Big Shot in Arm Proposed for North Philly

A view of the proposed North Station District development's first phase. | Rendering: Spagnolo Group Architecture

A view of the proposed North Station District development’s first phase. | Rendering: Spagnolo Group Architecture

A group of New York real estate investors has been working quietly behind the scenes to assemble land for a project that would be truly transformative for North Philadelphia.

As of last Saturday, their project has come out of the shadows.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported March 18th that an investment syndicate led by HFZ Capital Group plans to build two new mixed-use buildings and renovate a third on land it has acquired around North Philadelphia Amtrak station. Read more »

Driver of Amtrak Train That Derailed Sues Amtrak

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

The driver of the Amtrak train that derailed in Port Richmond in 2015 has sued his former employer.

Brandon Bostian was the engineer of Amtrak 188. Eight people were killed and more than 200 were injured — including 11 critical injuries — in the crash. His lawsuit against Amtrak, filed Wednesday in Common Pleas Court, accused the railroad company of failing to provide a safe working environment.

The NTSB report on the crash laid the blame on Bostian, saying he was distracted by radio traffic about a rock that hit another train the same night and did not slow down enough as he entered a curve. Read more »

Joe Biden to Visit Amtrak’s Wilmington Station Today

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden.

Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the Wilmington, Delaware train station that bears his name today at 3 p.m. to announce new funding for Amtrak. Biden is expected to reveal a $2.5 billion deal to improve efficiency and infrastructure through a partnership between Amtrak and an unidentified firm specializing in high-speed trains, according to NBC 10. Read more »

Our Odds on the 30th Street Station Area Development Plan

30th Street Station development plan, aerial view

The 30th Street Station area master plan laid out a fantastic vision of a second downtown for Philadelphia in University City. Only money stands in the way of realizing it, with the public sector as the weakest link. | Rendering by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

$6.5 billion.

The figure was tossed out rather casually in the course of yesterday’s formal unveiling of the two-years-in-the-making master development plan for the area surrounding 30th Street Station in University City, but it represents the largest single bet yet placed on the future of Philadelphia.

The parties involved — Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT, SEPTA, and a slew of elected officials and community groups — have put their chips down on a project that has many moving parts and will play out over the course of decades.

As we’ve seen plans almost as ambitious as this one go up in smoke (anyone here remember River City?), it’s only logical that we should ask what its chances for completion are. Herewith are my own odds for the plan’s key components and the overall chances that the plan will be fully realized sometime in our or our children’s lifetimes. Read more »

30th Street Station Development Plans Announced

 

A renedering of what the area around 30th Street Station would look like when all the projects envisioned in the development plan are completed. | Renderings by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

This morning, Amtrak, SEPTA and Drexel University officials unveiled plans for a massive transformation of the area around 30th Street Station.

The massive, multi-decade 30th Street Station District Plan would, when completed, turn the area around 30th Street Station into a second downtown for Philadelphia focused on the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system. That station, transformed into a multimodal transportation hub for the region, would serve as the linchpin of the planned development.

New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created under the plan, with most of the development privately financed. A total of $2 billion in public investment would leverage an additional $4.5 billion in private investment. These figures are on top of the $3.5 billion Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust have already pledged to see the Schuylkill Yards development, which Drexel President John Fry described as “a down payment” on the plan at this morning’s public unveiling, to completion. Read more »

A Year After the Amtrak Crash, Casey Calls for More Money for Train Safety

Bob Casey - Chris Jagodzinski - Jeff Knueppel

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey speaks at 30th Street Station Friday morning, flanked by Amtrak’s Chris Jagodzinski (right) and SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel. | Photo by Dan McQuade

Flanked by officials from Amtrak and SEPTA, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey today called for more money for safety measures on train lines across the country. Earlier, he had been briefed on progress implementing positive train control, a measure that most likely would have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188 a year ago.

“We need to invest more in safety,” Casey said under the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial angel statue. “So that Amtrak and any other rail system has the resources they need … the technology allows a measure of safety that we didn’t have a few years ago.” Read more »

Amtrak’s Second Sunday Accident Injures One

Left: Google Maps. Right: Shreder 9100 at en.wikipedia

Left: Google Maps. Right: Shreder 9100 at en.wikipedia

One person reportedly lost a leg Sunday night after being struck by an Amtrak train in Bensalem.

It was Amtrak’s second serious accident of the day in the Philadelphia area, following a Sunday morning derailment in Chester that killed two people. And both accidents took place nearly a year after last May’s deadly Philadelphia derailment.

“I feel safe riding a train, but things like this keep happening with Amtrak with the crashes and what’s going on here,” Ken Duncan, Bensalem, told 6ABC. “Makes me wanna take the bus.” Read more »

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