2 Bodies Pulled From Schuylkill River In Philadelphia

Two men were stabbed, bound and their bodies sunk with a makeshift anchor in the Schuylkill River, while a third man found half-dressed said he had been abducted in a bizarre series of events off Kelly Drive early this morning.

Philadelphia police were at the scene along the east side of the river, just past the John Kelly statue, for several hours this morning trying to untangle what happened to the three men.

The surviving victim told investigators that he had been grabbed by a group of about five men, thrown in the back of a van, stabbed, robbed and taken to the river with the two men whose bodies were later pulled from water. The other two were already in the van when he was abducted, the victim told police.

The investigation began around 4 a.m., when officers were called to the 2300 block of Kelly Drive, just past the statue, for a report of a man screaming, Chief Inspector Scott Small said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/2_pulled_from_Schuylkill_River_.html#Pqt8zJw3YJCdDiCQ.99

Plans For Two Hotels At 15th & Chestnut Taking Shape

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next week, developers will present their designs for the W and Element Hotels planned for 15th and Chestnut streets to the Center City Residents Association. The presentation is for information only: The planned project requires no zoning variances and can be built by right.

According to a description shared with PlanPhilly by an attorney working on the project, the hotels will have a total of 755 rooms. There will be 295 rooms in the four-star W Hotel, and 460 rooms in the three-star, extended-stay Element by Westin. The entire hotel operation will be managed by Starwood, a Connecticut-based hospitality company.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Plans_for_two_hotels_at_15th_and_Chestnut_taking_shape.html#P5wsWYOKxqO3JmVS.99

Seizing The Moment: Ajay Raju Thinks Philly’s On The Verge Of Greatness

English: no original description

English: no original description (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BORN IN INDIA – made in America, Ajay Raju likes to say.

He might not be a household name in Philadelphia, but drop it around any of the power brokers who make this city churn like a giant waterwheel and you’ve just made a friend.

He’s not in the Kennedy class yet, but Raju’s name is – and has been – getting a lot of traction.

He serves on more than a dozen nonprofit boards, gives his money away unabashedly to philanthropic causes and is constantly mulling the next big idea, such as a proposed online, citizen-based journalism project with former Daily News editor Larry Platt.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140819_Seizing_the_moment__Ajay_Raju_thinks_Philly_s_on_the_verge_of_greatness.html#TrmQ1scDqCWpYTQc.99

VIDEO: Pottstown Man Arrested In Taped Beating At Philly’s Love Park

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140818/video-pottstown-man-oe-of-2-arrested-in-taped-beating-at-phillys-love-park

Skater Has No Love For Ranger At LOVE Park

LOVE Park

LOVE Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  The person of interest is apparently from Pottstown.  If any Pottstown peeps can identify this person, please call 215-686-TIPS (-8477).  Click on the read more link to see a video of the altercation.

REGULAR skaters at LOVE Park say they have a subtle truce with the rangers, a cat-and-mouse game of grinding along concrete steps when they’re gone and leaving peacefully with wheels up when they show up.

The skaters were OK with that, too, but now they fear that some “suburban kid who always acts hard” has ruined it for all of them by punching, kicking and spitting on a ranger who tried to get him and some other skaters to leave Friday afternoon.

“He’s an idiot,” skater Ki Realer, 34, said of the unidentified suspect, who is wanted by police on assault charges. “Not only are the police looking for him, but he’ll also never be welcome here again. Now we all know what’s coming for the rest of us.”

The incident happened about 5:30 p.m. Friday, police said – a day after a big antiviolence vigil in LOVE Park – and was witnessed by a large crowd that included Michael “Philly Jesus” Grant, who was profiled in a Daily News cover story on Aug. 8.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140818_Skater_has_no_love_for_ranger_at_LOVE_Park.html#QquJ4Q4Z5Lxcr2TE.99

George Takei Has A Bone To Pick With Wawa

Math: It’s hard, especially if you’re a convenience store like, say, Wawa. But don’t worry—best friend to the Internet, George Takei, is here to clear everything up.

Takei recently posted up an image of none other than a Wawa coffee cup to his massively popular Facebook page (7.4 million likes and counting) with a few sections underlined.

