Morning Headlines: 18th-Century Philadelphia Goes to China

"Cliveden Mansion, Philadelphia, HABS PA-1184-88" by Jack E. Boucher - Historic American Buildings Survey; Library of Congress HABS PA,51-GERM,64-88. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cliveden_Mansion,_Philadelphia,_HABS_PA-1184-88.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Cliveden_Mansion,_Philadelphia,_HABS_PA-1184-88.jpg

Cliveden, via Wikimedia Commons.

The village is called Southern 1910, will look exactly like Society Hill and will be in Dalian, a coastal city in northeastern China. The Inquirer’s Erin Arvedlund has the details on how Chadds Ford’s John Milner Architects won the business and impressed Chinese developers.

Dalian Common Property Development retained John Milner Architects to design and plan the gated community, where 200 Georgian-style brick homes will sell for between $1 million and $4 million. Of those, 65 have already been sold, ranging from 3,500 to a whopping 7,500 square feet.

In order to win the business in the first place, Milner told Arvedlund that he arranged a two-week long series of bus tours for the Chinese developers. They visited Fairmount Park, Cliveden and Mount Pleasant, among other 18th century city sites.

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South Philly’s Bok School Will Become a Hub for Creative People

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Photo of Edward W Bok School via Wikimedia Commons.

If the former Edward W. Bok School actually is transformed the way developer Lindsey Scannapieco plans, it’ll be the city’s “largest creative community space,” according to the nonprofit urbanism org Next City, which presciently made Scannapieco a 2014 Next City Vanguard member. Scannapieco’s company, Scout Ltd., was picked by the Philadelphia School District and School Reform Commission (SRC) after an open auction process moderated by PIDC. Now Scout is tasked with refashioning the hulking block-long building—we’re talking 340,000 square feet—into a dynamic multi-use space that’ll cater to artists, entrepreneurs, and “Philadelphia creatives.”

From the project website:

Offering an unprecedented concentration of space for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) innovators, artists and entrepreneurs, our proposed new use will channel the maker and craftsman roots of Bok’s history into a new showcasing space for Philadelphia’s leading creative talent. Featuring on-site parking, high volume spaces, hardwood floors, heavy floor loading capacities and a critical mass of creatives, this building will be unlike anything else within the region.

There will be:

    - “affordable” rental apartments
    - 5 roof terraces for public use, i.e., rooftop cinema, outdoor beer terraces
    - variety of work spaces
    - ground floor with “active, engaged and innovative uses that will build on the energy and new businesses of the East Passyunk Crossing neighborhood.”

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Hot Yoga Coming to Whole Foods Squared

Priya Hot Yoga, currently undergoing construction.

I’ve decided to call the area around Callowhill between 18th and 22nd Whole Foods Squared, since there will be two Whole Foods within mere blocks of each other, one of which will be on Rodin Square. It’s one of those invented sub-neighborhood names that will surely take off. At least on this blog.

At any rate, the newest addition to the WFS ’hood will be a hot yoga studio at 1828 Callowhill, around the corner from WF#1, where yoga mats and refillable bottles are on sale.

And with 293 luxury apartments opening just blocks away, I’d say Priya Hot Yoga‘s owners have the right idea.

“There’s a lot of great energy in that neighborhood,” co-owner Katie Sandy told Be Well Philly. “I think it’s just a very positive neighborhood, and we thought it could use something like this.”

Sandy and has two business partners in the venture, whose 2,200-square-foot space will also include a sit-down cafe. Smart, smart, smart.

For more, check out our sister site’s coverage over here.

NY Firm Buys LEED Gold Building in Bucks County

Photo courtesy of Elysha Chang at Meelo and Chloe.

Photo courtesy of Elysha Chang at Meelo and Chloe.

Ten minutes north of the Oxford Valley Mall is an unobtrusive building recently acquired the Advalurem Group, a New York-based real estate investment firm. The property, located at 1000 Floral Vale went for $19 million.

Built in November of 2009, the 89,000-square-foot office building in Bucks County holds a LEED Gold certification for “meeting energy efficient and environmentally safe design standards”. The construction, which has 80 percent of its space leased, caught the firm’s attention upon realizing its location would prove advantageous.

