Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Art Appreciation 101: many of Philadelphia's treasures don't reside in museums

You’ve heard by now that Philadelphia stepped up and saved The Gross Clinic. (And how.) Well, the most poignant commentary we’ve seen about the whole ordeal comes from the Inquirer’s Art Critic, Edward Solanski, who reminds us that there’s a lot more art around than simply what you’ll find in a museum.
Museums are refuges of last resort. Art isn't made for museums, it's made to live in the world - in schools like Jefferson, churches, private homes, public buildings, even in corporate boardrooms.

Museums are like zoos that collect rare and valuable specimens that have been dislodged from the quotidian world. Works of art in museums have lost their context, an intrinsic part of their meaning and their appeal.

This is one reason why the Gross Clinic sale was so disturbing. The painting is perhaps the most illustrious exhibit in Philadelphia's museum-at-large - a collection of art, some private but much of it public, scattered about the city indoors and out. Philadelphia isn't a premier art destination simply because of its world-class museums and the nearby Barnes Foundation, but because to a remarkable degree art has become insinuated into its urban fabric.
Well played, Ed.

Make no mistake — we’re glad that The Gross Clinic will now have a much higher profile, being on view at the PMA and PAFA.

It’s just nice to be reminded that there is art all around us, everyday, that deserves appreciation as well.

Related:
The city's museum-at-large — is anyone taking notice [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Saving the Gross Clinic — a winning effort [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Fairmount Park Art Association [Official Site]

[ Photo via Flickr user Hunter Boyle ]

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas Philadelphia

Merry Christmas from South PhiladelphiaYou bet we love you back — you look hot.

Related:
You couldn't hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant

[ Photo via Flickr user podolux ]

Friday, December 22, 2006

Name a bar, help infuse G-Ho with more awesome

yellow barFoobooz brings word that the long rumored contest to name the bar coming to Gray’s Ferry Avenue at Catherine Street is actually happening.

You can now enter said contest online. It’s your chance to add to G-Ho’s ever-expanding allure.

A little background: the aspiring bar [above] is adjacent to the old Naval Asylum (which is now being converted to a gated condo community, Naval Square, by Toll Brothers) and just off St. Alban’s Street, where “Cole” lived in M. Night’s The Sixth Sense.

sixth senseSo go ahead, get creative. The Halley Joel Bar. The Mischa Barton Bar. Or, simply, Mischa Bar. Dead People. The Devil’s Booty. The Devil’s Ho. Carpetbagger’s. Sickbay. Asylum. Shit... hopefully, you can do much better.

Do us a favor: enter online but also leave your ideas in the comments — we'll help you campaign.

And, sure, naming the bar is fun and all but what we’re really looking forward to is that there is going to be a new spot to keep Grace and Sidecar company.

Because if those two bars are any indication, look for the yet-to-be-named Yellow Bar to make G-Ho proud.

Related:
Name the Yellow Bar [Official Site via Foobooz]
G-Ho in the house [Philly Skyline]

[ Photo via Flickr user lb_philly ]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Philadelphia notches much needed victory over CSX and their trains full of shit

CSX no masNot sure why, but we couldn’t help but feel a little blue recently. Probably a combination of things the holidays bearing down, the impending invasion of the crapsinos, Murderdelphia closing in on 400, Allen Iverson leaving for Denver — basically, times were tough. We were desperate for some good news.

Luckily our dejection was short lived.

After three long years, it appears that the fine folks over at Free Schuylkill River Park have finally won some frickin' hard fought freedom. CSX, a freight rail company that had vowed to cut Center City residents off from their own park if it was the last thing they ever did, finally succumbed to reason and agreed to allow pedestrian, grade-level crossings into the park at both Locust and Race Streets.

