New La Colombe Planned for Independence Mall

dow-building-940The former Rohm and Haas building at the corner of 6th and Market Streets will be the home of a new La Colombe coffee cafe in 2015. La Colombe is leasing 1,700 square feet of ground-floor space at on Independence Mall. This will not be a mega La Colombe like the 11,000 square foot cafe recently opened in Fishtown.

The building has seen a rebirth of its public spaces since the joint venture of Keystone Property Group, Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Parkway Corporation took over the building. Over the summer, the building’s plaza and breezeways were the home of the successful Independence Beer Garden.

La Colombe has been focusing on expansion since raising $28.5 million in backing this summer. No exact word on an opening date.

La Colombe [Official]

Anti-Abortion Group to Broadcast Videos of Abortions on Independence Mall

Images of bloody, dead fetuses will be projected on a 10 foot by 12 foot screen at Independence Mall on Friday, as part of an anti-abortion protest. The group received a permit for all day, but the images are scheduled to run on a constant loop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Created Equal, an Ohio-based anti-abortion group that compares its stance to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement on its website, is holding the rally. “It seems fitting to me that we are launching this campaign in the very place where our nation’s founders penned those words, created equal,” Mark Harrington, Created Equal’s national director, told the Inquirer. “We are still battling for equal rights. In this case, it is the pre-born who are being discriminated against.”

The group also said it would project videos of “abortions in progress” on the screen.

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Opera on the Mall

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Saturday night, more than 5,000 people filled Independence Park to watch Opera Philadelphia‘s free broadcast of Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

Concertgoers began arriving as early as 4 p.m. to get prime, front-row blanket seats near Chestnut Street where the screen was located. Midway back was the chair section. The entire block was full by the time a screening of the Warner Bros.’ cartoon “Rabbit of Seville” starring Bugs Bunny started at 7 p.m.

Bugs was followed by the The Barber of Seville, which had been recorded live the previous evening. Many of the actors were in the audience, as they had the day off. I learned that opera singers need to rest their voices after a performance, so shows are scheduled every other day.

David Devan, General Director of Opera Philadelphia, told me that this was the fourth annual Opera on the Mall, and it was great opportunity for people to experience an opera if they’d never been to one previously. The Barber of Seville, is playing at the Academy of Music this weekend and there are still tickets available.

Photos from Opera on the Mall »

Four Years In, Philadelphia’s President’s House Still Dealing with Leaks

The Inquirer’s Stephan Salisbury reports today of the problems with the President’s House site on Independence Mall. The site at the southeast corner of 6th and Market was built to commemorate the original residence of the President of the United States — as well as the slaves Washington held there. The excavation at the site was an unexpectedly popular attraction.

And, apparently, it’s a mess! Most of the mess has to deal with leaks — in glass panels, in paving tiles, in a hatch door that the city repaired and still leaks. The city admits it did not construct an underground drain “but argued that it might not solve the problems anyway.” The project, which was developed jointly between the city and the National Park Service, was supposed to be turned over for maintenance to the park service after construction; that hasn’t happened.

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How Dow You Do, Stephen Starr?

Photo: Sandy Smith

Photo: Sandy Smith

This summer we wrote, “Paging Stephen Starr: Great Restaurant Space Up for Grabs on Independence Mall.” We were talking about the Dow Chemical Building, listed on the National Register, which had just come on the market. At the time, the listings agent, Robert Fahey of CBRE, was highlighting the 10,000 square feet already equipped for food service.

Keystone Property Group, Mack-Cali Realty Corp. and Parkway Corp. purchased the building in October, and have announced their plans for it — and those plans do, indeed, include a ground-floor restaurant.

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Hanging Out with Disappointed Tourists on Independence Mall

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The great thing about government shutdowns it that they bring people together. If you go to Independence Mall today—or any day for the foreseeable future—you’ll notice large groups of people standing around on the grass, talking to one another. How nice. These are people who came for the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, or the Independence Hall Visitor Center–all of which are closed. In fact, if you want to play a sadistic parlor game, go linger by the entrances of any one of these places, wait for unsuspecting tourists to pull fruitlessly at the doors, and then–preferably leaning against a wall, with a toothpick in your mouth–say, ‘Closed, pal.’

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