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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Another Dilworth Park Amenity Opens Friday

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In addition to Rothman Ice Rink opening next month, Dilworth Park will be debuting another feature: the Albert M. Greenfield Lawn.

According to a press release from the Center City District, the 6,9000-square foot green space will be dedicated and opened tomorrow at 11:00am. The site is expected to function as a relaxing public area for visitors to go read and work, with occasional programmed events setting up camp there throughout the year.

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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: Saffron Says Not Enough Affordable Subsidized Housing

Photo credit: 205 Race website.

Photo credit: 205 Race website.

As home values start to pick up and Philadelphia enjoys its first significant growth spurt in a long time, a different story unfolds for those on the lower end of the income spectrum.

In her latest “Changing Skyline” column, critic Inga Saffron writes that while the city’s gentrifying neighborhoods push up prices, inclusionary housing tends to fall by the wayside, even when developers promise to include subsidized units in their buildings.

Inclusionary housing, which is basically an “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours ” deal, involves developers pricing some of their apartments for below-market rates in favor of receiving zoning bonuses. Some do it, most don’t. As Saffron points out, the number of market-rate residences outweighs affordable housing in the area:

You could probably fit every unit of affordable housing being built in Philadelphia today inside one of the fancy glass skyscrapers going up in University City, and still have a couple of floors left over. That’s not because the new towers are so immense, but because the city produces so little subsidized housing for the poor and working class.

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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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Dilworth Park’s Rothman Ice Rink Opens November 14th!

Renderings are beginning to meet reality.

Renderings are beginning to meet reality.

Didn’t we tell you it would open before Thanksgiving?

The Center City District announced today that the Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park will be open to the public between November 14 and February 21. In keeping with the winter amenity’s spirit, the CCD had staffers go to today’s press conference wearing winter coats. (Side note: It’s 74 degrees out right now.)

According to the District’s website, the rink will be operated by Rink Management Services Corporation, a Virginia rink company that operates 33 ice rinks in 17 states and Washington D.C. The CCD and RMSC will add to Dilworth Park’s roster of events by planning further programming at the rink.

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The Dilworth Park Ice Rink Will Open Before Thanksgiving

Renderings are beginning to meet reality.

Renderings are beginning to meet reality.

Official details won’t be available until tomorrow, but here’s what we do know: the ice rink at Dilworth Park will make its big debut before Turkey Day!

The rink, which would temporarily replace the 11,600-square-foot fountain for the rest of the season, will be managed by a yet to be named operator selected by the Center City district from a competitive pool of applicants. Park amenities like outdoor seating, WiFi,  and Jose Garces’ Rosa Blanca cafe will continue to be available through the winter season, but the new feature will include ice skating lessons.

More details to come.

Morning Headlines: Museum of the American Revolution Breaks Ground

It’s expected to open sometime in late 2016, but construction of the Museum of the American Revolution will soon be underway. In fact, the Inquirer’s Stephan Salisbury reports that a symbolic groundbreaking took place yesterday for the $119 million building designed Robert A.M. Stern.

You may recall the museum was previously under a lot of scrutiny when renderings first came out, leaving a number of people unimpressed. “Could [it] be constructed in a way to make its Georgian details feel plausibly like real architecture?” asked Inga Saffron in 2012. Even after its redesign, the building’s appearance was still deemed uninspired.

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Architype: Lush Life

500 walnut street

Rendering of Cecil Baker design for 500 Walnut Street.

Developer Tom Scannapieco has spent his career surrounded by skeptics — or his career since 1974, at least, when the self-described “urban pioneer” bought property near Spring Garden and created the Wallace Court Condominiums.

He faced doubters again with Waterview, New Hope’s first ultra-luxury residence. “The papers could not believe you could sell million-dollar homes in New Hope,” says Scannapieco. But the houses were gone before the ink on the brochure was dry.

He confronted perhaps his hardiest naysayers with 1706 Rittenhouse, which held its groundbreaking the same week in 2008 that Lehman Brothers went under. Between the building’s record price point and its so-called “B location” (near Rittenhouse Square, but not directly on it), the brokerage and development communities were skeptical. “They’re not in the business of being visionaries,” Scannapieco says. “They only know what they’ve seen work.” Fortunately, 1706 worked. Even during the downturn, it never had to reduce its pricing, and it’s now completely sold out.

Perhaps that’s why there’s so much support for Scannapieco’s latest project, 500 Walnut: a 26-story tower, designed by architect Cecil Baker, that will face Independence Hall. Based on 1706’s success, the brokerage community believes in this venture.

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Archdiocese Plans to Sell 200-Acre Property For $47 Million

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's mother church, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Photo credit: Peter Miller via Flicker.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s mother church, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
Photo credit: Peter Miller via Flicker.

Offers came in after the Archdiocese of Philadelphia put the 200-acre Don Guanella Village on the market last year, but now it seems the site, which includes a center for developmentally disabled men, will pass on to Cardinal Crossing Realty Associates for $47 million.

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