The First-Ever Urban Earthship Is Being Built In West Philly

There’s a vacant lot at 675 N. 41st Street in West Philadelphia that’s about to become something Philadelphia has never seen before–an Earthship.

When Thomas L. Miller, the owner of a vacant lot in West Philadelphia, heard a woman on the radio talking about her plan to build an “Earthship” in August of 2013, he was quick to call the radio station and donate his lot to her. The woman was Rashida Ali-Campbell, founder of Yeadon-based nonprofit LoveLovingLove, Inc.

The Earthship, which is in development now at 675 N. 41st Street, will act as a Philadelphia branch for LoveLovingLove, Inc, whose mission is to heal impoverished communities with holistic health education. It also hosts programs like Operation Olive Branch, an annual award that recognizes local law enforcement districts with the lowest complaint rates. In its new Earthship office, the organization will hold healthy-living workshops for those coping with diabetes and high blood pressure.

“We want to bring holistic health information and activities to the community through workshops, holding free events on the land, and having workshops for people to learn how to build an Earthship themselves,” Ali-Campbell said, “So that other people who have the desire to build can grab up some of these 40,000 vacant lots and turn them into something beautiful and sustainable.”

Read more:

http://earthship.com/blogs/2015/01/first-ever-urban-earthship-built-west-philly/

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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

Civil-Rights Lawsuits Against Philadelphia Police Spiked In 2013

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

ON A WARM night in Overbrook, Askia Sabur spotted his cousin outside a Chinese takeout and pedaled his bicycle over to chat.

Within minutes, Sabur lay bleeding and barely conscious on the sidewalk, as a crowd of cops – several with long histories of brutality complaints – beat him, opening gashes on his head that would require six staples to close.

In West Philadelphia, Stephen Moore was watching TV alone in his bedroom when his home-security system announced his front door was open.

Moore went to investigate, only to be pumped full of lead by a cop who started firing after entering the house without saying a word.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140529_Civil-rights_lawsuits_against_police_spiked_in_2013.html#Z2gTxwAxgpOQ9olL.9

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Two Students Shot At Logan Charter School

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Two 15-year-old students were wounded Friday afternoon in what may have been an accidental shooting inside a charter high school in Logan, Philadelphia police said.

One of the victims, a girl who was shot through the arm, was treated at Einstein Medical Center, just blocks away from Delaware Valley Charter High School, where the shooting occurred. She was released from the hospital later in the day.

The second victim, her boyfriend, was struck by the same bullet, which lodged in his shoulder, police said. He remained at the hospital Friday night.

The shooting, which sent parents scrambling to find out if their children were safe, came two days after a 17-year-old boy was arrested for bringing a loaded handgun to a West Philadelphia charter school.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20140118_Breaking__Two_students_shot_at_charter_school.html#EzOvRdAkfh5CfyY1.99

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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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Changing Skyline: For A West Schuylkill Site, Time To Bridge Its Moat

English: 30th Street Station In Philadelphia. ...

English: 30th Street Station In Philadelphia. Roughly speaking, the center of commuting in Philly, the former center of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Philly’s main Amtrak station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  There are some really exciting projects going on in Philadelphia as of late.

To hear the champions of Philadelphia’s university district tell it, the west bank of the Schuylkill is poised to give Center City’s skyline a run for its money.

Last week, Brandywine Realty Trust announced plans for its third riverfront skyscraper, a sharply faceted, 47-story office-and-apartment tower at 30th and Walnut Streets. West Philadelphia office space now commands higher rents than the aging behemoths in the city’s legacy downtown. Such is the clamor to live close to the big campuses that at least five residential high-rises are in the works.

It’s nice to see the city’s skyline stretching west. But a clutch of shimmering skyscrapers do not a neighborhood make.

Overlooked in all the hoopla over Brandywine’s latest project, FMC Tower at Cira Centre South, are the conditions on the ground. The site is cut off from the Schuylkill waterfront by a large, triangular moat, which looks down on the train tracks that feed into 30th Street Station and is one of several barriers that make walking there an unpleasant, and often hair-raising, experience.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20131108_Changing_Skyline__For_a_West_Schuylkill__time_to_bridge_its_moat.html#4677tKeG0ScuYbfb.99

Town By Town: Haddington, A Growing Area In West Philadelphia

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

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

There was a time 60th Street in Haddington was called “Real Estate Row,” because of the 22 realty offices that lined both sides of the thoroughfare.

Given the changing fortunes of the housing market, that time has past in many places, not just this nearly one-mile-square chunk of West Philadelphia hugging the Market-Frankford El – which, not surprisingly, was the catalyst for the neighborhood’s birth in 1903 and subsequent growth.

