Remember last year, when union protesters raised such a din that Mayor Nutter was forced to retreat from City Council chambers to give his budget message? That ugly spectacle won’t be repeated again, the Inquirer reports.
Just because Mayor Nutter has made the deal doesn’t mean the City Council will ratify his $1.86 billion sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to a Connecticut company.
After months of discussion, an accord has finally been reached for how to refurbish of JFK Plaza. According to the Inquirer’s Troy Graham, Mayor Nutter and City Council President Darrell Clarke signed a document “that outlines their ‘shared vision’” for the park. Compromise from both parties is evident in the new plan, which includes information about what would be retained, what would be added, and how it would all be funded.
To avoid dipping into the city’s reserves, the renovation project would funded by the sale of the garage beneath the plaza, and Liberty Property Trust would offer free planning and design services.
NewsWorks reports that Mayor Michael Nutter and Council President Darrell Clarke have reached agreement over the future of Love Park—a joint vision that involves creating new green space while offering urban amenities like restaurants. ”I want to say how excited I am about the prospects of having a well-balanced approach to redoing this park and bring some level of vibrancy to this park,” Clarke said. “No longer will people be talking about Bryant Park in New York and in London, they are going to be talking about Love Park in the city of Philadelphia.”
Another lumbering step forward has been taken in the effort to raise budget money for the School District of Philadelphia. Since last year’s December 17th deadline, the District has received 20 offers for the 28 school buildings for sale, seven of which were “expedited sales” and open to individual bids.
Putting the abandoned buildings on the market and using the money to fill its budget gap has it proponents, but another deadline looms. As the Inquirer’s Troy Graham puts it:
To cover what the city pledged toward the district’s budget deficit, sales worth at least $61 million have to be completed by June 30. If not, the city would have to dip into its funds to make up the difference.
After two years of crafting a land bank bill that would streamline the messy, maddening process of buying land from the city, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez’s legislative magnum opus finally passed a first-reading last week, but far less triumphantly than many would have liked. In the 11th hour, Sanchez capitulated to an amendment by Council President Darrell Clarke that would effectively retain the stifling councilmanic control over the sale of land. (The bill has since been passed.)
City Council President Darrell Clarke is floating a plan to take care of rehabilitating LOVE Park the same way the city is going about rehabilitating the parking garage under it: By having private business foot the bill for the repairs.
Mayor Nutter has already announced that the garage would be sold to Chicago-based InterPark, which bid $30 million for it. InterPark would then renovate the garage on its own dime and restore the park – formally, John F. Kennedy Plaza still – with $16.5 million from the city.
CBS 3 reports: “Mayor Michael Nutter says he’s still somewhat in the dark over Council President Darrell Clarke’s plan to send $50-million to the school district in exchange for the right to sell some vacant district buildings. Nutter wants to know who’s interested in buying them.” Clarke has said 11 developers are interested in buying the buildings.
“I would say that it would help further the process — for both us and the school district — if there are legitimate expressions of interest, or these letters of interest, whoever they are and whatever they might say, is helpful, would be helpful in the process,” said Mayor Nutter. “So we’ll see. At some point in time, they may forward them to us.” Read more »
The city — and in particular City Council President Darrell Clarke — is hoping that by selling the empty school buildings, they’ll make $50 million that can be reinvested into schools that still have children in them. But`that may be overly optimistic, the Daily News’ Solomon Leach reports. “A Pew Charitable Trusts report released in February shows that school districts across the country have struggled to dispose of empty buildings. The co-author of that report, Emily Dowdall, senior associate for Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative, told Leach: “No city has come into a windfall from selling buildings. It’s hard to predict just how much money they can fetch and in what time frame.”
The Pew report cites several challenges that Philadelphia faces as compared to 11 other cities — some the same, some different. The neighborhoods often don’t have strong real estate value; the prices for the buildings, which are extraordinarily large, are well beneath the imagined value; and in the case of Philadelphia, the buildings are just too old.
Those who believe this is going to work: Curtis Jones Jr., Jannie Blackwell, Clarke. Those who differently: Mayor Nutter; Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development; the Pew.
What’s with the smirk on Philadelphia Councilman Bill Green’s face? He’s reacting to City Council President Darrell Clarke saying “we shot our load” on schools funding. Green was actually the last to react to Clarke’s poor choice of words, with Kenyatta Johnson and Bobby Henon weighing in with their facial expressions immediately.
Go ahead and watch. It’s at the 35-second mark of the video. Wisely, Clarke chose a much less lewd cliché later in his comments when he said, “All of our apples have been pretty much put in that cart.”