L'Chaim.
Finally, there is a tentative agreement about the crossings. While it has not yet been completely finalized, CSX has agreed to permit the installation of at-grade crossings at both Race and Locust Streets and to facilitate funding a pedestrian bridge connecting the two Schuylkill River Parks below Locust Street. CSX has also agreed to reroute its garbage-only trains. The tentative agreement is currently is in the final stages of the City's approval process.
It wasn't easy, however.
Citing safety concerns, CSX had vowed never to allow pedestrians to cross its tracks, which run parallel to Schuylkill River Park, a recreational path that runs parallel to the river on Center City's western edge.

Its trains are often parked next to the path, and pedestrians attempt to climb over or under them - a very dangerous shortcut. So CSX wanted to fence off the tracks entirely.


But that would restrict access to the park. And that was a very bad thing, given how the park had become a beloved, much-used riverfront jewel.


For nearly three years, both sides fought. A lawsuit, staged protests and testy City Council hearings ensued. And it looked like neither side would budge in a fight pitting the city against a corporate behemoth whose Florida executives didn't seem to care how their operations were impeding civic life in Philly.


A break finally came when CSX figured out that if they added a short stretch of track - just 1,000 feet - about a mile north of the park, the railroad could divert some traffic to another set of tracks, relieving congestion that caused so many cars to idle along the park.
Seriously, this is kind of a big deal. Along with public education and public transportation, green space access and similar consistently environmentally-friendly policies are going to be some of the most important infrastructure investments/enhancements that successful 21st-century cities can make.

Green Plan PhiladelphiaTha'’s why we're thrilled with City Hall for going ahead with a bold new initiative to create a blueprint for sustainable open space in Philadelphia for the decades to come.

Green Plan Philadelphia is exactly the kind of governing Philadelphia (leaders and voters) has to embrace if it ever is going to overcome its singular image as a post-industrial stopover between New York and DC.

Because, really, it already is… and it can still be so much more.

Related:
Visions of safe, at-grade crossings dance in their heads [Free Schuylkill River Park]
Good call CSX — no flaming bags of poo for you this year [Daily News]
Green Plan Philadelphia: if it's not green, it's crap [Green Plan Philadelphia]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Homebuying for Hipsters comes to Philadelphia

Unlike the Homebuying for Hipsters seminar in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) that made a few headlines back in October, the one we just heard about — which is coming to Philadelphia next month — isn’t actually called "Homebuying for Hipsters."

But it is a homeownership workshop targeting renters and potential first-time homebuyers and it is located in Northern Liberties… so we connected the dots.

Geographical stereotypes aside, it's actually great to see realtors wanting to host events like this in Philly. (And in Northern Liberties, no less.) Despite what you may have heard, Philadelphia’s residential real estate market is still strong and the best way to keep it that way is to facilitate purchases among residents (both new and longtime) — rather than relying on bubble-fueling condo speculators.

So take note: this January 27 and February 10, 2007 at the Rodriguez Branch Library at 6th and Girard — learn how to take the next step at this handy homebuying workshop. (You know it’s time.)

Hell, we might have to get off our asses and see if they have any quick remedies for a credit score that’s rapidly approaching negative six thousand.

Our only regret: the workshop, unlike its alleged inspiration in Brooklyn, is not being held at a bar.

Related:
Seriously, buy a home in Fishtown — it’ll be worth double in, like, two years [Solo Realty]
Homebuying for Hipsters [Curbed]

[ Photo via Philly Skyline ]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

CCRA readies to punk the Philadelphia Planning Commission, this time even worse than before

OK, so remember last year when the CCRA did an amazing job of taking a shitily designed condo proposal for 1919 Market Street and turning it into a pretty well functioning addition to the urban grid on Market Street West?

If not, here’s a quick recap via the CCRA:
The original design [of 1919 Market Street, the condominium scheduled for the northeast corner of 20th and Market Streets, at right] called for a 27-story residential tower resting on a nine-story unventilated 500-space parking garage with openings to the outside like many unsightly parking garages.

The 39-story “after” proposal [below right], approved by the Zoning Board (subject to CCRA provisos) contains the following revisions:

•Before, there were 500 parking spaces. Now there are 296 slots, one for each unit.

