Waterfront View of the Camden Waterfront – copyright Volley for Robert A.M. Stern Architects
You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.
The famous line from The Social Network seems apropos today, as the City of Camden has officially announced an ambitious plan to completely transform 16-acres of prime waterfront land between the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Adventure Aquarium.
Liberty Property Trust, the mega-developers behind the Navy Yard and Center City’s Comcast towers, will spearhead the $1 billion proposed development, the largest ever private sector investment in the city’s history.
If realized, the project will (largely) swap what seems like miles of surface parking lots for a live/work/play mix of glitzy office towers and low-rises, a residential component, lively restaurants and retail and even a hotel.
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George Norcross | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP
1. George Norcross lands the first post-win meeting with Jim Kenney.
The gist: The Next Mayor has a juicy little scoop: George Norcross, the political kingmaker of South Jersey, was the first person to meet privately with Jim Kenney after he won the Democratic mayoral primary last week. Lauren Hitt, Kenney’s campaign spokesman, deemphasized their discussion. “Jim met with a lot of people [that] night and he invited them all back into the staff room because it was the only way to have a real conversation with anyone, given the crowd outside,” she said. Read more »
Jimmy Kempski, Philly.com’s popular Eagles blogger, is joining the staff of PhillyVoice.com, George Norcross’s forthcoming startup online news source.
Kempski is not the only new hire poached from Interstate General Media, where Norcross was a part-owner before losing an auction for the company earlier this year. Jonathan Tevis, who previously served as IGM’s spokesman — representing the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com to the press and public — is joining PhillyVoice.com as director of external relations.
Both moves were announced Monday afternoon in a press release.
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Less than six months since he was outbid for the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, it looks like South Jersey powerhouse George Norcross is ready to jump back into the oh-so-lucrative game of local journalism, joining BillyPenn.com and the maybe-one-day-it-will-happen, Ajay Raju-backed Philadelphia Citizen in the field of Philadelphia news startups. Read more »
Attorney Richard Sprague, left, advised Lewis Katz, center, and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest on their bid to control the Inquirer and Daily News.
Now that the Inky ownership battle has been resolved in favor of Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, the guys we used to refer to as the “minority ownership faction” of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — we’ll just refer to them as the “owners” from now on — we’ve got a few burning questions about the future of the newspapers
•Does anybody know what to do next? Sure doesn’t look like it. As soon as Messrs. Katz and Lenfest presented themselves to the media, reporters questioned them about the future of the papers: Who will be publisher? How to address declining circulation? Will there still be three websites? How to address declining revenue? What’s the plan?
The plan, reporters were told repeatedly, hasn’t been developed yet.
“We have to figure out the future,” Lenfest said. “We’re not there yet.”
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Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz arrive for a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Katz and Lenfest are taking over Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. AP Photo | Matt Rourke
Joel Mathis is on the scene of the auction of the Inquirer and Daily News, where it’s just been announced that the group led by Lewis Katz and H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest has emerged victorious with a winning bid of $88 million. We’ll be updating this post throughout the day.
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Make of this what you will: The media will be shut out of next week’s auction of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.
The “closed” auction will take place between two current factions of ownership — the majority faction led by George Norcross and the minority faction led by Lewis Katz. It was Katz that asked for the auction to be shut off from the prying eyes of, well, his own employees. On Tuesday, the Delaware judge overseeing the auction agreed.
However: The judge also ordered the the identity of the prevailing party and the identity of the prevailing bid should be made public. Since Norcross will open bidding at $77 million, we’ll at least have enough information to know if the Katz group made a bid.
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George Norcross (left) and Lewis Katz in court late last year. AP Photos | Matt Rourke
Ralph Cipriano at BigTrial.Net brings us all the details of the auction that will determine the future of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. It’s scheduled for 9:30 a.m., May 27th, at the law offices of Dechert LLP in Philadelphia. George Norcross, who represents the majority faction of owners that triggered the crisis last fall by firing Inky Editor Bill Marimow, will open the bidding at $77 million.
After that, the group led by Lewis Katz will have exactly 10 minutes to make a bid exactly $1 million higher. As Cipriano observes: “It could all be over in 10 minutes if Katz and (Gerry) Lenfest don’t bid $78 million.”
There’s just one dispute left to resolve, and it contains no small amount of irony given the stakes: The two sides can’t agree if the media will be allowed to cover the auction directly, or if reporters will have to sit outside and wait for the results. Katz’s group wants the process closed; Norcoss wants it open. The issue may be decided at the last moment, before the auction gets under way.
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Inquirer ownership partners George Norcross (left) and Lewis Katz in court late last year. AP Photos | Matt Rourke
And there you have it. In a ruling issued on Friday, Vice Chancellor Donald F. Parsons of the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware has decreed that the warring partners in Interstate General Media — the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com — will have a private auction among themselves to determine who will own the operation going forward. And that it must happen right quick:
… I will order the dissolution of IGM. In addition, I will order IGM to be sold in a private, “English-style” open ascending auction between General American and Intertrust. The minimum bid for the auction shall be set at $77 million in cash. I hereby direct General American and Intertrust promptly to confer and submit a proposed form of order implementing these rulings consistent with the other terms of the proposed private auction that were discussed at the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing and during the final argument on April 24, 2014. I further order that in no event shall the auction for IGM be held later than May 28, 2014; that is, no more than thirty calendar days from, and inclusive of, Tuesday, April 29, 2014.
So, imagine the kind of auction you see on TV: a fast-talking auctioneer and bidders who raise paddles or wink or make little shooting gestures with their hands when they hear a number they like. Now imagine that there are just two guys doing the bidding: George Norcross and Lewis Katz.
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Jim Romenesko, who blogs about journalism at his eponymous Romenesko website, says Inquirer co-owner George Norcross tried to get architecture critic Inga Saffron reassigned from her long-running — and, as of Monday, Pulitzer Prize-winning — column on architecture criticism.
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