Half A Block Leveled Without Permits In Philadelphia

Little more than a year after a botched demolition triggered a Center City building collapse that killed six, a demolition company took down nearly half a block of buildings in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section without obtaining the required permits, an Inquirer investigation has found.

While dismantling five buildings last spring, Ashaw Demolition of Oxford Circle also brought down a house that had been in a family for four generations without informing the owner, the owner contends in court documents.

And Ashaw used at least some of the unsafe and discredited techniques that caused the collapse at 22d and Market Streets, city inspectors said.

The demolition violated tough new rules the city adopted so the tragedy of the collapse would never be repeated, inspectors said.

Read more:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Building_anxiety_at_LandI.html

Center City District: Housing Boom Continues

The housing boom rolling across central Philadelphia showed no signs of weakening last year, according to data released Tuesday, but a population exodus could be on the near horizon if little is done to fix the city’s schools and tax structure.

The news was mostly positive out of Center City District’s annual housing report, which found that 1,983 new apartments, condos, and houses between Girard and Tasker Avenues, and the Schuylkill and Delaware River hit the market in 2014, thanks to an influx of empty nesters and young professionals, said CCD chief executive Paul Levy.

That number was down 8.5 percent from the record-breaking 2,168 logged a year earlier. But Levy and his staff concluded that demand for the torrent of new construction of homes and apartments would be strong for at least several more years.

“Property is selling for more. It’s selling more quickly,” Levy said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150218_Center_City_District__Housing_boom_continues.html#gfAQAl0PUIx9wOV9.99

Philly’s On A Roll

Kat Clark, 25, has chosen to make a home in West Philadelphia after graduating in 2012 from Swarthmore College.

“It’s just a great place to live,” she said as she sipped coffee at La Colombe in the shadow of City Hall. Though the Chicago-area native considered relocating to New York City after school, the lure of Philadelphia’s cultural offerings, combined with the city’s comparative affordability, proved too tempting.

“There are a lot of artistic people around and this great academic scene,” she said, ticking off a laundry list of attributes that drew her to move here. “It’s not too large, but you can still do everything else you would do in a big city.

“In Philly, there’s still a lot going on, but you have space to grow,” echoed her friend, 24-year-old Tayarisha Poe.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Philly_is_on_a_national_roll.html

Hotels, Money, David Cohen Helped Philly Snag 2016 Democratic National Convention

WASHINGTON – Hotels, money, Comcast executive David L. Cohen, and maybe some special treatment at the Liberty Bell all helped Philadelphia get over the top to win the right to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, city and party leaders said Thursday afternoon.

“The role of Philadelphia in shaping our nation’s history is unmatched,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee. “But what’s also unmatched is the comprehensive proposal” the city put together.

The three finalists to host the convention — Philadelphia, New York and Columbus, Ohio — were judged on logistics, security and resources to host the gathering that Democrats hope will serve as an energizing springboard to the 2016 presidential race, Wasserman Schultz said on an afternoon conference call with reporters.

Philadelphia presented the best combination of all three – though the proximity of thousands of hotel rooms to the Wells Fargo Center and sports complex were among its biggest draws, she said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/capitolinq/Hotels-money-David-Cohen-boosted-Philly-convention-bid.html#BvsKUxkxJvvgDLfi.99

Philadelphia Schools Plan To Hire 400 Teachers In 2015-16

The Philadelphia School District plans to hire at least 400 teachers for the 2015-16 school year.

In a district that has spent the last several years closing schools and laying off teachers, that is notable.

Particular areas of need, officials said, are secondary math and science, special education, art, music, and upper elementary school.

In an effort to compete with charter schools and other systems, the district has also changed its application process, shortening the hiring timeline and requiring applicants to submit more information up front.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20150202_Phila__schools_plan_to_hire_400_teachers_in_2015-16.html#bVX3ueoSf5fh64GA.99

The 10 Best Cities For Millennial Renters – And The Five Worst

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — Chew on this: in much of the country, it is cheaper to own than to rent. Read that again. A RealtyTrac survey of some 473 U.S. counties found that in 68% it is cheaper to buy than to rent. But there is a big exception. In many of the counties that are most attractive to Millennials, renting is significantly cheaper. That makes sense, because, so far, Millennials are shaping up as renters, and they are delaying home purchases.