•Before, all parking was situated in a nine-story podium, which covered the entire site. Now parking is three stories aboveground and three below.

•Before, the nine-story garage was unventilated but with perforated walls to permit airflow. Now the garage is ventilated so that all of its facades are fully enclosed. All of the Market Street and much of the 20th Street garage frontages will be wrapped with actives uses—retail at the ground level and apartments on the second and third levels. Except for the entrances, the garage is not visible.

•Before, residents of the Penn Center House living from the third through ninth floors could expect to look south across Commerce Street to the 1919 garage. Now, the 1919 garage rises no higher than the garage of Penn Center House.
Now that is what we like to call proper “design advocacy” on a new development. That’s all we’re asking for, people. Philadelphia is not a desperate school girl anymore, needing to take whatever trash a bunch of shadeball developers throw at her. She can afford to be selective and require her suitors to wash up before bringing their game. At the same time, she shouldn't only date little people.

It’s the not-so-hard-to-find common ground between NIMBYism and Developmania. NIMBYs are at one end of the spectrum, vehemently opposing any new development within a four-mile radius of their rowhome for no reason whatsoever — and that shit is dumb. Proponents of Developmania are at the other, insisting Philadelphia needs to take whatever new project is offered no matter how terribly conceived it is, e.g. an 11-story parking garage on Rittenhouse Square or a behemoth 700-car garage destined to destroy one of most important blocks for successfully linking Independence Mall with the Gayborhood — moronic.

Meanwhile, there’s all this spectacularly great room here in the "middle" between the two polarizations, in which we can encourage tons of sound urban development and, in so doing, make Philadelphia that much more awesome. (For serious, ask the Design Advocacy Group.) We just need the help of a planning body to start requiring that new developments do not regularly go against every known principle of urban design.

Enter the Center City Residents Association. While Mayor Street was off making the Philadelphia Planning Commission (PPC) borderline irrelevant, the CCRA raised $100,000 privately to fund a Neighborhood Plan because they lost all confidence that the PPC would do anything to ensure developers didn’t destroy the city. (And, sure, we know the CCRA proposal meetings have their fair share of NIMBYs and batshit crazzies making noise; but at least their leaders appear to be pushing mute whenever possible.)

And in only a few short weeks, on January 10, the CCRA will unveil their new plan, two years in the making, which promises to be a significant step in the right direction. Moreover, it will invariably bring further attention to the criminal lack of power the Philadelphia Planning Commission currently has. And hopefully this, in turn, will give more fuel to the PPCs new head, Janice Woodcock, and her efforts to bring back some real planning prerogatives to the once venerable Philadelphia Planning Commission.

After all, Big Urbanism is back. Get into it.

UPDATE:
Oh, snap. Inquirer Editorial Board piles it on too:
Nothing about Philadelphia's Byzantine, bloated zoning code is as simple as making the decision that it's finally time to fix it.

Those repairs - actually, a rewrite - should yield a set of rules that encourage the growth that's inevitable, and enviable. At the same time, they should safeguard the character of the city's neighborhoods.

New rules would replace the jumble of outdated regulations that require near-constant tinkering to make way for projects. It's a status quo that leads to patchwork development, encourages dubious deal-making and undercuts strategic planning.
Amen.

Related:
CCRA to unveil neighborhood plan; the planning commission is totally invited and will probably want to take notes [CCRA Official Site]
A little foreshadowing for you: CCRA shows up the Planning Commission [Philadelphia Inquirer via Google Cache]
Big Urbanism - The Year in Ideas [New York Times]
The Design Advocacy Group knows you dig it when they kick it, baby [Official Site]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Name that brothel hotel

Room Service IndeedBlind items are alright with us. Granted, this one’s a little old (from a Dan Gross column almost two months ago), but it's still worth relating.
One of Center City's brand-name hotels is said to be having prostitution problems. The hotel doesn't seem to mind playing host to an upscale call girl ring, but some guests have complained about the noises coming from the rooms of the floozies-for-hire.

