Morning Headlines: University City Leads the City In New Office Construction

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It’s official: University City is in a construction boom and we have the numbers to prove it thanks to the University City District’s annual State of University City report.

According to their findings, not only has their been a huge surge in the neighborhood’s population, but there are thirty-two new development projects that were “advanced or completed” during this cycle alone, totaling to “6.9 million sq. ft. of new office, research, residential, academic and medical facilities in addition to nearly 2.2 acres of public space.”

Naked Philly’s Lou Mancinelli points out that the biggest increase in new University City construction has been in private investment, which has earned the neighborhood first place when it comes to office construction in the Philadelphia: “82% of all office construction in the region taking place in UC.”

Related to that, the report also found that office occupancy was highest in UC than any other submarket in Philadelphia (the report says there are twenty-seven), boasting 96% occupancy.

All in all, the last five years has brought University City 9.99 million square feet of real estate projects. Check out the full report here to get a full visual of UC’s growth, as well as the housing graph below.

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Conshohocken Apartment Complex to Break Ground Early Next Year

An office building along the train line in Conshohocken.  Photo credit:  Montgomery County Planning Commission via Flickr.

An office building along the train line in Conshohocken.
Photo credit: Montgomery County Planning Commission via Flickr.

According to Natalie Kostelni at the Philadelphia Business Journal, Mack-Cali Realty Corp. is aiming for an early 2015 groundbreaking for its newly acquired parcel in Conshohocken.

Kostelni says Mack-Cali bought the riverfront property from O’Neill Property Group and already has the 3-plus-acre site at 51 Washington St. approved for 310 apartments. Here’s more from PBJ:  Read more »

Loft Apartments Planned For Shuttered West Philly High School Might Include Small School

Photo via Google Street View

Photo via Google Street View

The former West Philadelphia High School will, if the purchase goes on without a hitch, live its second life as a mixed-use loft apartments building, a plan developer Strong Place Partners has had in the works for a few years now. Tomorrow, however, the School District will hear a proposal to include a charter school in a designated section of the building.

West Philly Local‘s Mike Lyons reports that Strong Place has agreed to lease “as much as 90,000 square feet” to the Philadelphia Music and Dance Charter School if the District approves the school’s application and if the community supports it.

Some locals had previously expressed their dislike for the planned lofts, which they believed would not address community needs and potentially spark up gentrification issues, according to NewsWorks.

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Property’s Weekend Agenda: Elfreth’s Alley Home Tours and Antique Shopping At the Franklin Flea

Photo credit: Robyn Lee via Flickr.

Photo credit: Robyn Lee via Flickr.

Sure, you’ve seen our galleries of Elfreth’s Alley homes that are on the market. This Saturday, though, you can get an up close and personal look thanks to Deck the Alley, an event which lets visitors go inside the historic homes while enjoying refreshments, caroling, storytelling and the pleasant company of Ben Franklin (yes, Ben Franklin.)

Now, if browsing antiques in a long-shuttered building sounds like more your scene, we’ve got you covered there too. The Franklin Flea will also be this Saturday at the old Strawbridge & Clothing building on 8th and Market. It will, per Uwishunu, have everything from “fine antiques and vintage clothing to handmade decorative arts and gourmet street food” on sale.

Details below.

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Philadelphia Among Top 20 Cities with Deep Local Roots

Of course Philly is on this list.

Planetizen recently linked to a Governing magazine article, which used census data to see which American cities have the most in-state residents (i.e. those who have never moved or have simply lived around the area for most of their lives).

Governing’s Matt Maciag writes it’s places like that which have “more civically active” people and “distinct communities,” but are also more likely to have fallen on hard economic times.

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Morning Headlines: Did This Philly School Pay a Contractor Who Never Worked There?

Photo via Google Street View

Photo via Google Street View

According to the Daily News’ Regina Medina, charter school operator ASPIRA Inc. hired Lyon Contracting to paint Olney Charter High School back in 2001. School workers claim no one from Lyon ever came, which is why they were recently surprised when they found out ASPIRA had paid the contractor $163,365.

Here’s what some school employees said upon hearing this:

Almost “everything in that place got done by us. Every single thing,” said one Olney staffer. “I never see anyone rolling no brush but us. It was always me and the crew.”

Added another employee who worked at Olney in 2011: “I have never seen a paint company here.”

Among the areas painted were the school cafeteria, gym, hallways, and staircases.

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Kenyatta Johnson Hits Pause on Rezoning Bill That Would Replace Little Pete’s with Hotel

Hudson Hotel and Little Pete's

Last month, the Planning Commission voted to recommend a bill that would rezone the site of Little Pete’s (and the parking garage above it) to make way for the 12-story Hudson Hotel (renderings here). That bill was just put on hold.

According to Jared Brey over at PlanPhilly, City Council’s Committee on Rules assembled to hear the bill on Tuesday, but in the middle of the hearing, Committee chairman Bill Greenlee broke the news that “the bill was being held back at the request of its sponsor,” Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

Johnson was recently under public scrutiny when it was discovered that Stephen Pouppirt, the Hudson Hotel developer, had made generous contributions to the councilman’s campaign committee.

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Morning Headlines: Millennials Drove East Market and the Gallery Renovation

east market rendering detail

Detail from one of the East Market renderings. Courtesy National Real Estate Development.

As per a report by the Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corp., the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Natalie Kostelni writes that the retail scene in Center City has been gaining momentum thanks to youthful newcomers: “Millennials, young families, office workers and tourists visiting the city.”

Ever since these groups have made their way into Philadelphia, retailers have followed. Sayeth Kostelni:

The demand and buying power of this combined group has translated into attracting a diverse mix of retailers – 250 apparel stores, 133 food and drink establishments, and 444 full-service restaurants. It has also grabbed the attention from national chains including Forever 21, Nordstrom Rack, Uniglo, Michael Kors, Timberland among others that have opened up stores this year in Center City. Even though these national players have gotten a foothold in the city, 77 percent of retailers downtown continue to be boutiques, independents and regional firms, the report said.

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Morning Headlines: Bicycle Racing Arena Proposed for South Philly

velodrome-proposal-01_-_APPROACH_COMP-940x540

According to Inga Saffron, the proposed $100 million velodrome, which would sit on four of FDR Park’s 300-plus acres, has earned the blessing of both bicycle racing enthusiasts and high-profile members and groups in the city (Mayor Nutter, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and Friends of FDR Park to name a few). This velodrome, they believe, could very well “become a top U.S. venue for international races.” (See renderings of it below!)

But even more importantly, it could help revive the area around it: Read more »

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