Cities Deploy Fakery Techniques To Cover Up Urban Blight

Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden U.S. cities, has awaited rebirth for a generation. For now, it has Christopher Toepfer and his paintbrush.

Ten feet up a ladder, Toepfer, a 51-year-old artist, is turning a rotting factory’s plywood-covered windows from a mess of gang graffiti into a railroad mural. The spruce-up, though it won’t cure the neighborhood’s ills of poverty and violence, will make a bright spot of the biggest blight on Federal Street.

Thirty years after New York City Mayor Ed Koch drew scorn for gussying up uninhabitable Bronx tenements with decals of curtained windows, urban fakery is spreading in U.S. cities where the recession’s wave of foreclosures added to decades-long decay. The city of Wilmington, Delaware, used the decal approach on a string of row houses earlier this year, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, started working with local artists in October to adopt Toepfer’s approach.

If the technique that Toepfer calls aesthetic board-up is a stopgap, it’s a cheap one, costing just $500 to $1,000 per property, a fraction of demolition costs. It’s also immediate, with a typical makeover done in less than a day.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/07/05/Vacant-House-Fakery-Reborn-as-Cleveland-to-Camden-Fight-Blight/stories/201407040018#ixzz36bqH18zQ

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

SEPTA Regional Rail Strike Begins; Corbett To Seek Federal Help

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPTA railroad engineers and electrical workers went on strike early Saturday, halting commuter rail service in the Philadelphia region, after last-ditch efforts by federal mediators failed to break an impasse in the long-running labor dispute.

The strike shut down 13 Regional Rail lines that provide 60,000 passengers with 126,000 rides on a typical weekday. That promised to snarl already clogged highways with additional cars and to hamper commuters and their employers throughout the region.

Service on SEPTA’s buses, subways, trolleys and the Norristown High-Speed Line – which carry about 85 percent of SEPTA’s riders – were not affected.

Gov. Corbett was prepared to ask President Obama to quickly appoint a presidential emergency board to mediate the rail labor dispute. Under federal railroad law, the creation of such a board would compel the workers to return to the job for 240 days.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140614_Last-ditch_talks_pending_as_Regional_Rail_strike_looms.html#v26c8poq4F1xhoJB.99

Obama Makes West Philly A ‘Promise’

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighting West Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TODAY, a day after the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” President Obama will announce that a section of West Philadelphia has been selected as one of the first five federal “Promise Zones,” a new program aimed at turning around some of the country’s poorest neighborhoods.

Mayor Nutter will join Obama in the White House to announce the program, which gives the selected areas preferential treatment when applying for federal grants to boost early education, reduce crime and spur economic growth.

The Philadelphia “Promise Zone,” which encompasses Mantua and surrounding areas, has about 35,000 residents, 51 percent of whom live in poverty and 13.6 percent of whom are unemployed.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20140109_Obama_makes_West_Philly_a__Promise_.html#0ji38k5HFpegZEbF.99

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Philly Ups Aggressive Tactics In Fighting Blight With CLIP Bill

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

CODE OFFICERS looking to rid nuisance conditions in locked-up, vacant lots around town just might get a pair of shears to gain access, if a bill becomes law by the end of January.

Legislation passed in City Council on Thursday would allow workers in city’s Community Life Improvement Programs, or CLIP, to clip the locks on vacant and abandoned fenced-in lots whose owners are either lost, unknown or unresponsive.

The ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, gives greater power to CLIP, which works to improve the appearance of neighborhoods and eradicate blight.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131215_City_ups_aggressive_tactics_in_fighting_blight_with_CLIP_bill.html#VPr0fYt2tSrQLCqu.99

NY Chef’s Jaw Broken In Philly Attack

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

A Manhattan chef suffered a broken jaw while walking in Philadelphia last week in what he believes could be a vicious example of a so-called “knockout” attack – but police aren’t yet calling it that.

But police say they are investigating the assault on Diego Moya, 30, and hoping to locate surveillance video in hopes of finding suspects, said Officer Jillian Russell, a department spokeswoman.

According to police and Moya’s own account to the New York Daily News, Moya had just finished eating pizza with some friends in Old City when he headed out toward the hostel he was staying at on the first block of S. Bank Street about 11 p.m. Tuesday. He had been in town visiting his parents for a pre-Thanksgiving visit.

While on Bank Street, Moya was attacked from behind. He told the New York Daily News he believes it was a group of males between the ages of 16 and 21.  Philadelphia police said Moya was not able to give a description of any attackers after they arrived about 11:30 p.m.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Report_NY_chef_breaks_jaw_in_knockout_game_in_Philly.html#QlAX3wWl5FOYoMFK.99

Construction Of Philly’s Mormon Temple Without Caffeine, Smoking, Swearing

It’s been two years since ground was broken in Center City on a massive Mormon temple and visitors’ center, and it might just be one of the more remarkable construction sites in recent city history.

Let’s just say the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) goes by its own rules — not those typically found in local union handbooks. And it makes sure those rules are enforced.

No smoking. No coffee. No swearing.

Praying optional — but encouraged.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Construction_of_Phillys_Mormon_Temple_without_caffeine_smoking_swearing.html#BeIx151RoqqI1YFX.99

Philadelphia Council Committee Says Yes To A Land Bank

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

After years of talking the talk about getting a land bank in Philadelphia, where blight scars entire neighborhoods, City Council started Monday to walk the walk.

On a 6-1 vote, Council’s Committee on Public Property and Public Works approved a resolution to establish a land bank. The bill still needs a vote of the full Council.

