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Want to help protect historic buildings? Come to Historic Preservation Task Force meeting in West Philadelphia

January 17, 2018

Over the past few years, we’ve lost a number of historic buildings in West Philadelphia, from churches to old Victorian homes and mansions to new construction. There have been a few meetings in the area in the past year on how residents who care about protecting historic buildings and sites can get involved with the work of such organizations as Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and University City Historical Society.

On Thursday, Jan. 18, residents are invited to learn more about the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Task Force, which was created by Mayor Jim Kenney in May 2017. The meeting will take place at the Enterprise Center (4548 Market St) beginning at 6:30 p.m.  Continue Reading

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Kenney clarifies timeline for 4601 Market St.

November 15, 2017

Mayor Jim Kenney told the audience gathered for the Spruce Hill Community Association annual meeting last night that the city would likely to have a handful of serious proposals for the old Provident Mutual Insurance building at 4601 Market St. by early January.

His administration cancelled plans in May to move the police headquarters to the building, opting instead for the old Philadelphia Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St. Those plans were devised during the administration of Michael Nutter.

The city has received several requests for quotation (RFQ) on the property. These are narrative proposals of what would be done with the property. Those proposals range from commercial and retail to medical and educational. All propose a mix of uses for the property. Kenney said the RFQs are private and he could not provide specific details on any of them.  Continue Reading

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UCD’s annual report shows more millennials, more apartments, higher rents and home prices in last year

November 10, 2017

The University City District released its annual “State of University City” report on Thursday night. It shows what most of us already know: home prices are up; new retail spots are opening left and right; and the population is growing and getting younger.

UCD roughly defines “University City” as the area bounded by the Schuylkill River to the east, 50th Street to the west, Market Street/Powelton Avenue/Spring Garden Street to the north and Woodland Avenue/University Avenue to the south.

Here’s what the report, which covers trends through 2016, shows in key areas:

Real Estate Development

During 2016, 28 projects were either completed or made significant strides toward completion. These include academic, commercial, medical and residential projects. Curbed Philly has a handy map with many of the new projects covered in the report.  Continue Reading

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People’s Emergency Center celebrates 25 years of community development

October 18, 2017

Though its Friday celebration will include a life-sized West Philly-themed board game, the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) knows their work is dead serious. Created 25 years ago, the group’s Community Development Corporation (CDC) has worked to ensure that the neighborhood’s ongoing transformation creates far more beneficiaries than victims. Now, at an outdoor party on 4050 Haverford Avenue, the CDC will mark what it believes has been a successful quarter-century.

“The history… It’s tremendous. It’s not easy doing this work,” said James Wright, PEC’s Director of Community Economic and Real Estate Development.

Wright says that PEC has helped catalyze an economic turnaround in the five neighborhoods it focuses on: Saunders Park, West Powelton, Belmont, Mantua, and Mill Creek. Vacancy has plummeted while incomes and high-school graduation rates have risen, and the group said home values quadrupled between 2000 and 2013. PEC has contributed to this upswing by converting vacant lots into housing; eliminating vacancy tends to increase surrounding home values.  Continue Reading

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“Broken Chains” mural at 52nd and Larchwood to be removed; Provide feedback for new mural’s design this Thursday

April 11, 2017

The “Broken Chains” mural at 52nd and Larchwood will be removed due to a new construction project.

Murals are an important part of Philadelphia history and cultural legacy, so it’s a big deal for many residents to hear that a mural in their neighborhood has to be removed. We learned that the “Broken Chains” mural at 52nd and Larchwood can’t be saved due to a new construction project. Understanding the mural’s importance to the community, the project developer, West Philly-based real estate and development firm Spak Group, has offered to fund a new mural at the same location after the construction project is completed.

The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and artists KC White and Gabe Tiberino have been engaged to work on the new mural, and community members are invited this Thursday (April 13) to join the conversation and help inform the design of the mural that will celebrate Black History and empowerment. The meeting will take place at Philadelphia Student Union (501 S. 52nd St.), beginning at 6:30 p.m., and light refreshments will be served.  Continue Reading

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City’s highest rents are in University City, according to reports

April 6, 2017

Rents in the city continue to grow, and University City is one of Philadelphia’s most expensive areas to rent in, according to recent reports. In its last month’s report based on the data from real estate company Zumper, Philly.com writes that the average one-bedroom rental is $1,800 per month in the area, making it the second most expensive neighborhood in the city (Logan Circle is first). This is a 14 percent increase from February 2016.

However, it’s important to clarify that the report defines University City as the area between 40th Street west to the Schuylkill River east, which includes the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University campuses where some of the city’s most expensive high-rise apartment buildings were built over the last few years.  Continue Reading

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