Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


aka Happy "Start-of-Philadelphia's-Summer-Season" Weekend!

Memorial Day Weekend is an important holiday weekend for the entire US. For the warmer parts, it's a 3 day weekend right before the start of summer; so it's not "as hot" yet. For the colder parts, it's a 3 day weekend that signifies summer is on its way; even though it may not be that warm yet.

For the Philadelphia area, which has a temperate climate (or technically referred to as Zone 3), it's the official start of summer. April and May bring warmth, rain, and lots of greenery. By the end of May, the cold is pretty much behind us and we can look forward to consistently warmer weather for the next 4-5 months.

What's also special about MDW in Philadelphia, is that it kicks off the summer season at the Jersey Shore (despite the damage that Sandy caused). Not the Jersey Shore you've seen on TV (aka Seaside Heights). I'm talking about the South Jersey Shore, which unofficially goes from Atlantic City to Cape May.

That is "Philadelphia's Jersey Shore," and that's also where most locals vacation from May until September.

If you happen to have your laptop (or tablet) with you this weekend, here are some good articles to read while you are boating, sunbathing, or just grabbing some drinks by the bay.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Philly Urban Living's "Light-Reading List" for MDW:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Philadelphia has been recognized as one of the "10 Most Exciting Cities in America"

LOVE Park, Philadelphia

I've never seen this poll/ranking category before (brought to you by Movoto.com), but it looks to be pretty legit. Not in its title so much, but in its methodology.

And I'm not being biased because Philly made the list ... just sayin'.

If you scroll to the bottom of the article, it clearly maps out what categories they chose for the US' biggest cities, and what makes them exciting (or not). Most of the time with rankings, you really don't know what criteria is being used to do so; you just see the title.

Here, you do; which helps with legitimacy, IMHO.

Philadelphia has been getting a lot of good press lately (as you have probably seen from my past posts), and here's just another example of how the city as a whole is improving its image: locally, nationally, and internationally. Not only that, Philadelphia is improving on its functionality as a thriving, diverse, and exciting city.

Read on to learn more about our latest accolade.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sales are up, prices are up, and supply is down

Click to Enlarge

As you can see from the above graph, real estate is picking up in Philadelphia.

Not only are prices rising, but the biggest highlight is that supply is down ... drastically (for both Total Homes For Sale and Months of Supply). Very good signs that things are improving from 1 year ago, and that the market is shifting from a "Buyer's Market" to a "Seller's Market."

Positive news for Philadelphians.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Philly Good Food Lab is coming to North Philadelphia


It looks like the coworking concept has now made its way to the local food industry in Philadelphia, as Common Market introduces Philly Good Food Lab.

If you're unfamiliar, here is Common Market's purpose: "We are a mission-driven distributor of local foods to the Mid-Atlantic region. Our mission is to strengthen regional farms while making the local bounty accessible to communities and the institutions that serve them. We provide the infrastructure to connect public and private schools, hospitals, universities, grocery stores and workplaces to good food grown by our region’s sustainable farmers."

To be honest, I have not heard much about them until now; but they're doing some cool things. Not only have they created a new business niche, but they are reusing old warehouse space in North Philadelphia.

Brilliant!

Okay, back to Philly Good Food Lab. The goal for PGFL is to bring like-minded food entrepreneurs and food companies together under one roof so that they can feed off of each other daily (no pun intended). By following the coworking mantra, the goal is for PGFL businesses to take advantage of a large and professionally set up space (i.e. 70,000 sq ft of space, dry and cold storage, loading docks, etc.), keep overhead low, and keep local networking high.

Sounds like an awesome plan, and I wish them the best of luck!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

CHOP marches east with 2,000,000 sq ft of new development

Aerial shot of both University City and Center City, Philadelphia

CHOP's plan to go across the river on to the "Center City Side" of the Schuylkill, has been in the works for quite some time now.

The good news is that their latest meeting was the 4th installment highlighting CHOP's plans for growth in Graduate Hospital. It will bring jobs, new commercial space, and additional green space to the neighborhood; all to a semi-industrial area that is not producing any economic output right now.

Awesome news!