In Oct. 2002, we reported that the same hotel was dealing with another prostitution problem. That time it was hotel staffers taking money for performing some extra special guest services.
If we had to guess, we’d go with the “Inn” that claims Philadelphia has a “Midtown.” For no other reason than it’s location, really.

UPDATE: An astute commenter points out that this is allegedly "an upscale call girl ring" which we had missed previously. So we were way off. Now we're inclined to agree that it could be the one with the Roman-looking lobby.

Toss your best guesses in the comments. Or if anyone has more than unsubstantiated conjecture, that’s welcome too.

Related:
Ain’t so much wrong with a little house of the rising son style room service [Daily News]

Monday, December 11, 2006

Riverside greenway coming soon to a neighborhood near you

The PSAs of Philebrity, Philly Skyline, Changing Skyline, Phawker and Philadelphia Will Do notwithstanding, we’d be remiss if we didn’t encourage you to get your collective rear ends down to the water's edge and help shape the future of the Delaware River Waterfront.

Plan Philly's waterfrontWednesday in Queen Village and Thursday at the Independence Seaport Museum. Be there.

Related:
No more Mr. Nice Guy — green space and riverfront access to take on “developmania” [Plan Philly]
“Philadelphia is probably the last American city to reclaim its industrial banks.” Not too shabby, right? [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Can the city of Philadelphia demand the Sixers trade their owners instead? Seriously.

Ed Snider, the worst owner in sportsWow. We don’t really know what to say.

The Allen Iverson era is apparently over in Philadelphia. He will most likely never don a Sixers uni again.

We are definitely shocked and obviously pretty upset. And while we are admittedly very emotionally tied to Iverson and the Sixers, and absolutely devastated at the prospect of him leaving the Sixers, leaving the city of Philadelphia, and going on to bring another town the championships that he invariably would have brought Philadelphia… deep down, we cannot help but feel genuinely happy for the man.

Pound for pound, he’s one of the greatest players to have ever played in the National Basketball Association. He single-handedly took a godawful trainwreck franchise to the brink of greatness. He has the heart of a fucking 3000-pound lion. Basically, he’s our hero.

And for those reasons (and so many more), he should not have to deal with the egregious incompetence of Ed Snider, Comcast-Spectacor and Co.

He should not have to deal with sophomoric ownership, ownership that doesn’t even know how to put fans in the stands to watch, cheer and provide a home-court advantage to one of the most remarkable (and marketable) stars the NBA has ever seen.

Ownership that knows absolutely nothing about basketball, yet has consistently meddled with the team behind the scenes, forcing Billy King to shop Iverson almost every year since 2000.

Ownership that has been nothing but a disruptive negative force on the Sixers since 2002. (Everyone in Philadelphia (including the players) held their collective breaths for three months this summer and fall, hoping that Ed Snider would tire of preying on the hopes and dreams of a city, and finally sell the Sixers to someone not affiliated with Satan. But that didn’t happen. And now, instead, Allen Iverson is gone and we’re stuck with Ed Snider and a giant void.)

He also shouldn’t have to deal with a GM/President who has no idea how to evaluate or compensate talent. And he shouldn’t have to deal with a coach who can’t figure out how to help his players get better or to play better together.

Allen Iverson 4evaBut at least Billy King isn’t a complete idiot. He doesn’t want to trade Iverson. He was trying to mediate the situation. It’s his boss who wants to trade Allen
and has wanted to trade him ever since 1999. And now he’s seizing Iverson’s frustration as an opportunity for him to finally dump AI without being implicated or liable for being the terrible owner that he is.
"It's just time for him to go his way and for us to go our way," Snider said.

"We'll trade him," Snider said.

"At a certain point, you have to come to grips with the fact that it's not working. He wants out and we're ready to accommodate him."


