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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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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New Listing: Center City Residence with Attached Rental Unit

921 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

921 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

The inside of this early 20th century Center City home (it was built in 1915) looks like nothing from the era and that’s because the interior has been totally revamped.

A peek in the kitchen reveals a modern room with stainless steel appliances, custom cabinetry and backsplash terrazzo countertops. Meanwhile, the office boasts an electric fireplace and private deck for when you need to clear your head. Wood floors are throughout.

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Fire Extinguished at Wanamaker Building

[Update 12:04 a.m.] NBC 10 reports the fire was extinguished quickly, with no injuries:

The fire occurred in a ninth floor office and was under control a short while later, according to fire dispatchers.

There were no reports of injuries but with people out on the sidewalk and fire equipment on the scene, traffic around City Hall came to a halt for nearly an hour. By 10:45 a.m., traffic began moving again.

[Original 11:06 a.m.] We don’t know much yet, but:

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Center City Applebee’s Is a Hot Commercial Property

Photo via LoopNet

Photo via LoopNet

The most popular office space on the commercial listings site LoopNet is technically 1417 Locust Street, an address attached to the beautiful old building that housed Bookbinder’s for years and now has “Bourbon Street Chicken & Shrimp” as a new menu item at Applebee’s. I tell you, when Bookbinder’s closed and Applebee’s opened, I almost lost my mind. I spent half my youth with clarified butter dribbling down my chin onto a paper bib at that joint, eating lunch with my Dad back in the days when journalism paid well and expense accounts paid better. Nine years old, eating lobster tail, browsing the dozens of photos of luminaries who’d visited the restaurant…I didn’t know how good I had it. Now a night out at Applebee’s — $20 for that new entree — is actually a bit steep.


The month of October saw 658 people checking the listing out for the 20,000-square-foot property, which has frontage on Locust and 15th and commands much of that little alleyway. Speaking of the past, that alleyway used to be home to The Office, the notorious strip club where well-heeled men went to ogle down-at-heels women. A colleague threw me a 30th birthday party there. It was odd but not as odd as you’d think.


The building’s listing reads thusly:

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