Philadelphia’s PMC Property Group has been on the move lately. Construction is proceeding quickly on 1900 Arch, an apartment building adjacent to the proposed Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, and the company hopes to break ground later this summer on One Water Street, an apartment building just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Now the company is proposing two more new Logan Square projects: an 11-story expansion of 1900 Arch, and a 26-story tower at the corner of 23rd and Cherry streets.

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Morning Headlines: City Is Giving a Pass to Its Worst Tax Deadbeat

Photo | Ben Schumin.

Photo | Ben Schumin.

When you think of people who owe property taxes, you imagine an out-of-town landlord who doesn’t care that his blighted building is falling apart. You don’t tend to think of a major public agency that owes millions of dollars, but that’s the story here: SEPTA owes the city almost $22 million. Given that much of the city’s property taxes go to the schools, and given that the city is ready to sell its soul to fund the schools, it’s a bit of a surprise to learn it’s giving SEPTA a pass on that hefty bill.

It doesn’t seem as though the city necessarily wanted this to become public. Here’s how philly.com’s Sam Wood puts it:

A new 30-year agreement between the transit agency and city goes into effect on July 1 and it absolves SEPTA of the requirement to make good on the delinquency, which came to light in data collected by an economist at Penn’s Fels Institute of Government. Philly.com recently obtained the data.

And here’s the least persuasive answer to the question of why SEPTA hasn’t paid its taxes–an answer that sounds like something a kid would say when asked why he didn’t turn in his homework:

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Sweet Public Spaces and Development on the Waterfront

The water garden at Spruce Street Harbor Park, via the DRWC

The water garden at Spruce Street Harbor Park, via the DRWC

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), which is giving a shot of adrenaline to Philadelphia’s underused waterfront, is planning several new public spaces to draw people to the water and spur investment. You may have already heard about Spruce Street Harbor Park, a pop-up opening Friday, that’ll have floating barges and gardens, fountains, a boardwalk, a “mist garden,” lots of neat lighting, and a floating restaurant by Jose Garces. A large team of the region’s top designers and architects worked together on the project, including Groundswell Design Group, Interface Studios, and Digsau, as well as The Heads of State (for branding).

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