"I think it's time for him to move on, for us to move on and find out where everything stands. We're gonna trade him."
While we want to hold out hope that Billy King will finally stand up to Snider, tell him to fuck off, not trade Iverson, bring back Larry Brown, demote Cheeks to assistant, and then bask in the glory of the team’s then guaranteed success, we know that will never happen.

And so it is with a very, very heavy heart, inordinate sadness and also incredibly mixed emotions that we prepare to say goodbye to Allen Iverson.

We are happy for him inasmuch as he’s getting out of an awful situation. We’re devastated that it’s come to this — that he has to leave Philadelphia because the Sixers ownership is so incompetent they wasted the best athlete to ever play for a modern Philadelphia sports team.

Without doubt, a little part of us has died inside. We will probably never care about another team as much as we cared about Allen Iverson’s 76ers.

One thing is for sure, however: Comcast-Spectacor is dead to us. We will never watch another game as long as they own the franchise. Fuck you Comcast-Spectacor, Ed Snider et al., you fucking greedy egotistical rat bastards. You should be run out of this city on a rail.

Godspeed to you, Allen. You won’t need it. Especially if you end up in Minnesota.

Related:
Ed Snider is Philadelphia’s very own Lex Luthor [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Make it Webber for Garnett and then we'll have a deal [ESPN]
Damn, this shit is depressing [Google News]

Friday, December 08, 2006

Debunking the myth of the double-decker Schuylkill Expressway as a panacea to any of the region's traffic woes

Yea, we heard it all before. John Perzel's been hollarin' about it for years. And now apparently Richard Geist is on board. They want to build a second level on the Schuylkill Expressway in some crazy cockamamie scheme to alleviate traffic.
KYW's Tony Romeo reports that privatization of Pennsylvania roadways like the turnpike could open the door to some much needed relief on the Schuylkill Expressway.

Governor Rendell says he wants to hear from companies who'd be interested in running the turnpike in exchange for up-front cash, and Richard Geist (R-Blair County), chairman of the state House Transportation Committee, says there are other roadways in Pennsylvania that would be candidates for similar public-private partnerships.


If legislation Geist has drafted to allow that to happen is passed, he predicts that a proposal to expand the capacity of the Schuylkill Expressway by widening it some places and building an upper deck in others would be on a fast track:


"It wouldn’t take the normal 14 years that it takes in Pennsylvania. A project like that could be up and running in three."
The problem, kids, is that you can never build enough road to alleviate peak hour traffic. More cars come as soon as the road has increased capacity. Traffic engineers (some would call them "experts") even have a name for it: triple convergence.
The least understood aspect of peak-hour traffic congestion is the principle of triple convergence […] This phenomenon occurs because traffic flows in any region's overall transportation networks form almost automatically self-adjusting relationships among different routes, times, and modes.

For example, a major commuting expressway might be so heavily congested each morning that traffic crawls for at least thirty minutes. If that expressway's capacity were doubled overnight, the next day's traffic would flow rapidly because the same number of drivers would have twice as much road space.

But soon word would spread that this particular highway was no longer congested. Drivers who had once used that road before and after the peak hour to avoid congestion would shift back into the peak period. Other drivers who had been using alternative routes would shift onto this more convenient expressway. Even some commuters who had been using the subway or trains would start driving on this road during peak periods.

Within a short time, this triple convergence onto the expanded road during peak hours would make the road as congested as it was before its expansion.

Experience shows that if a road is part of a larger transportation network within a region, peak-hour congestion cannot be eliminated for long on a congested road by expanding that road's capacity.
How enlightening. Seriously. Read it again. In fact, you might want to check out the whole report.

Take a minute and think about it. In order to significantly alleviate the region's automobile traffic congestion via greater road capacity, "Governments would have to widen all major commuting roads by demolishing millions of buildings, cutting down trees, and turning most of every metropolitan region into a giant concrete slab."

That doesn't sound too smart, does it?