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Morning Headlines: SRC to Sell 11 Schools for $2 Million Net

"Germantown HS Philly" by Smallbones - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Germantown HS Philly by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons.

The School Reform Commission approving the sale of 11 Philadelphia schools is big news this morning, punctuated with some pretty big numbers. The Daily News’s Solomon Leach has details on how the sales will break down.

The two biggest parcels are each going for $6.8 million. Germantown High, Carroll High, Fulton Elementary, Walter Smith Elementary and Abigail Vare Elementary are all going to the Concordia Group. Two of the elementary schools – Vare and Smith – are slated to become residential buildings.

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Morning Headlines: 40th Street Trolley Station Redesign Plan Gets More Funding

Photo credit: University City District website.

Rendering of the planned renovation.
Photo credit: University City District website.

According to the Daily Pennsylvanian’s Sophia White, the University City District, which has been fundraising for the 40th Street trolley station redesign project since 2012, has “raised $1.4 million of its $2 million goal.” Added to this sum is a recent $6,500 award to the project, courtesy of PECO and Natural Lands Trust.

White reports that Lori Brennan, UCD’s spokesperson, sees the renovation as ideal given its location as a “crossroads of economy-shaping institutions and job-creating commercial corridors” and “key access point that allows residents of the region to efficiently commute to Philadelphia’s central business district.” UCD hopes to see the station’s potential through. From DP:

UCD wants the space to better reflect the dynamic neighborhood that the station introduces. Traveling from Center City into West Philadelphia, SEPTA trolley riders currently emerge from a dark tunnel to face a bleak acre of underused space. But after the renovations, this unattractive first impression will become a “vibrant and social space, featuring trees, movable tables and chairs, native horticulture, artful lighting and boulders for creative play,” Brennan said.

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Morning Headlines: Montco Has Built More Apartments Than Single-Family Dwellings In Last Year

It seems Wynnewood and Conshohocken aren’t the only areas in Montgomery County aiming to reel in those looking for smaller housing. According to recent data by the Norristown Planning commission, Montgomery County housing units went up by 42 percent last year compared to 2012– the largest chunk of that increase being multifamily housing.

Philly.com’s Jessica Sparks reports the amount of single-family homes grew by 19 percent, while single-family attached homes (i.e. duplexes or row houses) rose by 12 percent. The biggest increase was seen in apartment and condo constructions, which tripled in 2013.

Sparks says the Planning Commission’s report, which displayed constructions mainly occurring in Towamencin, Upper Providence, and Montgomery Township among others, found the housing units “added $252 million in taxable property value to the county.”

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Morning Headlines: Redevelopment Plans for the Royal Theater

Royal-Theater-mural

It took about a year, but developer Carl Dranoff and JDavis Architects unveiled plans for the vacant Royal Theater at a South of South Neighborhood Association meeting last week. PlanPhilly has the details this morning.

Kenny Gamble’s Universal Companies purchased the historic building in 2000 but it has been mightily neglected since then. Dranoff partnered with Universal last year when the group announced plans for a mixed-use building to replace the theater. Details on the proposed building were fuzzy until last week’s meeting. Thanks to PlanPhilly, we now know the proposal includes the following provisions.

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Morning Headlines: City Council Proposes Bills on Housing Affordability and Rezoning

Photo | Jeff Fusco

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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Morning Headlines: Free Library To Get $25 Million Grant For Branch Renovations

Photo credit: Kansas Sebastian via Flickr.

Photo credit: Kansas Sebastian via Flickr.

In news that is sure to quell left over fears from rumored library closings a fews years ago, the William Penn Foundation has promised to grant FLP $25 million over the course of three years. The donation will fund the redesign of outdated storage stacks at Central Library on Vine Street, a proposed community center addition to Lovett Memorial Library in Mount Airy, and renovations for branches on Broad Street and West Lehigh, Wagner, and Torresdale Avenues.

According to the Inquirer’s Peter Dobrin, Free Library president and director Siobahn Reardon sees the renovations as the “architectural manifestation of a recent shift in mission that concentrates on job-seekers, pre-K children, entrepreneurs and small-business owners, new Americans, people with disabilities, and consumers of medical and health-care information.”  This “shift” came after Reardon attended community forums and realized different neighborhoods needed access to different programs and information, NewsWorks’ Peter Crimmins reports.

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