Headlines: Fishtown Neighbors Give the Thumbs Down to Apartments Projects

Image by Pennsporter via Instagram

Image by Pennsporter via Instagram

The plans for the 12-story apartment building near Penn Treaty Park met the Fishtown Neighbors Association last night, and let’s just say it didn’t go too well. Jared Brey of PlanPhilly reports FNA voted to oppose two of apartment complexes proposed by Core Realty–1100 North Delaware Avenue (picture above) and 1212 North Delaware Avenue.

1100 North Delaware Avenue is the former Edward Corner Building and plans called to scrap the former maritime shop in favor of a 12-story apartment complex with ground floor retail. It would also include two-bedroom townhomes on the Allen Street side of the building with a pedestrian pass through to Delaware Avenue. Here’s the crux of the situation from Brey:

In order to get the two buildings approved, Samschick will need a number of fairly minor variances for lot coverage, open area, the number of loading docks, floor area ratio, and setbacks on the roof deck at 1100 N. Delaware. That building is the bigger of the two; it would house 180 apartment units, office space and a rooftop pool.

Residents said the request for variances does not mesh with the Central Delaware zoning overlay, a plan that took years to develop and set the guidelines for development in the area. Brey reports that nearly two-thirds of those in attendance raised their hands in opposition to both projects.

Fishtown group rejects two development proposals on Delaware Ave. [PlanPhilly]

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Gorgeous New City Hall Gates to Come With a Politically Interesting Twist

The new City Hall gates. | Renderings and designs from Vitetta.

The new City Hall gates. | Renderings and designs from Vitetta.

Given City Hall’s grandeur, one of the more annoying features of the building has been the sad-sack gates at the four portals to the interior courtyard. They’re made of chain link, like you’d see on the perimeter of a prison, only without the razor wire.

Well, those gates are in for a pretty breathtaking upgrade in the not-too-distant future. Working off a conceptual design proposed by John McArthur Jr., the original architect of City Hall, the architecture firm Vitetta has come up with a painstakingly detailed, historically reverent set of schematics for the new gates, which could be completed by the end of the year, according to Bridget Collins Greenwald, the city’s Public Property Commissioner.

This is interesting news for an obvious reason: the gorgeous new gates are one more step of what’s become a very, very long project to burnish the tarnished jewel that is City Hall. But it’s interesting for another reason as well: Vitetta happens to have mayoral candidate and former City Councilman Jim Kenney on retainer as a consultant, at the rate of $75,000 a year. Read more »

Report: One-Quarter of Philadelphians Unhappy With Comcast

Mayor Nutter speaks about the franchise agreement with Comcast during a noonhour press conference on Thursday.

Mayor Nutter speaks about the franchise agreement with Comcast during a midday press conference on Thursday.

Twenty-six percent of Philadelphia Comcast subscribers are unhappy with the company’s service, according to a new report (below) released as City Hall begins the public phase of renewing the company’s 15-year franchise agreement with the city.

That overall satisfaction rate was lower than in other markets studied in recent years, according to the report, and while Mayor Michael Nutter tried to spin it positively — as a 74 percent approval rate, great for politicians — he concluded: “That is not satisfactory to me or city government.”

A Comcast spokesman called the report “flawed,” but declined to elaborate. Read more »

Arts Groups Protesting Mayor Nutter Budget Cuts at City Hall Today

Photo from Groundswell.

Photo from Groundswell.

Today at noon, Groundswell, a program of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, will gather supporters at City Hall for the annual Philadelphia Arts Advocacy Day. This year they’re directing their attention to Mayor Nutter’s proposed 40-percent budget cut for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund (PCF) for fiscal year 2016.

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SEPTA Unveils Renderings of 15th Street Station Renovations

There’s good news, bad news and “bad news with a but” about the long-planned, long-delayed reconstruction of City Hall Station on the Broad Street Line and 15th Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line.

The first, but perhaps unavoidable, bit of bad news: The hordes that will descend upon Philadelphia for the World Conference of Families starring Pope Francis this fall and the Democratic National Convention next summer will experience the same dingy, cramped platforms and passages we have had to endure for more than 85 years. Read more »

Brady to Dems: Reconsider Manny Morales Endorsement

Maria Quinones-Sanchez | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Maria Quinones-Sanchez | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

On Tuesday, we asked: “Why Have City Dems Endorsed a Council Candidate Whose Facebook Page Compared Gay Men to Flatworms?” Turns out Congressman Bob Brady, the city’s top Democrat, wants to know the same thing.

