“Lotgate” Czar Ed Covington Reportedly Out at City Hall

Ed Covington, who’s headed the city’s Redevelopment Authority (RDA) since 2010, is reportedly out at City Hall. It’s unclear if he stepped down, was fired, or what. You may recall Covington as the man who sparred against Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush during last fall’s “lotgate” hubbub. (Feibush cleaned up a city-owned lot, Covington threatened to sue.) For his role in the affair, Covington was targeted by both benign do-gooder petitions and savvy hacktivists. [Daily News]

Philly’s Cheesecake Factory Monstrosity Officially On Its Way

Center City, you’re one step closer to achieving the sterility plaguing most other metropolitan downtowns. This week, the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a developer’s plans to demolish the wraparound 2-story retail space on Walnut and 15th and replace it with a glass box featuring a Cheesecake Factory. And if we’re lucky, a Uniqlo. It’ll join an Applebee’s and Max Brenner (Bald Man) Chocolates on S. 15th’s 200 block. Making this little stretch of street “KOP on 15th” as City Paper’s Dan Denvir quipped in a tweet. You can get your damn cheesecake in fall 2014, probably. [Philadelphia Real Estate Blog]

Photos: The Forum Porn Theater Now Demolished

The Forum–the last place to catch a good porn in Center City–is now little more than a crumbling brick shell. Though the demolition is not quite complete, the roof and iconic marquee are now gone. The wrecking ball, for the record, appears to have struck sometime today. A guy sitting at the Liberty Bar next door confirmed this detail, though he was pretty drunk and called me a “douchebag” at one point, so take what he said with a grain of salt. Lucidly, however, he added that the internet was to blame for the theater’s demise and that the “neighborhood’s value just went up 20 percent.”

DECEMBER

NOW



Here’s a shot of the west side of the building.

And here’s an old desk turned on its side that I found on the south end of the building, which may or may not belong to the Forum.

Inside the desk was a supremely creepy little Voodoo doll. Phrases written on it include: Ecstasy, Lose Virginity, Prison, Win in Vegas, and Gain Weight. Make of it what you will.

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Note to Gentrifiers, Rich People, and Pretty Much Everyone: Your Taxes Are Going Up Under AVI

According to City Controller Alan Butkovitz, 343,191 properties will experience tax increases under the city’s proposed Actual Value Initiative (AVI) overhaul, compared to 107,603 which will owe less. Here are the five ZIP codes he estimates will experience the highest average annual tax hikes, assuming (optimistically) a 1.25% tax rate. Listed are the annual amounts average properties in each ZIP would owe.

19102: $1,634 (39.8% increase)

19148: $819 (78.4% increase)

19146: $768 (44.6% increase)

19130: $815 (27.3% increase)

19103: $946 (17.5% increase)

I expect not a few of you loyal readers live in these ZIPs, which comprise Rittenhouse, Fitler, Grad Hospital, parts of South Philly and Fairmount, among other neighborhoods. More surprisingly several neighborhoods that would experience big tax hikes aren’t quite so tony as these ones. The highest tax increase–191%–would occur in 19133, a North Philly area not quite known for its rapid gentrification. [Daily News]

University City Skyscraper to House Penn, Drexel Students

A 33-story, $159 million tower is slated to open in University City in fall of 2014. The dorm (yeah, I guess that’s what it is) will house Penn and Drexel students, and is part of the area’s Cira Centre South mixed-used development. The effort is a collaboration between Campus Crest Communities, Harrison Street Real Estate Captital, and Brandywine Real Estate Trust, which is spearheading the Cira Centre project. [Wall Street Journal]

Destined for Demolition, the Best Western’s Bar Keeps Serving Drinks

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Brian Coyle fucking hates the Eagles.

It’s a Friday night in January and the ruddy-faced Navy vet is sitting at the B & W Sports Bar at the Best Western Center City, trying to explain to me why. About a decade ago, there was a reception at the Linc to thank the union guys who had built the place. A cousin of his did legal work for the Eagles, and landed him an invite. Read more »

Can Manufacturing Make a Comeback in Philadelphia?

Just last week, Mayor Nutter created a 25-person task force for the purpose of finding ways to bring manufacturers (back) to the Philadelphia region. I’m sure that the idea came from his recent trip to Tianjin, China, where he enviously observed the impact that government investment can have on a major industrial city. “Seeing what goes on here is a reminder of the things we can do and must do to maintain our presence on the world stage,” Nutter said. It also underscores “what our federal government can do if we would have, at times, a little less debate and a whole lot more work and understand that investment brings job and activity and furthers American interests.” Read more »

PHOTOS: Toys for Tots Party in Chestnut Hill

Last Sunday, I attended a party to benefit Toys for Tots hosted by Vittoria and Ken Schultz at their gorgeous Chestnut Hill home High Hollow. High Hollow was designed by George Howe, who also did the iconic PSFS building. The Schultzes are in the middle of a major renovation of the 13,000-square-foot estate once occupied by Sam and Goldie Paley—while also working on their Center City boutique hotel “The Dwight D,” located in the old Giovanni & Pileggi building at 256 South 16th Street.
 
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