The Roots mural via muralarts.org
How long have we been waiting for the Roots mural? It seems like forever ago that we started pining for Philly’s biggest hometown hip-hop stars to be enshrined on some wall, somewhere. Well, it’s finally happening, and the wall is at 512 S. Broad Street, on the side of the World Communications Charter School. Seems like a more fitting idea than Sixth and South, which was pitched some time ago.
Photo by Julia Rowe via Flickr
Despite the Pennsylvania Convention Center website touting “the superb quality of the design aesthetic, detailed down to custom-designed carpets with 15 different geometric patterns,” the expanded state-owned Convention Center that opened in March 2011 isn’t exactly the Taj Mahal. But the intention wasn’t to create a thing of great beauty; rather, it was to bring in significantly increased convention business, that would, in turn, grow hotel business and retail and restaurant as well. As a preview to the opening, the Philadelphia Inquirer asked a number of salient questions, some of them necessarily contradictory: Would all the taxpayer millions on the expansion be worth it in the end? Would there be enough hotels to fill the demand of increased conventioneers?
As Tom Ferrick points out in today’s column for AxisPhilly, worries about the latter question have turned out to be largely moot. He minces no words: “The newly expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center is turning out to be a dud. With a capital D-U-D.”
Image via Brewerytown Spring Festival's Facebook page
On Hidden City today, Bradley Maule writes in great depth about West Girard Avenue, in particular, the blocks between 2500 and 3100. The neighborhood was vibrant even into the 1980s, but in the ’90s the area was hit hard–like so many American urban neighborhoods–by the drug trade. Yet in the last 10 years, Maule writes, there’s been a remarkable turnaround–one that sounds surprisingly uninflected by classic new arrival-vs.-old-timer tensions that are seen all too commonly in neighborhoods like Point Breeze.
One of the reasons for relative peace seems to be the delicacy of area developers, like MM Partners’ Jacob Roller, who told Maule, “We’ve been very sensitive to the idea of gentrification. We’re not coming in to change the neighborhood. We want to add to its core, and forming relationships is key.”
Photo by Ben Weldon for Philadelphia Magazine
Developer Matthew Pestronk, one-half of the Post Bros.–the company converting an old factory at 12th and Wood into the Goldtex Apartments–says he and his brother Mike did everything L&I told them to do before they held their VIP preview party last night at the building (for more on the party’s promotion, go here). It wasn’t a unique situation: Real estate developers often have previews of properties that aren’t entirely finished–hence the word “preview.” “There’s a body of compliance to get a temporary event permit,” said Matt today. “We spoke to L&I earlier in the week, and they assured us we got the permit. We did exactly what we were told to do.”
But when an L&I inspector came to the site at 4 p.m. yesterday, he told Matt, “L&I will not allow me to issue the permit.” The official reason Matt was given for the denial was the lack of a working fire protection system, but he said they’d addressed that. If a building does not yet have a sprinkler system, the people holding the event must have appropriate personnel on site to deal with fire emergencies. Matt says they did–”we take safety very seriously.”
Of course you already know about the Free Library’s virtual installation at Suburban Station (we are somewhere toward the bottom on the hold list for the Tenth of December). But have you seen the library’s new subway ads lately?
The Free Library is already on top of its Facebook and Twitter game, sharing interesting trivia and answering readers’ questions. Now they are featuring local librarians and other staff in a series of snarky subway station ads.
Poor Stephen Starr. Successful, wealthy, well-regarded–but inevitably misspelled, particularly in real estate listings. Take the most recent sales and marketing of 234 Market Street, once Starr’s inventive restaurant Tangerine. It’s now up on Craigslist (via LoopNet) as “Former Steven Star Restaurant”–which lessens the glow of association somewhat. That listing is especially impressive because it’s a double mistake, while other ads simply do one or the other name incorrectly. (Click on images below to see sample errors.)
Apparently, Starr’s name is exceedingly bedeviling, so it seems important to acknowledge achievement. Hence the inaugural Stephen Starr Real Estate Spelling Awards, which recognize agents, brokers or their lackeys who drop Starr’s name in real estate listings but spell it correctly. And the winners are…
One of University Realty's existing properties at 3337 Spring Garden Street. Photo courtesy University Realty.
A few years ago, Todd Potter says he realized there was a big void in the Philadelphia real estate market. Students looking to live off-campus had two options, he said. There was university-sponsored housing or local landlords renting out the same old properties. Four years later, his University Realty is expanding further into Powelton Village at about a 100% occupancy rate.
RealtyTrac has released a first-quarter housing analysis of HUD data and it shows a firm emphasis on the number 27. Single-family-home building permits are up 27 percent from one year ago, while foreclosure starts are down 27 percent from one year ago. Nice, right? As is evident from the following graphs and charts, the Philadelphia area is decidedly unspectacular in terms of results. More →
Tonight is the VIP preview party for the opening of the Post Bros.’ Goldtex apartment building, and the invitations are as…stirring as the listings copy Post generates to advertise their rentals. It’s a curious space these fellows occupy: They’re pathbreaking developers who may have changed the way the unions operate for good, earning significant civic credibility; yet they’re also avid employers of deeply unserious frat-boy humor and Bikini Bandits-style marketing.
This VIP party, for example. Yeah, so there are hot women on the invite—big deal. As Matthew Pestronk said when we asked him about all the brothers’ somewhat salacious approach, sex sells. But the subject line for the email invite to the party was a bit bawdier than usual: “Come Polish Our Pearl,” it said. For those who don’t know what that means in sexual slanguage, let us enlighten you because idiomatic expressions of the carnal variety is what this blog is really about. After the jump, the definition and the full image of the invite, which is kind of NSFW.
After opening for a short preview during Philly Tech Week in April, 3rd Ward has finally announced its class schedule. We’re still waiting with bated breath for the promised millinery class, but the courses already on the calendar look pretty intriguing.