Yes, because math, indeed. Takei apparently took this perceived error to heart, calling the labels “rather misleading.” As you can imagine, the comments section of the post has gone into full-fervor mode, with Wawa’s endless line of zealots (AKA us) kindly—and not so kindly—explaining why, in fact, Wawa is never wrong. Like, ever.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/trending/George-Takei-has-a-bone-to-pick-with-Wawa.html#1PywPH7AR3VUCEkQ.99

Alleged Wife-Killer: ‘I Just Want This To Go Away’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHRISTOPHER Murray said his wife was “a beautiful woman; a loving, caring mother, a fabulous friend.”

No one in Northeast Philadelphia would dispute that. Connie Murray was all those things and more.

But before he clammed up on a Daily News reporter Wednesday night – the day police released autopsy results revealing that his wife had been slain – Murray said something else.

Not that he wanted the public’s help in tracking down her killer. He said he wanted to move on, one day after her body was found in Pennypack Park.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140811_Alleged_wife-killer___I_just_want_this_to_go_away_.html#XGqMX3aqZj8S1BSb.99

Mormon Apartment Tower, Meetinghouse Complex Passes Design Review

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After reviewing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ plans for an apartment tower, townhouses, retail space, and a meetinghouse at 1601 Vine St., the city Planning Commission’s Design Review Committee advised the church to open a garden to the public, work with the Streets Department to improve traffic flow on adjacent Wood Street, and use a higher-grade material than blacktop in a public courtyard.

The committee then closed its review, with little information on the large amount of public art the church is required to provide.

CDR committee members, who met earlier this week, weren’t totally thrilled about that last bit.

“Whatever we decide here becomes the way future developers come before us,” said committee member Cecil Baker. “This is part of the public realm. When jobs get this large, it’s a very important part. This is a major, major opportunity, the likes of which come rarely.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Mormon_apartment_tower_meetinghouse_complex_passes_design_review.html#GqLhlWDwGYvu5sA2.99

Sex Trafficking On The Rise; Philly A Hub

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

THE YOUNG woman who befriended Tiffany on the Internet seemed innocent enough – so in the midst of a rough patch with her father, the 16-year-old Northeast Philadelphia girl let her new cyber-friend pick her up at home.

When she got into the taxi on that fateful day in January 2006, Tiffany didn’t know that she was stepping into a dark underworld of violence, drugs and sex slavery. The seemingly normal young woman she’d met on MySpace.com delivered her into the hands of Rahiim McIntyre, 36, a now-convicted violent sex trafficker who awaits sentencing in federal prison.

Over the next two weeks, she would face unimaginable horrors as she plotted to get away from her captor without being caught and beaten – or worse.

The experience of Tiffany – a pseudonym created by the Daily News to protect her identity – is not uncommon.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140805_NE_Philly_teen_s_sex-slave_experience_is_all_too_common.html#AcdIPfsVqMRObkto.99

Six Philly Cops Charged With Robbery, Kidnapping, Extortion

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stories of shakedowns, brutality, kidnapping, and theft have dogged a group of the city’s Narcotics Field Unit officers for nearly a decade. But despite multiple investigations, cases against them never stuck.

Federal prosecutors set out to change that Wednesday, laying out a sprawling racketeering case against six of the unit’s former members. The charges paint them as rogue cops running roughshod over the rights of their targets, confident that few would believe anyone who dared complain.

As the years went on, the 26-count indictment suggests, Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser became only more brazen.

Between February 2006 and November 2012, it states, they stole more than $500,000 in cash, drugs, and personal property – all while using extreme force, and falsifying police reports to downplay their takes.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20140731_Sources__6_cops_arrested_in_federal_corruption_probe.html#pWDPXOjjIRGx2K3V.99

Fiscal Board Approves Philadelphia’s 5-Year Plan

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia’s finances are improving and are likely to continue doing so through 2019.

The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) board made that optimistic determination Monday when it unanimously approved the city’s five-year plan.

The city’s fiscal overseers cautioned, however, that various risks were still associated with the Nutter administration’s long-term budget, including unresolved labor contracts, the School District’s fiscal crisis, and the pension fund.