Here are some of the details:

  • All new development on 9 acres of Schuylkill River waterfront
  • Over 2,000,000 sq ft of new office space (commercial, and possibly retail as well)
  • 4 phases (estimated to go from 2014/2015 - 2022)
  • Multiple buildings
  • Parking
  • Green space
  • Schuylkill River Trail extension (down to Christian St)

Wow, that's a pretty big project for Graduate Hospital, and it should help with real estate values in this already bursting-at-the-seams neighborhood.

What I really like about this project is that it will most likely become an anchor for even more growth in the neighborhoods surrounding it, such as Point Breeze and Grays Ferry. PB has already seen steady growth in its northern section (just below Washington Ave) due to the overflow of demand from G-Ho, and the need for more similar housing (rehabbed rows, and/or new construction townhomes).

Please bear in mind that G-Ho's/PB's current growth up to now has really all been due to its location (just south of Rittenhouse Square); with close access to Center City, public transportation, major highways, etc.

Grays Ferry, on the other hand, has not seen the same growth from G-Ho spillover that PB has. Probably because PB is a huge neighborhood (with lots of available housing), and can support the current demand from interested buyers and renters; GF is a little further west. But when you add another 2,000,000 sq ft of office space with high-paying, white collar jobs to G-Ho's back yard, what you will most likely get is more of the same type of housing. Hence, GF may also become a spillover neighborhood from G-Ho in the near future.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out, from the start of construction to local neighborhood support (and/or opposition). If all of the medical related, new construction office space in University City wasn't enough for CHOP already, they are now integrating their organization with Center City; which I think is great for this part of Philadelphia.

All positive news.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

University City ... meet "Drexification"

Long-term details for Drexel's "Campus Master Plan."

Back in 2009, Philadelphia Weekly did a story on the changing residential/commercial/educational scene in University City.

They called it "Penntrification."

But isn't new development, with additional retail, a good thing for Philadelphia? My answer would be yes, but this one has layers.

New development, good.

New commercial, good.

More jobs, good.

More students coming to Philadelphia for a first class education, good.

Small businesses suffering at the hands of larger corporations, bad.

Now, we can argue this subject all day, but I do believe that smaller business are typically on the losing end when larger, franchise-y businesses move in. Just look at Walmart, if you need a good, widely known example.

Again, my personal opinion.

On the flip side, I'm also a firm believer in "if it ain't broker, break it." Businesses that choose not to change, just for the sake of fearing change, typically have a hard time surviving these days. Today, the level of change needed to keep a small business healthy will vary from one to the next, but overall all small businesses should constantly be looking at ways to improve their general business model. Whether that's new sales revenue, higher customer service, or better curb appeal, having a fresh look for a small business is critical to keeping today's customer loyal. That's because the common expectation is, "What have you done for me lately?"

Drexel is now taking a page from Penn's book and planning ahead with an updated "Campus Master Plan." Most of what they are planning over the next few years seems very reasonable, and it should improve the neighborhood (i.e. new planters/benches, upgrades to existing buildings, etc).

But if Penntrification was any lesson to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexification will need to plan a little better for the long haul if they want to see their plans through; without interference.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Philly is happy! Like, "Top 10" happy.

Center City Philadelphia at dusk.

You know how you go to read the news or check your email, and an article like "10 Best Cities to Work" or "10 Best Cities to Live" catches your attention? If you're like me at all, you may say to yourself "Hmmm, I wonder if my city made that list."

Well, Philadelphia just made a good one. We were just ranked 7th for the "10 Happiest Cities for Young Professionals," according to Forbes.com.

One of my latest blog posts focused on the positive growth trend Philadelphia has been on for the last 6 years, and this article adds more optimism to that trend. It turns out that one of our largest growth groups (Young Professionals) thinks Philly is a damn good place to live and work.

In fact they're very happy about working in Philadelphia. Maybe it's our high-paying health sector, or our new found tech environment, or our trendy co-working movement that's making people talk. Either way, Philadelphia's YPs like what they are doing, even in a still-tough economy.

Once you stop to think about it, this is a very valid feather in our city's cap. When young professionals (e.g. employees with less than 10 years of experience in a full-time position) move to a new city for a job, or decide to stay and work in the city they attended college in, it's always good to know that they like where they are.

Companies in Philadelphia must be doing something right.