Council Committee Approves Digital Ads

A rendering of a digital display on South Broad Street

A rendering of a digital display on South Broad Street

Center City is one step closer to looking like Times Square.

A City Council Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that will allow “urban experiential displays” — 3D digital billboards — to be built at a few select locations in Philadelphia’s downtown district.

KYW reports that the bill was supported by Thadeus Bartkowski, founder of Catalyst Outdoors, which wants to build three of the digital displays — 30 to 50 feet in height — at three locations in Center City.

Bartkowski says, “It’s about creating a multi-faceted communication platform, that’s able to add vibrancy in unique commercial corridors.”

Bartkowski proposes three locations — outside the Convention Center, across from the Reading Terminal Market, and on the facade of the Bellevue Hotel garage on South Broad Street.

He says 70-percent of the content displayed would be ads, the rest would be PSAs and other material — including promotions for local non-profits: “What’s trying to be created here is a pedestrian-viewer experience, not just a simple single form of technology.”

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SEPTA’s Got Big Plans for Underground Concourse

South Broad Concourse, Under Construction

South Broad concourse, under construction. Photo | Dan McQuade


Three and a half miles of concourses run under the streets of Center City Philadelphia. One can walk from 8th and Market all the way to the Comcast Center. One can then go from there to 12th and Locust. Walking underground can actually save time in many instances: There are no distractions, as swaths of the concourse are devoid of anyone but people rushing through, maintenance workers, loiterers and the occasional skateboarder and/or pot smoker.

SEPTA wants to change that eventually. Now that it has control of maintenance and capital improvement of the underground concourses, SEPTA has begun improvements and repairs. The two escalators at 15th Street — across from City Hall — will be replaced. SEPTA is also replacing the escalator at the 8th Street Station and renovating the elevator there. Read more »

Six Pack: Ramen In Philadelphia


This weekend’s frigid winter weather has us all longing to hibernate until warmer days. But don’t let the cold stop you from going out. Just use it as an excuse to indulge in some heartwarming comfort food that will bring feeling back into your fingertips.

Back in December, we did a round-up of the best soups in Center City and now we’re coming back with the best ramen in town–for those of you who want all the comforts of Japanese food thrown into one large, steaming bowl.

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Morning Headlines: American Bible Society to Move Its HQ to Center City

Screenshot via Google Street View

Screenshot via Google Street View

Well, it looks like Pope Francis will receive an extra warm welcome when he makes his way to Philadelphia this September: The Inquirer’s Claudia Vargas reports the American Bible Society has decided to move their base to Center City this summer.

According to Vargas, the long-New York-quartered organization will lease “nearly 100,000 square feet on the eight and ninth floors” of 401 Market, the office building at Fifth and Market with the prominent “Wells Fargo” logo on its western roof line. (Wells Fargo occupies the majority of the building.) The lease, she writes, is for 25 years.

Plans for ABS has in mind for their new HQ building include a proposed “Bible Discovery Center” on the first level, conference center, rare Scriptures storeroom, and a concourse-level library, Vargas adds.

So, what prompted the change in HQ?

3-D Billboards in Center City? Company Presents their Vision to the Planning Commission

Screenshot of Outdoor Catalyst's Philadelphia UEDs  video.

Screenshot of Outdoor Catalyst’s Philadelphia UEDs video.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but if things go according to one advertising company’s plans, Center City could get closer to taking on a “digital district” look not unlike a mini-Times Square (We have digital displays on the Lit. Brothers building now, after all).

PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports Catalyst Outdoor had an informational presentation before the Planning Commission on Tuesday regarding their proposal to build “three-dimensional digital billboards in a few corners of Center City.” In addition to featuring regular ads, these “Urban Experiential Displays” would “promote local nonprofit organizations, share news and ‘infotainment,’ and carry police and municipal alerts.” (You can see a video of their vision here.)

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UPDATE: Woman Falls From Building, Hits Pedestrian

woman fell building hit pedestrian

[Update] Fox 29 reports that the falling woman was killed in the incident, but the pedestrian survived and is hospitalized with her injuries.

Authorities say a 20-year-old female Temple student was killed after falling from a building and landing on a pedestrian. Investigators believe the girl was sitting on the ledge, possibly leaning out of the 8th floor window taking a picture when she fell.