Sandidge & Co., at 40 N. 60th St., is the lone survivor on Real Estate Row, and after 50 years in business, broker E. Paul Sandidge remains “the authority” on real estate in the neighborhood, says Terry Guerra, director of special projects for the nonprofit ACHIEVEability, which has its headquarters in Haddington.

ACHIEVEability owns more than 200 properties throughout Haddington and Cobbs Creek, where its clients live while they complete two- and four-year academic programs to become nurses, social workers, teachers, and computer specialists.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/town-by-town/20130505_Town_By_Town__Haddington__a_growing_area_in_W__Phila_.html

PhillyInc: Merger Of Real Estate Firms Tied To Life Sciences May Give West Philadelphia Area A Boost

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

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

For 50 years, the University City Science Center has been where scientists and start-ups have toiled to build the next generation of Philadelphia-area companies.

But to hear science center president and CEO Stephen S. Tang, what would really help nurture that entrepreneurial soup would be if a big life-sciences company were to put its headquarters or research operations in West Philadelphia.

Given that several of the biggest drug companies locally have already made long-term commitments elsewhere, there is nothing on the horizon presently.  But a merger between two real estate firms that focus on life-sciences properties may aid Tang’s quest.

Late last month, BioMed Realty Trust Inc. said it would acquire Wexford Science & Technology L.L.C. in a $640 million transaction.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/columnists/20130408_PhillyInc__Merger_of_real_estate_firms_tied_to_life_sciences_may_give_West_Philadelphia_area_a_boost.html#ixzz2PsybwX00 
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Officials Working To Restore Rail Passenger Service To Philly Zoo

Editor’s note:  That just makes sense!

After 100 years of watching trains pass without stopping, Philadelphia Zoo officials are trying to restore passenger rail service to the zoo.

A new study proposes a SEPTA station at 34th Street and Mantua Avenue, a short walk from the zoo’s south entrance.

Although the zoo was built on its West Philadelphia site in 1874 partly because of handy rail access, the original Zoological Garden station at 34th Street and Girard Avenue closed in 1902, a victim of Pennsylvania Railroad expansion.

Now, congested highway access and limited parking have convinced zoo leaders that a new train station would increase attendance and ease traffic.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130402_Officials_working_to_restore_rail_passenger_service_to_Philly_Zoo.html

The Guys Behind West Philly’s New High Rise

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)

The $158 million, 33-story Grove high-rise, planned for 850 Penn and Drexel students, adjoining the two campuses on a Penn-owned property at 2930 Chestnut St. in Brandywine Realty Trust‘s Cira South development, will stand out among East Coast college housing projects.

For one thing, it’s taller. Boston University boasts a landmark 26-story dorm with spectacular views.  New York University cancelled plans for a 38-story tower after Greenwich Village neighbors and architect I.M. Pei protested.  Penn’s three 25-story undergrad dorms have anchored “Superblock” (“an architectual conceptual disaster,” according to this 1999 Pa. Gazette review) on the west end of campus since the 1970s.  Temple’s new Morgan Hall dominates the view to Center City from 21 stories above North Philly.

Also, like other Penn student housing projects in recent years, Grove is a private effort, though on a bigger scale: It will boast its own health club and pool, Internet and cable, and rents starting above $1,300/month for a single (there’ll also be suites with up to three bedrooms.)

The project’s backers hope it will reverse the long flow of graduate students into West Philly‘s mixed residential neighborhoods and booming Center City and slowing growth to the student ghetto locally dominated by outfits like Michael Karp’s University City Housing Corp. and David Adelman’s more upscale Campus Apartments (home of the Beige Blocks).

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/The-guys-behind-West-Phillys-new-high-rise.html

Kill-adelphia: City Tops List Of Homicide Rates

Philadelphia skyline sunset

Image via Wikipedia

Murders are up again this year in Philadelphia, and the city still has the highest homicide rate of the nation’s 10 most populous cities, according to stats provided by each city’s police department. At the same time, fewer murders are getting solved.

With a few days left in the year, the city’s homicide tally stood at 324 Wednesday, including the eight victims allegedly killed in previous years by West Philly abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Last year, 306 people were killed, and the year before, 302.

But despite the jump in homicides this year, city officials prefer to focus on the past. When they compare numbers, they go back to 2007, when murders in Philly were at the five-year high of 392. Looking at it that way, they get a 17 percent decrease in the murder rate from 2007 to 2011.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20111230_Kill-adelphia__Yet_again__city_tops_list_of_homicide_rates.html?cmpid=124488459