Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, Philadelphia!

Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day Parade is considered the oldest one in the country, now in its 94th year. So turn on 6ABC, grab some coffee, and start gearing up for football today with a long-celebrated, local tradition.

Enjoy the day, everyone!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Manayunk's canal/towpath is looking for an upgrade

Cool shot of the Manayunk Canal | Manayunk, Philadelphia

The goal, to make the entire canal/towpath area more recreation, entertainment, and retail-friendly.

Don't get me wrong, the Manayunk towpath recently underwent an upgrade at it's western end (past the Green Lane Bridge). Murals have been painted, plantings have been tended to, cleanings are consistently scheduled, and the path itself was re-paved/re-graveled. It was a nice upgrade for all who use it.

I went for a few runs down there this past summer, and it was pretty awesome; especially when you're close to the Flat Rock Dam.

Flat Rock Dam

If you've never walked/ran/biked down this way, I highly recommend checking it out. Parking is easy on Nixon St (where Shawmont Ave dead ends), and you can also catch the Schuylkill River Trail from this spot. Connecting the towpath and the SRT was also part of that project.

So, back to the canal/towpath plans.

The next area of focus is the canal "boardwalk," which basically runs from Green Ln to Lock St (by the Manayunk Brewery, aka The Brew Pub). This section of the canal was overhauled close to 40 years ago, and it's still in constant use today; but it could use a sprucing-up. The planning that's going on now is for improvement along this corridor.

Kay Sykora, Director of the Schuylkill Project, has stated, "We feel that there is an opportunity for the canal boardwalk area to be a great public space. It will move the boardwalk into a more central position and present an opportunity for it to be a connector both up to the commercial district and up into the neighborhood."

Right on, Kay!

Manayunk is a busy commercial strip, it has charm that most other cities/towns strive for, and it has an abundance of water (both from the canal and Schuylkill River). Water is what brings people to places like Manayunk, so naturally it should be utilized to its fullest potential.

On Venice Island, a strip of land that was created when the canal was built (back in the early 1800s), there are already some significant projects taking place. A 3 million gallon stormwater storage tank is being installed (to help with flooding during big storms), a new playground is being built, and a performing arts center is being put up as well; everything is expected to be completed by 2014.

In the next few months, another project will break ground that will return flowing water back to the Manayunk canal; financing has already been secured/approved.

The goal for the upcoming planning/project is to make use of an existing asset. Think destinations like San Antonio's RiverWalk, or the canals of Amsterdam. These cities have utilized their waterways as a place for recreation, entertainment, and retail activity.

Main Street already has strong bones along Manayunk's commercial corridor, but more could be done around back to make it world-class.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Zillow posts their "10 Good Reasons to Move to Philadelphia"

Benjamin Franklin Parkway | Philadelphia, PA

... And they're actually well-thought-out reasons.

Obviously, all of you regular readers out there already know that I love Philadelphia. For those who are not regular readers, all you need to do is go through some of my past blog posts.

It's where I was born (Well, in Abington; so technically, 3 miles outside of city limits), it's where I went to school (Go Explorers), it's where I live (What's up, Roxborough), and it's where I will be managing my first, local real estate office in the coming months ahead (again; What's up, Roxborough).

But hey, because I have love for the City of Brotherly Love, my opinion can sometimes be considered biased; it's cool. What I have done in the past with my blog, and what I continue to do today, is try to provide insightful information about Philadelphia (and its surrounding area) through local news, as well as through national/international news.

It helps keep things interesting, and takes some of the biases out.

Zillow recently published an article about Philadelphia, on Bloomberg.com, and they did a really nice job. Not only does it start out by saying what locals already know, "If you’ve seen the Liberty Bell and had a cheesesteak, you’ve likely spent a day in Philadelphia; but beyond the tourist sites and skyscrapers lies a city of neighborhoods undergoing a cultural renaissance," but it really goes into some decent detail regarding why each one of the "10 Good Reasons" is true.

