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

Vignettes Of Black Friday

With promotions, discounts and doorbusters already well under way on Thanksgiving Day itself, many big-box retailers are making Black Friday stretch longer than ever.  The Lede is checking out the mood of American consumers in occasional vignettes Thursday and Friday as the economically critical holiday shopping season kicks off.

Shoppers waiting outside Sam’s Club in Eagan, Minn., for Friday’s 7 a.m. opening clung to free Starbuck’s Holiday Blend coffee as they endured freezing temperatures and biting winds and collected brightly colored vouchers for laptops and big-screen TVs.

The biggest draw: a 96-cent Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone.  Once inside, they also beelined for tickets for the 63 Samsungs in stock, which sold out shortly after the store opened.  Customers could make an appointment for later in the day or another day to purchase the phone, choosing from three carriers, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint.

“O.K., this is my last blue for Sprint,” an employee called out at 7:08 a.m.

Read more:  http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/coverage-of-black-friday/?hp