Philly Bike Share

The City of Philadelphia is scheduled to roll out its new bike sharing program some time in late summer of 2014. The network will work similar to systems in cities from Washington, New York, toronto, London, and Paris.  It will comprise of 150 to 200 bike share stations.  The city will locate 1,500 to 2,000 bicycles available for short-term rental.  the rental system is structured in a way that allows for a bike to be picked up from one station and returned to any other station, given there is space.  The idea is that people will be able to use the bikes to commute, run an errand, tour the city or get some exercise.

According to PlanPhilly Mayor Nutter has already committed $3 million in capital budget funding toward bike share, and those leading the endeavor expect building the bike share network to cost $10 million to $15 million.  the remaining funding is expected to come from state and federal transportation grants as well as some private funds.  Once the system is up and running it is expected to be self sufficient and will not require any public operating subsidy.  Philadelphia's bike share is projected to generate nearly 2 million trips per year with residents, commuters, students and visitors taking part.  Thousands of users are expected each day.  The stations will be located throughout the city from the Delaware River west into West Philly and from The Navy Yard north beyond Temple University's main campus.


Wynn Casinos Surprising Community Support

Members of the Olde Richmond Civic Association overwhelmingly in a 191-20 voted voiced their support for the proposed Wynn Resorts riverfront casino at 2055 Richmond Street.  Wynn likely appealed to the desire of the neighborhood to create a brand for itsELf while also offering beautiful public space, and unadulterated views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

In addition to 2,500 slot machines and 100 game tables, the resort will contain luxurious hotel suites, spa, restaurants, a 30,000-square foot nightclub, green space that includes a dog park, ice cream stand, skating rink and other features.  The $900 million Wynn Philadelphia casino would be the largest private development min the history of Pennsylvania.


1919 Market Update

Today the Zoning Board of Adjustment met to consider granting two variances and one special exception to Brandywine Realty Trust for their proposed residential tower at 1919 Market street.

The proposed 29-story tower sits on an empty lot at 20th and Market streets.  The lot was cleared decades ago to make way for a twin tower to the blue Cross Tower.  The 351 foot tower will contain 278 residential units with retail space on the ground floor, and a 223-space parking garage constructed above ground at the rear of the property.

The Developers need two variances in order to move forward with the project.  The first is one for the width of the side yard on 20th Street and for a curb cut providing access into the parking garage.  They will need a special exception for above-ground parking in the CMX-5 zoning district.  To prevent its granting, objectors would have to prove that the use would be detrimental to the neighborhood beyond what might normally be expected from such a use.  The developers were also asked to explain the cost difference in putting the parking garage undergroundverses above-ground.


Ridge Flats Gets "Green Light"

Ridge Flats finally received a green light by the Zoning Board of Adjustments last Wednesday Afternoon.  The 146-unit apartment complex at 4300 Ridge Avenue in East falls will contain some retail space on the ground floor, as well as 120 above-grade parking spaces.  parking is kept  above ground due to the property's location in the 100 year floodplain.

Although under the East falls zoning overlay, the project requires 695 parking spaces – four spots for every 1,000 feet of commercial space, no one, including the East Falls Development Corporation thinks that amount is necessary.  The developer said the retail uses will be community-based and geared toward pedestrians.

The building will be the largest "passive house" in the country.  Onion Flats' Tim McDonald explains that in passive houses, energy usage can be reduced by as much as 90 percent just by the way the "thermal envelope' is designed.

The one- and two- bedroom apartments at Ridge Flats will likely range in price from $1,300 to $2,000 a month.  The developers plan to pull permits and begin construction next spring.


Franklin Square Capital Moves To Navy Yard

Philly Bizjournal reports on the future move from the Cira Center to the Navy Yard by Franklin Square Capital Partners.  Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners will construct a new four-story, 80,050-square-foot building for the firm.

Franklin Square signed a long-term lease for the entire building, located on about 4 acres next to the Courtyard by Marriott that is currently under construction at 201 Rouse Boulevard. "We are excited to keep our headquarters in Philadelphia and to join the growing community at the Navy Yard," said Michael Forman, founder and CEo of Franklin Square.

The new headquarters will have views of both the new park and Philadelphia's skyline, a café-style restaurant, a multi-use exercise facility, conference facilities, and floor plans full of natural light and designed to foster team interaction.  Liberty and Synterra expect to begin construction next month and complete the building in the first quarter of 2015.

The Parkway; How Should We Plan For Its Future?

An ongoing discussion continues on in an article in The Wall Street Journal, "Rethinking Philadelphia's Boulevard of Broken Dreams".  The article addresses past, present, and future dreams, plans and changes to the parkway and questions "What is the best way to move forward?".

Paul Levy, president and CEO of Philadelphia's Center City District reflects on his past attempt to re-imagine the city's grand diagonal boulevard as a higher-density urban space.  An unsuccessful attempt, however from that, the re-pedestrianizing of the parkway caught on.  The current plan by Harris Steinberg, founding executive director of PennPraxis, considers how to connect the boulevard into the life of the city.  Dubbed "More Park, Less Way",  the plan focuses on turning four parcels of underutilized open space into lively neighborhood parks with amenities such as yoga, volleyball, chess boards, food kiosks and cultural programming.  The aim is to make the parkway as enticing a destination for city residents and tourists.

The formerly inhospitable roadway now has bike lanes and crosswalks, renovated sidewalks and benches, nighttime illumination, new parks and cafés, better signage, a restored Rodin Museum and Logan Circle, Sister Cities Park, and the move of the Barnes Foundation's gallery to the parkway.  Soon there will be a Mormon Temple at 17th and Vive streets and a hotel to occupy the Family Court building.

The question that remains now after its been cleaned up is "What do we want it to be?" says Michael DiBerardinis, the city's deputy mayor for environmental and community resources and commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation.  As Philadelphia continues to work toward being America's Next Great City, it's grandest boulevard for sure must stand well against any of its counterparts around the world.  Read more at WSJ.com