When we first learned last September that Sansom Street’s Roxy Theater was closing, it was sad — though not entirely unexpected — news. Center City’s only active movie theater had become dirty, run-down and generally decrepit, screening the worst that the big studios had to offer.
But then the city let out a resounding cheer when it learned in October that the Philadelphia Film Society (the organization behind the annual Philadelphia Film Festival) was taking over the Roxy and turning it into a respectable cinema for truly independent and repertory film. When I spoke with PFS executive director J. Andrew Greenblatt back in October, he suggested that screenings could begin prior to the new year, meaning Jan. 1, 2013.
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NBC 10 reports:
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said reports that Monday’s house explosion in South Philly may have been caused when a handyman lit a cigarette, were “pure speculation at this point.”
“There is a lot of speculation about what was happening in the house Monday morning. I’m not able to address rumors and speculation,” Nutter said in an afternoon news conference.
Of course, that speculation was fed by a seemingly official source, Councilman Mark Squilla, who visited the explosion site on Tuesday and suggested the cigarette connection. “He supposedly went in the building, tried to do it, couldn’t get it to work, went out, came back in. Sometime during that process he lit a cigarette and when that happened the house exploded,” Squilla said of a contractor on the house, which was undergoing rehab.
Eight people were injured in explosion.
Read a full report from the Mayor’s news conference on Property.
It has been nearly two months since the deadly building collapse at 22nd and Market streets. Victims and families of the deceased have been lining up in Philadelphia’s civil court to sue the demolition contractor, the equipment operator (who was later arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter) and building owner Richard Basciano. Read more »
Philadelphia can be, ahem, behind the times at times, but today’s Inky report that “house flipping has come to Philadelphia” seems especially absurd. After all, the nation is just barely recovering from a deep recession caused by the popping of the housing bubble, so why not enjoy a little bit of the same behavior that nearly ruined the economy in the first place?
Hip, desirable neighborhoods such as Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and Passyunk Square have become targets for flipping.
“[The] sweet spot seems to be in the $250,000 to $400,000 range,” said broker Chris Somers of Re/Max Access in Northern Liberties. He had a settlement Thursday for a client who flipped a house in Passyunk Square, and “we got it sold in one day,” he said.
But, you know, at least flippers are driving up housing prices artificially so that people who simply want to buy a home have a harder time of it. That’s awesome, right?
Our fellow PhillyMag blog Property relates the latest Ori Feibush sighting:
Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush stirred some controversy this month when his lawyer, Wally Zimilong, sent a letter to a woman, Haley Dervinis, opposed to his latest project: four single-family homes around 20th and Annin. The letter cautioned her not to libel or slander Feibush with disparaging comments in an upcoming zoning hearing, and was, to our eyes, a fairly ridiculous cease-and-desist scare tactic. It worked–she was scared. The letter got press as a threat, and Feibush came off as a bully trying to censor her.
At the hearing, Dervinis was certainly not alone in her opposition, and now, according to Jan Ransom of the Daily News, the Zoning Board has denied Feibush’s petition to go beyond the current zoning, which is for three homes rather than four.
Feibush could file an appeal with Common Pleas Court, but he’s content to back down and listen to the neighbors’ concerns. “I don’t want to fight people. If we can appease neighbors’ concerns, it’s a win for everyone,” he told Ransom.
Good for you, Ori. Shovelfuls of sugar make the medicine…well, you know the rest.
NBC 10 reports:
At a Philadelphia Housing Authority auction last week, a squatter placed the winning bid on the home she’d been living in for the past eight years.
Jess Meyers, 28, had raised enough with online crowdfunding to make the down payment of $2,500. Now she’s going online again to raise the rest.
Meyers says she gets by as a handywoman. But without enough saved up to the buy the building she calls home, she’s asking online donors to chip in.
“At the $100-level you get a one-night stay there,” she says, with a laugh. “At the $1,000-level you get a weeklong stay and a T-shirt and a patch.”
The house is located near 52nd and Funston.
Man, oh man. A lot of people really hate developer Ori Feibush, don’t they? It seems that not a week goes by without some story coming out that portrays the 29-year-old gentrifier as a wealthy evildoer. Based on the way that some people talk about him, you can almost imagine him as the villainous pre-conversion Gru in Despicable Me, like he’s going to invent some death ray to disintegrate all of the old people in South Philly whose homes he wants. Wealthy he is. But an evildoer? I don’t think so.
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Ori Feibush builds building. Point Breeze resident gets upset. Ori Feibush launches counterattack. If you’ve followed Ori’s career at all, none of this should be surprising. But this latest episode has brought the legal guns out, and has become a little more intense than usual. Or as Liz Spikol puts it over at Property: Spicy.
Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush is at odds with fellow resident Haley Dervinis over Feibush’s plan to build four homes on 20th Street, where Dervinis’ home is. He says she’s made defamatory comments about him on public forums. [E.g. "Shady, "Crass," "Cut throat."] She says she’s just exercising free speech.
So his lawyer’s threatening to sue her if she makes just one more during a public hearing taking place this very moment. For more on exactly what’s going there, follow the Daily News‘s Jan Ransom who’s live-tweeting the ZBA meeting where the fate of the project will be decided.
Final point of irony: One of the biggest complaints Point Breezers make about Ori is that he’s a Center City carpetbagger trying to push them out of their neighborhoods. The project many are opposing today? (Including powerful neighborhood association South Philly H.O.M.E.S., which used to support it?) That’s where Ori’s trying to build a home for himself. [Property]
“We love 13th Street!” proclaim chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran on their website.
It clearly shows: The pair, partners in business and in life, have branched out from a lone home goods boutique at 107 South 13th Street in 2002 to six thriving businesses at the epicenter of Midtown Village, including the nucleus of the 13th Street restaurant row. These businesses, according to the site, “helped transform the once-desolate neighborhood into trendy Midtown Village.”
Yes, Midtown Village’s main drag is truly “A Philadelphia Street, Transformed,” as a New York Times travel section slideshow proclaimed this past Sunday. And judging from that slideshow, Turney and Safran pretty much pulled it off by themselves, with just the merest assist from Stephen Starr, a cigar aficionado and a high-tech beer garden.
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Gentrification has been getting a bum rap in Philadelphia.
You read that right.
The assumption among elected officials — well, certain ones, at least — and many activists is that when more affluent people move into a neighborhood, the poorer residents get hurt or pushed out.
It’s that assumption that underlay Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr.’s shelved-for-now effort to limit the value of improvements eligible for the city’s 10-year property tax abatement. (No final vote was taken on the bill last week before Council adjourned for the year; instead, it was amended and held for later.)
I have a friend I’d like him to meet.
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