I would not be sharing this article, and blogging about it, if I didn't agree with their logic myself.

Local Philadelphian Kristen Hampton was quoted as saying, "Neighborhoods and the communities they foster are still highly valued, and neighbors look out for each other. Also, this is a city full of history, cultural richness, and some of the best food you’ll ever taste.” That statement could not be any more true.

Nice job, Kristen!

It's a great article, and some well-deserved praise for Philly; enjoy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cira Centre South is finally taking shape with FMC Tower

Cira Centre South - 2016

If it was said that I haven't wrote enough about University City over the past few years, it would be an understatement.

Well, here is some more cool news for UCity.

After much hype and debate over the last few years, coupled with a slowdown in high-rise commercial development across the city, Brandywine is now set to break ground on FMC Tower (aka FMC Tower at Cire Centre South). This will be the end cap to the Cira Centre development in University City, Philadelphia.

Here are the details:

- 650 feet tall, or 47 stories tall
- Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli (who also designed UCity's Cira Centre, next to 30th Street Station)
- Almost 1,000,000 sq ft of usable space (with over 60% already pre-leased to FMC & UPenn)
- FMC will have a skybridge connected to Cira Green (a new, 1-acre park on top of a parking garage)

All I can say is, awesome!

Not only for the fact that another cool, architecturally pleasing building will join the likes of Cira Centre and the upcoming Evo at Cira Centre South (formerly known as The Grove), but because another large company is putting their Global HQ in Philadelphia, while joining the likes of UPenn (Philadelphia's largest, private employer). This type of development further justifies UCity's place as Philadelphia's 2nd leading center for jobs/entertainment.

All good stuff.

A few other things that make this project cool, IMHO:

- It's Mixed-Use: FMC Tower will house FMC, UPenn, and rental housing; 3 different uses (commercial, educational, and residential), 1 building. These tenants will all be on top of the future tenants taking space in the building.

- It's Green: FMC Tower is shooting for LEED Silver Certification, with the plan of adding a 1-acre park on top of a parking garage. This will help with stormwater management, as well as provide a new park for Philadelphians to enjoy. Also, the views will be nothing short of spectacular.

- It's Smart: The design is great, it's right next to 30th Street Station, it still has the option to comfortably park your car (for both travelers and suburbanites alike), and it's building on UCity's current momentum as a global city-within-a-city.

For further reading, check out these other helpful links:

All The Renderings: Cira Centre South's Final Tower

650 Foot Tall Monster Building Coming to West Philly

Many More Details About the Skyscraping FMC Tower

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How do most Philadelphians get to work everyday?


Car?

Bus?

Train?

Subway?

Walk ... Run ... Bike?

The answer to this question is public transportation.

To put things into perspective, a recent study by the Center City District (CCD) and Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) revealed that an astonishing 70% of Philadelphians use public transportation to commute to work. This includes all forms (e.g. bus, train, subway, etc).

Wow, 70%! That's crazy high.

What does this mean, and why am I blogging about it?

It means that not only has the overall mindset among those living in Philadelphia changed from car-centric to commuter-friendly, but it also forces developers to start thinking differently about their current and future projects. Which in turn, changes the way development is ultimately decided upon across the entire Philadelphia region.

As PlanPhilly notes, 2 local developers were interviewed in this article. They both agree that access to public transportation is a key component during the development planning process.

And it should be.

If 7 out of 10 people already need public transportation to continue their current job commute, why would you build something that does not give them the option to access it easily? Since this trend doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon, it's only going to become more important in the years to come.

Please also understand that this type of thinking has large real estate implications as well. If 70% of Philadelphians prefer to use public transportation over a car, it will have an impact on home values as well. To be honest, it already does today in some parts of the city; including the neighborhood I call home (Manayunk/Roxborough). Most Manayunk/Roxborough buyers/renters, that I work with today, inquire upfront about their potential public transportation options for each home we view.

My guess is that this post will spawn future posts about public transportation and real estate, but for now, please enjoy a brief introduction to this change in preference.