Per RealtyTrac numbers, in the 25 counties with the biggest jump in Millennial population in the period 2007 to 2013, fair market rental rates for a three bedroom dwelling average 30% of household income. Buying in those markets requires 36% of household income. In some markets, the spreads are even greater. Renting in Hudson County, N.J. – directly across from Manhattan, in Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken, etc. – runs around 33% of median household income. Buying takes a much bigger bite, around 47% of income to purchase a median priced home. Hudson County, by the way, ranks sixth in RealtyTrac’s tally of the places with the biggest influx of Millennials. Millennial population there grew by 35.67% in the 2007 to 2013 period.

Where else exactly are Millennials flocking? And where are they fleeing? Note: it is not cheap just about anywhere. RealtyTrac analysis pegs the average fair market rent in the top 25 counties for Millennials at $1,459. That’s 19% above the national average. But some towns that draw Millennials are dramatically more affordable than many others.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/philly/story/the-10-best-cities-millennial-renters-and-the-five-worst/1?page=1

Philadelphia Region Braces For More Snow

The Philadelphia area is preparing for another round of snow to hit during the night.

The snowfall would be the second the area has seen this week, an unusual occurrence in a winter that’s been nearly snow-free thus far.

The biggest threat appears to be hazardous driving conditions overnight, from around midnight through around 6 a.m. Saturday, with snow, ice and a wintry mix threatening to hit much of eastern Pennsylvania and non-coastal parts of New Jersey.

Transportation officials were gearing up for plowing and salting operations. PennDot was warning motorists that clearing roads during a storm was a time-consuming operation, and drivers should use caution.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150124_Philadelphia_region_braces_for_more_snow.html#oKKHbQdlhTVGVMZ0.99

For Colony Of Merchants, Gallery Makeover Is Painful

Every day, Miss Anna comes to the Gallery – and on Tuesday, she was particularly elegant, in a long purple sweater, fashionable hairstyle, her eyebrows etched in darkly, perfectly arched.

“Her brother died two years ago,” said George Thomas, who owns the Creative Silver jewelry kiosk on the ground floor. “She was crushed. If I don’t see Miss Anna for two days, I worry. I call her.”

Who will worry about Anna Mazella, an Aramark retiree in her 80s, when Thomas closes his business – not by choice – at the end of the month?

In November, the Gallery’s owners, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and the Macerich Co., began to tell dozens of merchants that they would have deadlines to leave – some by the end of December, others at the end of January or February.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150121_For_colony_of_merchants__Gallery_makeover_is_painful.html#SEk4SQJIJbQS6D4o.99

Grand Plans For Riverfront Hotels, Wedding Halls In Fishtown

Developer Bart Blatstein and caterer Joseph Volpe say they have signed a contract with Exelon Corp. to buy the former Delaware Station electric plant on the Delaware River in the city’s Fishtown section.

The property boast a 1,000-foot stretch of waterfront and includes a pier.

“We envision two boutique hotels, each leading into their own ballrooms with 55-foot-high ceilings,” said Volpe, owner of Cescaphe Event Group, which organizes 600 wedding receptions a year at its five Philadelphia venues.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind property,” said Blatstein, best known for the Piazza at Schmidt’s and other housing-and-retail projects that have helped transform some of the city’s older, grittier neighborhoods.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150116_Grand_plans_for_riverfront_hotels__wedding_halls_in_Fishtown.html#yu0DdUDgHTFBg6HI.99

Top 15 Reasons To Visit Philadelphia In 2015

With 2015 comes plenty of reasons for visitors to plan a trip to Philadelphia. In fact, only-in-Philly projects, exhibitions, anniversaries and celebrations will give first-time visitors incentives to make that return trip and return visitors reasons to come back yet again.

