Interview: Paul Levy Gets Big Things Done

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No list of Philly’s most powerful people would be complete without Paul Levy. He has headed the Center City District since its inception in 1991, overseeing a transformation of the neighborhood from a dirty and dimly lit downtown, vacated after dark, to a vibrant center (natch) of commerce and living.

In April’s Power Issue of Philly Mag (pick it up on newsstands!) we say of Levy: “The president of the Center City District remains the undisputed king of city planning, with the Dilworth Plaza project, the Reading Viaduct, and his long-shot crusade to change the tax structure. Nobody will have a bigger influence on Center City this year. Again.”

Philly Mag spoke with Levy about Center City’s renaissance, what it takes to get big projects done in this town, and what the future holds for his organization.

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Unique Penthouse Condo With Kitchen Made of Giant Chiclets

Photo: Realtor.com

Photo: Realtor.com


A unique penthouse with skyline views at the Packard Grande has an unusual mix of styles. On the one hand, there’s the incredibly ornate, historically preserved woodwork on the walls, windows and above the fireplace, which is also ornate and historically preserved. On the other hand, there’s the modern kitchen — and matching sofa — both made of giant Chiclets. (Well, okay. Not literally. But you can certainly see the resemblance. If Chiclets were square at the edges. Which they’re not. So…modified Chiclets. Maybe teeth? Moving right along…) The ceilings soar above walls and windows from another era, while slate floors invoke both olde-tyme Philadelphia sidewalks and elegant estate terraces.

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Boyd Theater’s Fate May (Finally! Really!) Be Decided Today

Today’s the day we’ll found out whether that last-second donor really will be able to preserve Center City’s Boyd Theater in something like it’s original form, or if redevelopment plans that would reuse the facade — and completely rebuild behind it — will proceed. Developer Neil Rodin and his client, iPic Pictures, are going before the Historical Commission  today to make the case for the latter scenario.

The case hinges on whether the developers can prove that preserving the property would create a financial hardship for current owners.

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Would Philly Drivers Stand for a 20 MPH Speed Limit in the City?

Jon Geeting, who we last saw writing about ‘sneckdowns’ on East Passyunk Avenue, recently posted the harrowing map above: All of the city’s pedestrian-related crashes from 2008 to 2012. During this five-year span, there were 9,051 in Philadelphia — and that’s just ones that are reported. (Once, at 16th and JFK, I saw a woman get hit by a car, bounce off the hood and continue down the street. I caught up to her to see if she was okay and tell her she was a badass.)

On his site, Geeting also posts a map of the pedestrian deaths over that five year span; there were 158 city wide with 16 in Center City — even though downtown had the most crashes. This speaks to my badass pedestrian example: She could keep walking because cars can’t travel as fast in Center City. But get hit on Roosevelt Boulevard and you’re less likely to survive.

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Center City Townhouse Loaded With Luxury Finishes Plus Parking

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Let’s get momentarily real here. Subzero and Miele appliances are a dime a dozen in Fitler Square and its posh neighbor Rittenhouse. The jaw-dropping detail here is not the cozy fireplace nor the stunning window wall overlooking the private garden. It’s the heavenly blue parking garage just out back.

The home has hardwood floors throughout the first floor and boasts three bedrooms in addition to a den which is currently being used as an office. There is also a finished basement. The kitchen is luxury sleek and the window wall behind it provides views into the quiet backyard.

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Gallery: The Magnificent Gymnasium Ruins Beneath the Metropolitan

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When Stephen Solms purchased an old YMCA just north of 15th and Arch in the 1980s, there was enough money for Historic Landmarks for Living to convert the old single-occupancy rooms into 120 apartments. That meant shuttering the gymnasium that occupied the second and third floors of the 26-story building and using it for storage. Solms’ successor, Jeff Reinhold, and his residential company own the Metropolitan today. And they’ve decided it’s time to restore the historic gym to its former glory — but this time with modern cardio equipment.

The Metropolitan currently hosts a standard high-rise apartment fitness room. After the restoration, the equipment will be moving to a much bigger room just off the main gymnasium. The gym will be open to residents from all of Reinhold’s apartment buildings, two of which — the Lofts at Logan View and the Packard — are mere blocks away.

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For Sale: Rittenhouse’s Infamous Thaw House at 17th and Spruce

Walk by today and you’ll find a law firm at 1710 Spruce Street. A touch ironic, given one of its former residents was Harry K. Thaw, whose murder of architect Stanford White in 1906 led to the “Trial of the Century.”

Photo credit: Wikipedia user B

Photo credit: Wikimedia.

Thaw shot White — a New York architect, who designed some of that city’s most famous buildings — at a rooftop dinner theater at Madison Square Garden.

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