As we reported, ward leaders in the Seventh Council District instead endorsed Manny Morales, who few had ever heard of before, over incumbent Maria Quinones-Sanchez. Morales, it turns out, is pro-voter ID, anti-abortion, thinks George Zimmerman handled things just fine, is an immigration hawk, is pro Ron Paul and, yes, wondered aloud on Facebook if gay men, like flatworms, “use their bifurcated penises to fence one another.”

Morales has denied making the Facebook posts, and has said he is contemplating legal action aginst Quinones-Sanchez for posting the purported Facebook posts on a site called MeetMannyMorales.com..

Brady says ward leaders should reconsider the endorsement. “I am sure that the ward leaders, when they did the endorsement, they did not know that this existed,” he told KYW. “And we still don’t know whether its accurate. But if it is accurate, it’s very troublesome. Anybody can make an allegation. But if they’re true, I would make a recommendation to the ward leaders that they withdraw their support from him as a candidate.” Read more »

Philly Says It Will Fill a Reported Pothole in Three Days

Philadelphia pothole filler

Photo | Dan McQuade

It’s headed to the 50s on Friday, and it’s going to be in the 40s and 50s next week, too. Let’s cross our fingers and hope it’s really the end of winter.

But the end of winter means the start of another season, and not spring: It’s pothole season in Philadelphia. As of yesterday, the city had already filled more than 12,000 potholes on its streets this year. The Streets Department’s pothole filling crews will be busy this year. That’s not because this pothole season is going to be particularly worse than others — it’s still too early to tell — but because there hasn’t been as much time to fill potholes this winter.

“Last year there were breaks between the storms,” said Steve Lorenz, Chief Highway Engineer for the Streets Department. “This year, we never had a chance to get the crews out there to do any pothole repairs. It was one [weather] event after the other. When we didn’t have an event, it was just so cold out there was not much we could do.” Lorenz said many pothole repairs this winter were done with cold patch — a temporary solution. As of Monday, the Streets Department had filled 9,000 potholes. Last year at this time, 20,000 had been filled. It’s not that the roads were worse after last winter; the weather just hasn’t cooperated in 2015. Read more »

Nutter Weighs School District’s $103 Million Request

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Staring down a deadline to deliver his own 2016 budget request to City Council, Mayor Nutter is weighing a request from the Philadelphia School District for $103 million in new funds, KYW reports.

Because of that request, Nutter says his budget proposal remains unsettled: “What we’re trying to figure out right now is how to properly and in a sustainable fashion respond to the $103 million request. What would it be, what form would it come in, and do we in fact include that in the budget that gets submitted.”

Nutter is resolute that the requests need to be settled quickly: “The Governor’s budget address is on Tuesday, the 3rd. My budget address is on Thursday, the 5th. So all of this to some extent will be happening in real-time. We’re at a point where we need to address the budgetary request from the School District as early on as possible (and) identify those resources. We will collectively try to figure out how to do that. But there’s no question that the need is great.”

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Wanna Buy a Mayor?


Photo illustration | Alyse Moyer. Photo credits | John Dougherty: Katharine Gilbert; Anthony Williams: Kimberly Paynter/WHYY/NewsWorks.org; Ken Trijilio: © 2014 Greg Wasserstrom for Friends of Ken Trujillo; Jim Kenney: © 2011 Will Connelly; Money, piggy bank and dollar sign: istock by getty images

In a nondescript office building four blocks northeast of the White House, a group of elite political consultants is making decisions that may well determine who gets Michael Nutter’s job in 2016. Stay positive, or go for the knees? Flood the airwaves, or lean on direct mail and robocalls? How best to soften up the enemy’s base? How to introduce voters to our guy?

The rub is that these operatives don’t work for any of the mayoral candidates — not directly, anyway.

Who pays their bills? We have a pretty good idea, but we won’t really know until the election is all but over, if then. How much money will they have to spend? The assumption is a lot — perhaps millions — but again, no disclosure is required until 11 days before the May 19th primary election. What do the funders want, exactly? We can guess, and we can ask them to explain, but they aren’t candidates. They don’t have to take questions from the press, or debate their foes, or defend their views. Read more »

Inside Take: City Hall Has Long Coddled Big Business

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)

In this town, business and government get along like Jimmy Fallon and The Roots.

This Festival of Requited Love has been ritualized by Mayor Michael Nutter’s annual addresses to the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, with the final kiss being blown at their Sheraton Philadelphia luncheon today. Read more »

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