Despite its concerns, PICA staff found enough good news in the five-year plan and in its most recent revenue reports to endorse that administration’s fiscal road map to 2019. So did the City Controller’s Office. Both the staff and the controller had recommended the opposite last year, for the first time in PICA’s history.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140722_PICA_likes_Phila__s_5-year_plan.html#qRukpGb4zKGUI7xu.99

Pittsburgh Planners See Potential In A Revamped Mellon Square

DSC01808Could Mellon Square become the next Market Square?

While it’s no European-style piazza, some believe the area around the newly restored park could be primed to become one of Downtown’s next hot spots for restaurants and retail.

“I see it becoming the next great Downtown destination,” said Herky Pollock, executive vice president of the CBRE real estate firm.

Only a few years ago, the Smithfield Street corridor between Fifth and Liberty avenues that includes Mellon Square appeared to be ready for last rites.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/07/21/Planners-developers/stories/201407200210#ixzz3892O45lx

Meter Tamperer Generates Probation For Defrauding PECO Of $346K

NORRISTOWN, PA — A Philadelphia man who tampered with utility meters to reduce some account holders’ monthly PECO electrical bills, to the tune of nearly $350,000, has generated some court supervision in connection with the five-county theft scheme.

Marcelino Cuadra Jr., 47, of Aramingo Avenue, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to seven years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to charges of corrupt organizations, theft of services and conspiracy to commit theft of services in connection with the meter tampering incidents that occurred in Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, Delaware and Philadelphia counties between December 2009 and October 2012.

Judge Garrett D. Page also ordered Cuadra to complete 60 hours of community service as a condition of the sentence. Cuadra must pay $346,750 in restitution to PECO, the judge said.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20140714/meter-tamperer-generates-probation-for-defrauding-peco-of-346k

Changing Skyline: Is ‘Over-Success’ In Development Hurting Philadelphia?

English: 1616 Walnut Street Building in Philad...

English: 1616 Walnut Street Building in Philadelphia. On NRHP since October 17, 1983 1616 Walnut Street in Rittenhouse Square East neighborhood of Center City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It wasn’t long ago that Philadelphia’s movers and shakers were lamenting that the city was being ignored by international retailers. Those chains finally discovered the city, and now they’re colonizing the shopping districts around Rittenhouse Square and the West Philadelphia universities at a stunning pace. Sometimes, the only way to be sure you’re not at the King of Prussia Mall is to look up at the sky.

Having gotten what it wished for, the city is starting to feel the first side effects of what New York urbanist Kent Barwick, former head of the Municipal Arts Society, identified as “the over-successful city.”

This may sound like an odd worry in a town that looks over its shoulder and still sees Detroit. It’s certainly great that the chains help draw throngs to Walnut and Chestnut Streets again. They’ve brought their stylish displays and uncovered the dormant charms of many old commercial buildings. Yet, there is a numbing sameness to much of the retail. You’ve seen identical mannequins in identical outfits perched in windows on New York’s Fifth Avenue, Boston’s Newbury Street, and Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/inga_saffron/20140711_Is__over-success__in_development_hurting_Phila__.html#OwFqlzCPsHwibjmA.99

Police Probe 2 Overnight Killings In North Philadelphia

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia police are investigating two overnight killings that happened less than a mile apart in North Philadelphia.

The first happened shortly after 11 p.m., when a 53-year-old was beaten in the head with a blunt object outside a home on the 2800 block of North Fairhill Street, police said.

The exact weapon used wasn’t known, but police at the scene told reporters that witnesses reported seeing a man running from the scene carrying some type of metal object.

Police this morning identified the victim as Miguel Aguilar and said he lived on the block where he was killed.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Police_probe_2_overnight_killings_in_North_Philadelphia.html#ACJ6RB92h5orJZkM.99

Homeownership In Philadelphia Tumbles, Report Says

The homeownership rate in Philadelphia declined sharply between 2000 and 2012, primarily as a consequence of the prolonged and sweeping real estate downturn that followed the bursting of the housing bubble in 2006-07, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Although Philadelphia’s homeownership rate remains high among the nation’s 30 largest cities, the 7.1 percentage-point drop in owner-occupied units – from 59.3 percent to 52.2 percent, or by 47,082 – was surpassed only by Phoenix, which suffered record foreclosures and price declines when the market swooned, the Pew study shows.

