Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Bridesburg Waterfront Park Gets Grant To Move Forward

Plans for a 10-acre waterfront park in the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia are moving forward after PennDOT awarded a $1.4 million grant to the city last month.

Construction of Phase 1 is expected to begin in 2021―with a public opening set in 2022―at the site in the historic neighborhood along the Delaware River. Phase 1 includes a large lawn area, restrooms, parking and walking trails.

Phase 2 will be the construction of stage and picnic pavilions, terraced lawn seating, and a river boardwalk. The park will connect to an existing 2.2-mile trail and create an 11-mile stretch of parks and trails along the Delaware River. It will be part of the Circuit Trails and East Coast Greenway networks that run 750 miles and 3,300 miles, respectively.

Additional funding for the $9-million waterfront project, being built on the site of a former concrete plant, is being procured by Riverfront North Partnership and the city of Philadelphia.

In a second, related project, a new two-lane road with a dedicated bike path will be built to ease traffic in Bridesburg and offer more recreational opportunities for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Industry Braces for Impact of Tax Abatement Changes in Philadelphia

Philadelphia had a record-setting year for new construction in 2019, according to the number of permits issued by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections. The majority of the more than 2,100 permits issued were for single-family housing and most was in Center City’s surrounding neighborhoods. But developers fear a change in the 10-year tax abatement, which was passed at the end of last year, will slow the market and development.

Philadelphia has had a 10-year tax abatement of real estate taxes for new residential construction since the 1970s. It allowed developers to be tax-free for 10 years and was enacted to boost construction in the city. After a contentious debate, however, the legislation passed an amendment to the abatement. Now, the first year will provide developers with a 100 percent exemption on taxes, but there will be a 10 percent decrease per year after that. After 10 years, the tax exemption would end.

In a compromise to those opposed to the change, the new abatement won’t be implemented until December 31, 2020. There is some speculation this could produce a mini-boom of residential housing before the abatement ends in his current form, or boost new commercial real estate projects, according to Joseph Gibson, a researcher at commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE.

One prominent building already under construction—the Arthaus condominiums from Dranoff Properties—will not escape the new tax law. The 108-unit, 47 story building at 309 South Broad Street is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

PATCO’s Franklin Square Station Project Secures Government Funding, On Track To Begin Construction Next Summer

The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) has secured funding to help with the renovation and reopening  of Philadelphia’s the Franklin Square Station.

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded DRPA more than $12.5 million for renovation and reopening of the PATCO Franklin Square Station. The money is a Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, which is used to invest in projects that will “have a significant local or regional impact.”

The DRPA will finance the rest of the cost of the proposed $30-million project to reopen the station, which has been shuttered for 40 years.

The architecture and engineering design phase is nearly complete, according to officials, and construction on the station–that has been closed since 1979–is expected to begin in late 2020. DRPA has set an opening date of Summer 2023, according to the PATCO press release announcing the funding.

The renovation and construction will improve the station’s civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical systems and  provide access in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the release that also said for riders to reach the concourse area, a new head house building will be constructed where the previous head house was located at the corner of 7th and Race Street.

The glass roof on the “head house” would not only allow for natural light but also a green roof of vegetation to help manage stormwater runoff and provide insulation.

When it reopens, Franklin Square will be the first stop on the Pennsylvania side of the Ben Franklin Bridge for the rail line that connects South Jersey to Philadelphia.

Philly Area Airport Improvement Projects Get Boost with Federal Funding

Three Philadelphia area airports received federal grant money as part of the sixth allotment of the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), announced at the end of September. They were part of $157 million in airport infrastructure grants awarded to 34 airports in 19 states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands. In total, the AIP will award $3.18 billion for infrastructure projects at airports.

For Philadelphia, the announcement means $102,717 to Northeast Philadelphia in Philadelphia for Phase III of the reconstruction of Runway 6-24; $13.41 million to Philadelphia International in Philadelphia for Phase I of the reconstruction of Taxiway K; and  $99,000 to Delaware Valley Regional to conduct a Metropolitan System Plan Study.

At Northeast Philadelphia Airport, runway reconstruction includes  full depth asphalt removal and replacement with an aggregate base course and asphalt surface course, installation of new and maintenance of existing underdrain structures, installation of new airfield lighting fixtures, pavement grooving, and pavement markings. There will also be improvements and a new geometry for the taxiway (L) that connects to the runway.

At Philly International, the taxiway reconstruction includes full depth asphalt removal and replacement with an aggregate base course and Portland cement concrete (PCC) surface course, new geometry to meet current FAA criteria, installation of new and maintenance of existing underdrain structures, electrical work and more. A new taxiway connector will also be added.

Three other grants were awarded to airports in Pennsylvania: $7.89 million to Arnold Palmer Regional in Latrobe to widen Runway 6-24; $2.6 million to Pittsburgh International for the purchase of snow removal equipment; and $3.88 million to Allegheny County in West Mifflin for the reconstruction of an aircraft-parking apron.

The full list of AIP grants awarded can be found here. The projects being funded include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, construction of firefighting facilities, and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons, and terminals.