If it approves, Philadelphia would become the largest city with a land bank. Land banks streamline the process for rescuing blighted property, whether by homeowners who want to turn a vacant lot next door into a garden or developers who hope to buy clusters of houses to make way for a major project.

One expert said Philadelphia was better equipped than some cities with land banks, such as Flint, Mich.; Cleveland; and St. Louis.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20131029_Phila__Council_committee_says_yes_to_a_land_bank.html#86b2DVYsKXDDfbXV.99

10 Homicides In Philadelphia Since Saturday

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Ten people have been killed in Philadelphia since Saturday, an unusually deadly four-day span in the city.

The killings, which have all involved gun violence, have been reported across the city and are not related.  Police have not announced arrests in any of the slayings.

The most recent two homicides occurred overnight.

Shortly after midnight, a 21-year-old man was found fatally shot in a car on the 900 block of North Marvine Street, police said.  The man, whose name has not been released, was shot once in the head, police said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/10_homicides_in_Philadelphia_since_Saturday.html#2bZHPrTGEXqhhZIA.99

Changing Skyline: Philly Steering Toward Bike Sharing

Philadelphia didn’t need Bicycling magazine to confirm that it is one of America’s best biking cities (No. 17 on its 2012 list).  You can see it every day on the streets:

Near northeast corner, May 2005.

Near northeast corner, May 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The steady stream of commuters sluicing down Center City‘s bike lanes.  The tangle of bikes hitched to U-shaped racks and bike corrals.  (More, please.)  The proliferation of neighborhood bike shops.

Philadelphia probably could have ranked higher in the magazine’s esteem if it had a bike-sharing program, like most of the list’s top 20 cities.  You can now find cheap, on-street bike rentals in more than 135 places around the world, many of them with worse weather and hillier streets than Philadelphia.  Yet the city has remained strangely ambivalent toward the concept, even as private bikes have become a popular transit option within the city.

But the sight of Mayor Nutter tooling around Rittenhouse Square last week on a canary-yellow cruiser suggests Philadelphia is finally ready to commit.  To show the city’s seriousness, his Transportation Department organized a daylong bike-sharing demonstration with three top vendors, supplying a docking-station’s worth of bikes in paint-box colors.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20130510_Changing_Skyline__City_steering_toward_bike_sharing.html#oeXi4rzPYwBAAXdv.99

‘Catastrophic’ Budget Laid Out By Philly Schools

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

If the “catastrophic” budget picture Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. laid out Thursday comes to pass, Philadelphia schools would be virtually unrecognizable come September.

There could be no money for counselors or librarians. There might be no sports or extracurricular activities. No dedicated funds for secretaries, aides, or summer school would be provided. And that would follow the steep cuts made over the last two years.

There also could be 3,000 layoffs, including some teachers.

This doomsday scenario comes as a result of a deficit of more than $300 million in the district’s $2.7 billion 2013-14 budget. Officials have asked for $120 million in additional funding from the state and $60 million from the city, as well as $133 million in concessions from labor unions.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20130419__Catastrophic__budget_laid_out_by_Philly_schools.html

Creating A Buzz For 14 Philadelphia Neighborhoods

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighting West Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To some, they are former diamonds in the rough, locales that a decade or so of change has polished into something now truly unique.

And many have made the cut as city neighborhoods that the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. will be showcasing in a new, two-year campaign.

The 14 areas, to be unveiled Friday as part of the campaign’s launch, are: Fairmount, Spring Garden, Graduate Hospital, Callowhill, Bella Vista, East Passyunk, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Queen Village, Pennsport, Cedar Park, Spruce Hill, University City, and Powelton Village.

“Philly is a city of neighborhoods. What does that really mean?” GPTMC president and chief executive Meryl Levitz said of the impetus behind the campaign. “We want people to go one block farther. People haven’t felt this good about Philly as they do now.”

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130405_Philadelphia_s_gems__Its_neighborhoods__that_is.html#ixzz2PbMBcjXg 
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Yuengling Fights Back Over Philly Lawsuit

After D.G. Yuengling and Son became the biggest American-owned brewery, the Pottsville company celebrated last year with a “Here’s to you, Philly,” promotion during which it offered a free serving of its signature lager to bar patrons around Philadelphia.

The company said beer drinkers in the City of Brotherly Love helped revive the popularity of its historic brand, which has become one of the fastest-growing brews in the country.

So it seems fitting that the company’s fifth-generation owner, Dick Yuengling, said he was “the happiest guy in the beer business” until he found out the city he chose to celebrate his company’s success with has slapped the brewery with a lawsuit seeking more than $6 million.

The lawsuit stems from a disagreement between the city and Yuengling about whether the company has to pay Philadelphia’s business income and receipts tax, which is assessed on companies doing business in the city.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-yuengling-fires-back-20130207,0,3754013.story

Philly Says Yuengling Owes $6.6 Million In Taxes

English: Finished bottles of Traditional Lager...

English: Finished bottles of Traditional Lager being placed into cases at Yuengling Brewery, Pottsville, PA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHEN Dick Yuengling bought a round of beers for more than 10,000 Philadelphians on National Drink Beer Day last year, he said “the city has truly shown our family business brotherly love, and we’d like to raise a glass to that.”

Now, Dick Yuengling may be throwing back a few of his own brews after receiving a civil lawsuit from the city that claims his brewery, D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc., has failed to pay more than $6.6 million in city taxes, interest and penalty fees.

How does a Pottsville-based beer company that doesn’t have a brewery or a plant in Philadelphia come to owe millions in business-income and receipts taxes to the city?

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20130205_City_says_Yuengling_owes__6_6_million_in_taxes.html