Instead of spending billions on a sprawl-inducing, smog-proliferating, monster highway, why not pursue a project that would actually do a lot more to address the problem… one that would "serve communities along this corridor, revitalize the old towns and cities along the Schuylkill River, encourage smart growth and development patterns that preserve open space, and reduce traffic, air pollution, and noise pollution related to automobile use." One that would basically make the Philadelphia region a lot stronger.

What could do all that? The Schuylkill Valley Metro Commuter Rail Line, that's what. Remember her? She was a fucking knockout. A ten. But all the toolish pols were intimidated by her sexy curves and overall hotness. (And, of course, the lack of federal funds — thanks dubya.)

Regardless, if people are going to start talking about building an extremely reactionary and moronic double decker Schuylkill Expressway expansion, we’re sure as shit going to start talking about sensible transit alternatives. And they don’t get much hotter than the fricking Schuylkill Valley Metro.

Hell, another alternative that’s way better — bury the goddamn expressway. At least we’d be able to reclaim one of our riverfronts.

UPDATE: New lead photo via Philly Skyline. Old Image below.

The Schuylkill Expressway, pre double decker
Related:
Coming soon to a toll road near you — the Pennsylvania Comcastic Turnpike On Demand Information Superhighway [KYW1060]
Traffic: Why it’s getting worse and what government can do (hint: it’s not build more highways) [Brookings Institution]
Schuylkill Valley Metro — you had us at hello [Official Site]
In my country there is problem, and that problem is transport [SEPTA]
Take it to the bank — Penn students propose a way to connect their campus to the Schuylkill [Philadelphia Weekly]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fire Maurice Cheeks?

We feel bad because obviously the players are devastated that the dead-end ownership decided not to sell the team. And, clearly, it's affecting their play.

So we're not sure how accountable to hold Maurice. But we fear the answer is getting precariously close to "very."

Meanwhile, as Philebrity pointed out, the team's new marketing efforts are not exactly — how do you say — inspired.



Oh dear. Um, we'll take a
whiskey on the side.

Better make it a double.

Related:
We're not actually sure that the Sixers qualify as a basketball team right now, professional or CYO for that matter [Philadelphia Daily News]
Watch the Sixers kick the Wizards' asses on Friday night and catch a live halftime performance of Chicken Noodle Soup — proud as peacock baby [Sixers.com]

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's so fucking cold out, even PECO feels bad

Peco Energy Saver KitWe're pretty sure we just saw icicles in our toilet, so we can truly appreciate PECO's newest endeavor.

A new online store makes it easier for suckers customers to weather-proof their homes, saving money and conserving energy at the same time. Everything is 20% off for PECO customers and PECO doesn’t profit from any sales.
It's December, it's cold and energy usage is rising, so where can homeowners go to purchase weatherization tools and energy-saving products? Simple, at PECO's new website, customers can purchase discounted energy-saving kits and energy-saving products.
PECO says one item, the Energy Saver Kit (right), can save customers between $125 and $250 per year and costs only $25. The kit includes:
-- Energy-saving information that can help homeowners save money around the house through weatherization and energy and water conservation strategies;
-- Kitchen and bathroom sink and shower aerators are practical, easy to install and are great to help save hot water;
-- Two rolls of foam weather-stripping to seal drafts in doors and windows;

-- Polyethylene tape to weatherproof and seal cracks in windows; and
-- Four switch and eight outlet insulators that fill the empty space behind wall switches and outlets to prevent drafts.
So the foam weather-stripping works on “drafts” does it? How about gusts? It’s not so much that our insulation is bad as — well — it doesn’t exist.

Related:
Sweet — maybe now we won’t have to wear a ski cap and mittens to bed [Yahoo Biz]
PECO unveils online store to help customers save [KYW1060]
PECO’s Energy Saving Web Store [Official Site]
How to cope with winter's high energy cost [Philadelphia Daily News]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Health vs. taste, and the many zero virtues of trans fats

5, um, maybe more like zero foood groupsThe veritable think tank that is WPVI asks:
Starting next summer all restaurants in New York City will have to stop frying food in oils that contains unhealthy trans fat. By the following summer ALL foods in all restaurants must be trans fat free. What if the same ban were imposed in Philadelphia?
Well, our fitness czar would probably dig it.