Police say the Temple student was visiting two male friends who live in the Art Institute of Philadelphia dorms when she fell from the 8th story of the building and landed on a 44-year-old female pedestrian. The 20-year-old female was transported to Jefferson Hospital where she was pronounced dead after suffering severe head injuries. Police say the female pedestrian was transported to Hahnemann Hospital where she’s listed in stable condition. She suffered a fractured neck vertebrae and lost several teeth.

Police are still investigating the circumstances of the fall.

NBC 10 adds:

Shoppers and pedestrians watched in horror as an 18-year-old Temple University student, identified by sources as Rebecca Kim, slipped and fell off the window ledge of an apartment building and landed on top of another woman, 44, who happened to be walking below at the time.

Temple University released this statement following Kim’s death:

“Temple University is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students in Center City Philadelphia. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”

[Original] On Thursday evening during rush hour, a young woman fell from an apartment building near the corner of 16th and Chestnut streets, landing on a female pedestrian outside the H&M, according to police. The circumstances of the fall are unclear.

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Paul Levy Wants a Truce Between Center City and Neighborhoods

Dilworth Park Fountain

Center City has been treated to a lot of perks, including Dilworth Park.

Mayoral elections in Philadelphia have a tendency to become battles between neighborhood interests and Center City ones, and there are plenty of indicators that 2015 will not be much different. Mayoral candidates State Senator Anthony Williams and attorney Kenneth Trujillo, made the theme of a divided Philly–with Center City on one side, struggling rowhome communities on the other–central elements of their campaign announcements.

It’s a potent political message, as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign showed in New York last year. And while the tale of two cities narrative is built partly on resentment, it’s also grounded in an unhappy reality: despite Center City’s growth, poverty and stagnation still rule in many Philadelphia neighborhoods.

So, how to talk about Center City’s needs and priorities in a campaign where, thus far at least, neighborhood concerns appear paramount? Paul Levy, executive director of the Center City District, took a stab at it in an interesting letter last month that sought to create “a distinction between residential Center City and business Center City.” Read more »

Morning Headlines: Center City Saw $1 Billion in Retail and Office Space Deals Last Year

This past year appears to have been a kind one for commercial real estate investors in Center City. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Natalie Kostelni, 2014 saw $1 billion in commercial real estate traded, not including Comcast’s $505 million stake in the Comcast Center. This is up from $700 million in 2013 and $96 million in 2012.

Kostelni reports two factors came into play for this to happen: property owners who “decided to seize on the interest in commercial real estate” and domestic institutions that “have turned their investment attention to cities such as Philadelphia” because they’re “unable to compete with the onslaught of international capital flooding primary gateway cities, such as New York and Washington D.C.”

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One Liberty Place to Get Observation Deck

Philadelphians and visitors wanting a bird’s-eye view of the city will get their chance: Mayor Nutter on Tuesday announced plans for an observation deck at One Liberty Place. Uwishunu reports:

Today, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced that Montparnasse 56 Group is bringing a brand new observation deck experience to Philadelphia in Summer 2015.

Montparnasse 56 (or M56) — a Parisian-based company that operates observation decks in the John Hancock Tower in Chicago and the Montparnasse 56 Tower in Paris — will be building the observation deck on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in downtown Philadelphia.

There are currently only a few spots around the city that offer sky-high views of Philadelphia, including the City Hall Tower Observation Deck, R2L and Nineteen.

More details, including the deck’s official name, remain to be revealed.

Update: Philly Parking Kiosks Taking Cards Again

UPDATE: The PPA announced credit cards are working in parking kiosks again. “We want to apologize for any inconvenience caused by the failure of our kiosks to accept credit card payments,” PPA Executive Director Vince Fenerty said in a statement. “We worked throughout the weekend to successfully correct this technical problem and things are now back to normal.”

EARLIER: People constantly complain about the PPA’s parking kiosks in Center City, but things have been even worse the past few days. On Saturday night, the PPA announced kiosk spots would be free on Sunday due to problems with processing credit card payments. Old-style standalone meters were still enforced.

Today, the PPA is enforcing parking regulations at kiosks in Center City, but no credit card payments will be accepted.

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