So what’s on the calendar? The Tall Ships Challenge Philadelphia Camden 2015, showing off a dozen historic ships on the Delaware River Waterfront; Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, featuring more than 80 works by a who’s who of painters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and a special exhibition at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland.

Of course, all eyes will be on Philadelphia when thousands of Catholic families from around the globe — and Pope Francis — gather for the eighth World Meeting of Families.

Here are some of the major happenings taking place throughout Philadelphia in 2015:

Read more: http://www.visitphilly.com/articles/philadelphia/top-15-reasons-to-visit-philadelphia-in-2015/?utm_campaign=WinterSummer2015&utm_source=Philly.com

Target Aiming To Build Small Center City Stores

For years, landlords tried to coax Target to open one of its big-box stores in the heart of Philadelphia. Each time they failed, daunted by the difficulty of plunking a store the size of two football fields into a packed downtown.

That chase appears to have come to an end, with a much smaller version called Target Express now looking to make a splash at multiple locations in the hottest pockets of redevelopment near Philadelphia’s core.

Target Corp. is hunting for lease deals in Center City and University City to build what could be as many as four of the new stores, which are about one-sixth the size of a suburban Target.

The goal is to bring the brand to the very Baby Boomers and young professionals who became loyal customers in the suburbs, but who increasingly are moving into resurgent central Philadelphia.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150109_Target_aiming_to_build_small_Center_City_stores.html#jQsGpabPqVtiiwUp.99

Frontier Increasing Its Presence In Philadelphia

Frontier Airlines has announced  it will fly to Chicago O’Hare, Charlotte, and Atlanta daily from Philadelphia International Airport, beginning March 13.

An introductory fare starting at $19 one-way will be available until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday at http://www.flyfrontier.com for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through April 29.

Fares from $49 one-way will be available on the company’s website until 11:59 p.m. Jan. 10 for travel on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays through May 16. Seats may be limited, and blackout dates will apply.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150107_Frontier_increasing_its_presence_in_Philadelphia.html#PjJgmfXpSLdGHhOs.99

Philadelphia Braces For Mind-Numbing Cold

Philadelphians will wake up Thursday to the winter’s first single-digit day. At 4 a.m. the temperature was expected to plunge to 9 degrees. And AccuWeather was calling for a “Real-Feel” temperature of -14 degrees.

But hang in there.

“It will be getting warmer. Or less cold,” said Gary Szatkowski, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mount Holly, N.J. “I don’t know if 37 will feel warm. But it will feel less cold.”

To get to 37 degrees – Sunday’s expected high – the city first needs to bear a high of 20 degrees Thursday, 34 degrees Friday, and 25 degrees Saturday.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150108_Phila__braces_for_mind-numbing_cold.html#75SbwG1JJzQRxZC6.99

Philadelphia’s Murder Rate At Historic Low: A Look At Why

When Philadelphia’s murder total fell to a historic low in 2013, officials believed it was no fluke.

Now, with 2014 at the same rate – and other violence also down – experts say the city is indeed getting safer.

With 248 slain, the toll is one above last year’s – and a 25 percent drop from 2012. But statistics show police in 2014 solved fewer killings than in 2013.

Overall, violent crime fell 7 percent.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150103_Phila__s_murder_rate_drops__A_look_at_why.html#zmVkOtUqefw3dcCO.99

No Holiday Cheer At The Philadelphia Gallery

MOHAMMAD HOSSAIN has sold jewelry from his Gold Center kiosk in the Gallery mall on East Market Street for 10 years, and yesterday he wore a weary expression.

Despite the holiday season, Hossain and other merchants weren’t feeling cheerful. PREIT, the owner of the Gallery, has told them to vacate by either Dec. 31 or Jan. 31.

PREIT has plans to redevelop the Gallery, which means the stores and kiosks will be moved out for at least a year.

George Thomas, who has operated a jewelry kiosk there for 20 years, said merchants are angry.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20141214_No_holiday_cheer_at_the_Gallery.html#4y8Ur2uzxQh6rLqw.99

Forecasters Warn Of Snow, Sleet In Philadelphia Area

The Philadelphia region could see periods of snow and sleet today, forecasters are warning.