A Wealth of Development Opportunities Arise if Philadelphia’s Hahnemann Hospital Closes

Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia has filed for bankruptcy and faces possible closure. If the medical campus closes, there are obvious concerns about serving the community’s health needs, as well as the loss of jobs of those who work there. But according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the seven medical buildings and parking garage that take up over nearly six acres on Broad Street along the Vine Street Expressway could become one of the “most enticing-if challenging” development sites the city has seen in years.

The age and condition of the buildings make it difficult to modernize to continue its use as a hospital. But the site sits between Center City and Broad Street making it a “gateway” location for redevelopment should that inevitably happen. At this point, there is no consensus of what kind of development it would be or if it would encompass the entire site or pieces of it.

Should redevelopment happen, it won’t be the first hospital site in the city to be redeveloped and re-imagined. The former Mt. Sinai Hospital at 400 Reed Street was turned into nearly 100 luxury townhomes with “pocket parks” and pedestrian walkways configured into the buildings’ layout. Southwark on Reed became the fastest selling townhome project in Philadelphia to date. And St. Joseph’s Hospital’s transformation into a mixed-use site with 88 apartments, The Civic Apartments, is nearing completion.

But Hahnemann’s future at this point is unknown. The president of the Center City District Business Association, Paul Levy, told the Inquirer that while his group hopes to keep the services and employment from the hospital if it closes, but there would be a huge, new opportunity for the city.

“The top priority is to preserve the medical services and jobs the hospital represents,” Levy said. “If, unfortunately, it was impossible to save them…it could create a whole new zone in the city.”

RELATED STORIES:

Bernie Sanders Holds a Rally Against Hospital Closure, abc Action News Philadelphia.

 

Philly Set To Open Its “Yards”

As tourists head for Hudson Yards in New York City this summer, Philadelphia is ready to unveil the first part of what it hopes will eventually be a similar experience—the 14-acre, $3.5 billion West Philadelphia renovation dubbed Schuylkill Yards.

The first of the four projects that will make up Schuykill Yards will open in June. Drexel Square is a 1.3 acre park located across from the 30th Street Station. The space is part of approximately six acres of the project that has been reserved for public space. Drexel Square has been described as the lynchpin of the project and overall vision for the area.

“Some people think you put a big tall building here right outside the train station,” developer Brandywine Realty Trust’s chief executive Gerard H. Sweeney told the New York Times in 2018. “But you’ve got to create a platform for excellence, and the way you do that is you invest in public space. You create a place where people want to be.”

The City of Brotherly Love’s Yards won’t have the size and sparkle of Manhattan’s version, but developers hope to create its own Philadelphia-specific experience, something that doesn’t feel corporate or created but more like a neighborhood that came about organically.

The 14 acres of Schuykill Yards sit between 30th Street Station and Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania and will take 15 to 20 years to finish development of the entire area. It is all part of an attempt to pull together Philadelphia’s Center City district with University City and all of the business, research, and residential development in the area to form a singular downtown, according to the philly.com.

After Drexel Square, the next phase of the project is the renovation of a former newspaper building that borders the eastern edge of Drexel Square. Architects plan to keep the 50s industrial structure as they give it a modern makeover, according to the philly.com article.

Finally this winter, developers are scheduled to break ground on two towers—a more than 770,000-square-foot office building and a mixed use building next door that will have 344 apartments plus 200,000-squre-feet of office space.

The end result will 6.9 million square feet of office, lab, residential, and green space, a coming together of the business, retail, academic, commuter, and residential worlds. And another city Yards, just 90 miles south.

Excitement Grows as State-of-the-Art Comcast Technology Center Nears Completion

The most mentioned feature of the stunning new Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia is its height. Whenever anyone talks about the new tech hub and 60-story, skyline-defining building, they will no doubt bring up the 1,121 feet that make it the ninth tallest building in the United States and tallest outside of Chicago or New York.

But developer Liberty Property Trust’s mixed used space at 1800 Arch Street is much more than a gleaming tower that looks down on the rest of the City of Brotherly Love. Designed by Lord Norman Foster of Foster + Partners with Kendall/Heaton Associates Inc as the Architect of Record and L.F. Driscoll Co as the general contractor, BOSS Magazine named the building one of the most interesting construction projects of 2019.

The state of the art steel and concrete building with glass façade has a “split core” that allows for as much light as possible inside during the day. A chilled beam system will keep the interior cool and the structure is designed to shelter the outdoor spaces and plaza from Philly winters. The building was designed to attain LEED Platinum certification.

The $1.5 billion building has 1.8 million square feet—1.3 designated for “office space” (designed as much more open than typical office according to those who have toured Comcast’s already open offices in the building), 200,000 square feet for a 200+ room Four Seasons luxury hotel and 3,770 of retail space. It will house the local NBC and Telemundo studios as well. There is an “accelerator space” for tech start-ups and a commuter concourse underground to connect to the sister Comcast building as well as mass transit. The top floor will have a world-class restaurant from Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

The building’s lobby, complete with gardens, artwork, and coffee bar, opened to the public in October. Comcast employees are working in some of the office space as the construction continues on other floors. The project is expected to be completed spring 2019.