Times Square In Philadelphia?

The Gallery and Market East are in need of a desperate facelift.  Developers and City Council seam to believe that large animated digital advertisements is exactly what the district needs.  A city council bill has been proposed that would create a commercial advertising district on Market, between 7th and 13th Streets.  The lighting, supporters say will draw tourists and convention goers to a new entertainment zone near the Gallery shopping mall.  Developers want invigorate Market East, envisioning it full of themed restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and movie theaters.  There is also talk of bringing in upscale "big-box retail stores" to draw Center City residents who now drive to South Philadelphia for their general household shopping, says Carl Primavera, and attorney who represents billboard companies.  In its current state Market East is underwhelming and underdeveloped, lacking the vitality that will entice conventioneers and tourists.

On the contrary opponents see this bill as a disaster.  They believe a potentially majestic and charming district will be totally stigmatized with chunky bill-boards and bright lights.  Philadelphia is not a second rate city and shouldn't result to desperate measures of imposing a false identity already branded by its big brother just 100 miles up north.  Philadelphia's brand has always been history, preservation and the arts.  That is why people visit this city.  As planners, preservationists, and developers who have an invested interest in the future of Philadelphia, we should be looking at innovative and exciting unique ways to enhance our city while still preserving and staying true to its identity, not settling for easy-fix, temporary, dated and potentially disastrous solutions just to make a quick buck.  When Philadelphia gets these rare opportunities to rebrand itself and make a statement to the world that we are a first class city with a lot of great personality, we settle for mediocre. We need to recognize the treasures we already have and enhance and celebrate them, not cover them up or taint them with false illusions.

When people visit Philadelphia they are looking for what makes Philadelphia different from any other city.  They ask themselves what is so special about Philadelphia that they can say to their family and friends at home, "You must go to Philadelphia to experience this!"  If we continue to borrow experiences instead of creating our own, we will continue to loose our credibility as a first class destination.  Lets run with the momentum of Green in 2015 and set our sights on becoming a global destination by 2035 with creative bold ideas that bridge commerce, history, entertainment, leisure, accessibility, education and livability.

Also check out "Bright Lights Big Mistake?"at Philly.com


Revamping South Delaware Waterfront

Despite future plans for a Foxwoods Casino at its proposed site at Columbus Boulevard and Reed Street, planners for the Delaware River waterfront imagine far greater potential for this section of the river.  With the bad press and out of control crime at the recently opened Sugarhouse Casino farther north up river, there is no wonder planners are looking past the casino option and envisioning a more communal, economic, and culturally balanced approach.  With a casino out of the way, the neighborhood would be more residential friendly welcoming future hotel options and retail.  The neighborhood would have great potential for being a destination place to live, work, and rest while visiting the city and sports arenas. Future light rail transportation connection from Port Richmond and Market Street to Oregon Ave, the Sports complex, and the Navy Yard will make the waterfront and its neighborhoods a viable and convenient place to live.

Planners imagine a restored wetland park based on the deteriorated piers from 53 to 70 with nesting platforms for osprey and eagles.  The area currently hosting Walmart and Home Depot will continue to host the big box stores, but will shrink to a more urban-friendly vertical form, with stores fronting Columbus Boulevard and underground parking or a well designed parking garage.  The freed land can allow streets to extend across the boulevard and host new residential developments creating a balance of residences, retail, and industry.  Neighboring retailers can follow suite with Target, Lowes, IKEA, and Best Buy also going vertical, stacking their facilities freeing up land for new development.  These solutions expand the lifespan of these large retailers creating healthy communities and a consistent supply of customers.

Downtown Dadeland near Miami


Fishtown: One Of America's Most Fuel Efficient Neighborhoods

Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood, located along the Delaware River has been listed as one of America's most fuel efficient neighborhoods according to a Forbes.com study.  With centrally located residences from hip lofts in converted warehouses hosting the next generation of artist, graphic designers, and entrepreneurs, to freshly renovated town homes and New Construction.  There's no wonder why the neighborhood is a magnet for young fast paste yuppie and hipsters commuting to Center City and Temple University.  Transportation cost are the second-lowest among neighborhoods in the 10 largest metropolitan neighborhoods.  Public transit ridership is at around 12%, with short commutes to Old City,Center City and close by Northern Liberties.