The National Weather Service says a mix of rain, snow and sleet is likely for the area through early afternoon. The precipitation should then transition to rain and sleet and eventually just rain by late afternoon, the weather service said.

Any snow is most likely between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and less than an inch is expected. Any accumulation should be limited to grassy areas and non-paved surfaced. Sleet is most likely to hit the region from early to mid-afternoon.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Forecasters_warn_of_snow_sleet_in_Philadelphia_area.html#jEj9TFFifJJzifdS.99

Sanchez Shows What He Can Do

ARLINGTON, Texas - You don’t ever forget something like the Butt Fumble. Even if you tried, there’s always going to be an annoying sports writer, probably one from New York, who’s going to come up to you and remind you about it.

“It sucked,” Mark Sanchez said. “I ran into some guy’s butt and dropped the ball on the turf and they scored. I don’t know if it gets [any worse than that]. This is like my favorite holiday, so that’s not cool. It was really a bummer.”

That was two Thanksgivings ago, when Sanchez’s career was unraveling with the Jets. The Butt Fumble looked like it might be the poor guy’s legacy. They wouldn’t remember the two AFC Championship Games he started. They would only remember the Butt Fumble.

But that was before Nick Foles got hurt and Sanchez got a second chance to jump-start his career. That was before last night when he went out on the Thanksgiving Day national stage again and claimed redemption.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20141128_Sanchez_shows_what_he_can_do.html#24br7u37uQM5OrS0.99

Casino Also-Rans Leave Big Question Marks In City’s Landscape

The Philadelphia Inquirer-Daily News Building ...

The Philadelphia Inquirer-Daily News Building in Philadelphia, PA. Taken from North Broad and Callowhill Streets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Held hostage for a year by hope that they might snag a casino license, two pieces of prime central Philadelphia real estate lost that gamble this week – but may yet cash in, as all eyes await Plan B for both locations in a hot downtown market.

Developers who had proposed casinos at Eighth and Market Streets and the former Inquirer Building at Broad and Callowhill Streets said they had no alternate plans after learning Tuesday that the city’s second gaming license would instead go to a site near the sports arenas in South Philadelphia.

But with new apartment and retail development deals being inked virtually every week in and around Center City without public subsidy, it should not be long before new plans are hatched for both, as long as property owners agree to quick action, officials and market watchers said.

One top city official said market conditions were so favorable to development that the Nutter administration would have little patience if movement were not swift at one of the locations, which has remained inert for two decades as repeated plans have fizzled: the open-air lot at Eighth and Market owned by Ken Goldenberg and other investors.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20141122_Casino_also-rans_leave_big_question_marks_in_city_s_landscape.html#FiqqgVTmwOSW0RAU.99

Update: Philadelphia Area Restaurant Openings

To update the crop of projected restaurant openings over the next eight weeks or so:

Mere hours old is The Crazy Sofa, a sushi/small plater, next to the Regal theater in Newtown Square (the former Roux 3).

Any day now, Collingswood will see the debut of Local Market and Cafe (714 Haddon Ave.), which will sell foods to go or eat-in and will have a coffee bar, deli, butcher, bakery and grocery sections.

Friday, Nov. 21 is day one for Latin Flavor, a Caribbean cafeteria at 627 South St.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/the-insider/Update-Restaurant-openings.html#kJeUoftlBK7KtdFG.99

Killings, Shootings, Crashes Mark Violent Weekend In Philadelphia Area

The weekend in the Philadelphia region was marked by a series of violent incidents, including shootings and car crashes that have left at least eight people dead since Friday night.

The deaths include two fatal shootings in Camden and three in Philadelphia, as well as two deadly traffic accidents in South Jersey and one in Bensalem.

Other violent incidents also added to the weekend mayhem, including the shooting of a Temple University student, two double shootings and a robber who threatened to give his victim AIDS.

In Camden, authorities are investigating two deadly shootings that occurred hours apart Sunday morning.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Killings_shootings_crashes_mark_violent_weekend_in_Philadelphia_area.html#0hUiZaOfGhfvm0Iv.99