Stagnant incomes, rising home prices, and tight credit, all products of the recession, have cut into owner-occupied numbers, the study showed.

In addition, young professionals who once were the chief source of first-time buyers are either wary of homeownership or burdened by student-loan debt.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20140710_Homeownership_in_Philadelphia_tumbles__report_says.html#PLLsApVZLecmI3H2.99

PHS Pop-Up Garden To Offer A Summer’s Worth Of Tropical Entertainment

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once again, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has transformed a vacant space into a lush hangout spot, perfect for leisurely summer afternoons and evenings. This year’s PHS Pop-Up Garden sits at 1438-46 South Street (next to the Jamaican Jerk Hut) and officially opens on Tuesday, July 8 at 5:30 p.m. and remains open seven days a week until mid-October.

The garden itself is open to the public starting at 11 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, 2 p.m. on Saturdays and noon on Sundays while food and drink will be served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, 2 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Expect tropical cocktails, craft beer, a changing group of food trucks and Caribbean menu items from the Jamaican Jerk Hut.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/things_to_do/PHS-Pop-Up-Garden-to-offer-a-summers-worth-of-tropical-entertainment.html

10 Pottstown YMCA Coaches Resign In Solidarity With Cook

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — The Pottstown YMCA swim program suffered a major blow Wednesday night when the entire coaching staff of the Pottstown YMCA Seahawks swim team — 10 assistant coaches in all — submitted their resignation in the wake of the sudden dismissal of longtime Pottstown YMCA Seahawks head swim coach Kathy Cook on June 11.

Amy Agnew, Mark Agnew, Bill Draves, Catherine Fink, Michele Bauer, Alex Diehl, Andrew Piasecki and John Zimmerman marched as a group into the Pottstown YMCA shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday to resign on the spot.

Two other coaches, Stacey Filippini and Mark Ottinger, were out of town Wednesday, but also resigned their posts.

Their letter of resignation to Pottstown YMCA Executive Director Dan Albert spells out why they quit the program.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140702/10-pottstown-ymca-coaches-resign-in-solidarity-with-cook

Dietz & Watson To Build $50M Complex In Tacony

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cold-cuts maker Dietz & Watson will build a $50 million, 200,000 square-foot trucking and distribution center on a large tract between the company’s Tacony Street headquarters and the old Frankford Arsenal on the Delaware River, Gov. Corbett and Mayor Nutter confirmed this morning.

The deal was first reported from industry and city sources June 18 in The Inquirer.

The center will employ 110 who will pack and ship Dietz & Watson and Black Bear-brand meats and cheeses. Another 50 or more jobs will be created as the facility expands, Corbett said in a statement.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140625_Dietz___Watson_to_build__50M_complex_in_Tacony.html#pcbr39xshytokp7S.99

Philly Orchard Project Raise Money For A Greener, Healthier City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Growing up in Philadelphia, if my family wanted to visit a farm or an orchard to pick our own fruits and vegetables, we had to get in the car for a long ride. In more recent years, however, there has been a push to provide more green spaces and more community gardens and orchards that would help provide healthier food options to urban neighborhoods, especially those where food scarcity is a serious issue. Since 2007, the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) has been working with community-based groups and volunteers to plan and plant orchards in the city.

On Saturday, June 28 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Friends of Philadelphia Orchard Project and Sedgley Woods are holding a fundraiser to support the work POP has been doing. At this family-friendly event, you are invited to come learn how to putt, and drive discs from golfers of Sedgley Woods in East Fairmount Park. Tickets start at $15 and include a free POP pint glass. Children under the age of 12 are free.

The money raised will allow POP to continue its work planting orchards in vacant lots, community gardens, schoolyards as well as other urban locations. So far they have supported 46 orchards and have planted 36 orchards and 697 trees. Their bounty has included apples, asian pears, cherries, figs, peaches, pears, plums, berries, grapes and kiwi.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/things_to_do/Friends-of-Philadelphia-Orchard-Project-raise-money-for-a-greener-healthier-city.html#YSTwwDPt0Kf8c3XE.99