But is this on the Philadelphia Board of Health’s radar? Action News checked and the Board’s response: no — on account of most of their resources being used to deal with the smoking ban.

Ah, Philadelphia — a solid three-and-a-half years behind New York (bureaucratically speaking) and positively glowing.

Related:
Would a transfat ban work in Philly? We don’t know — would a vodka ban work in Moscow? [6ABC]
More than just cheesesteaks, pork nose for instance [Gridskipper]
New Jersey looks to bully poor obesity, diabetes and heart disease for no apparent reason [KYW 1060]
The good ol' days
— Phat times in Philly [CNN]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Adventures in breaking developers' spirits, NIMBY-style

Rendering of the Locust ClubThe Locust Club was the site of a proposed development for the 1600 block of Locust Street. An eight story, mid-rise condo (with tiered setbacks to respect the low-rise nature of the block), the proposal was generally received as a very good addition to a Center City block.

There was, however, a small set of local residents who were diametrically opposed to the proposal, even after the developer changed it to address their concerns, adding more setbacks on the higher floors.

Among them, Dan Berger, whose family owns the building at 1622 Locust, leasing it to his law firm Berger & Montague, which was conveniently prepared to litigate developments like these in perpetuity.

Here’s an excerpt from the dispute from 2005. [emphasis added]
The developer, Ceebraid-Signal Corp. of Stamford, Conn., which has already redesigned the project once to try and appease concerns, received support of local architectural preservationists, as well as local zoning authorities and the city's historic commission.

"There should be nothing that needs to be changed," said Jason Schlessinger, who heads the development firm building the $25 million project. Schlessinger is frustrated over the opposition. "I am committed to the project and the city of Philadelphia."
Fast forward 20-some months to Sunday. [Emphasis added]
Jason Schlesinger, chairman and chief executive officer of Connecticut-based Ceebraid-Signal Corp., said he sold the property about eight months ago to local real estate developer Ravi Chawla after tiring of resistance to the project.

"Berger made it clear to me that he'd spend whatever amount of money he had to stop me from building," Schlesinger said. "I'm not in the business of waiting around. I just said enough with Philadelphia."
Ladies and Gentlemen, there you have it. If you’re wondering how to give Philadelphia a black eye in the minds of developers considering bringing business to this city, look no further. Dan Berger should be able to help you out.

The sad part here, of course, is that this is in no way an isolated incident. There are a lot of longtime residents of Center City and the surrounding neighborhoods that are inexplicably terrified of heights, waging war with any proposed new building that dare rise more than four stories.

And while community input is invaluable to any growth that Philadelphia is to have, you know something is fucked up when a small minority can so disrupt the process that they completely disgust developers to the point that the developers never again pursue or finance another project in Philadelphia.

We realize that in regards to 1616 Locust all is not lost. After Schlessinger sold the Locust Club property, the Curtis Institute of Music stepped in wanting to develop the site. Which is fine.

The massive black eye that Philadelphia now has in the eye of at least one developer, however, cannot be ignored. It’s too emblematic of a much larger problem that continues to harm Philadelphia everyday its planning and zoning issues go unreformed.

Related:
NB to Curtis Institute: mind the volume — we can’t imagine your new neighbors are going to be thrilled about the noise [Philadelphia Inquirer]
NIMBYs oppose condo development, citing the "historical milieu" of the block. Everyone in the room immediately points and laughs at the giant pretentious douchebags [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Legal limbo for Locust Club condo project [Changing Skyline]
Developmentally disabled [Philadelphia Weekly]

Friday, December 01, 2006

That town smells like cheeseteaks

That town is full of history.

Anyway, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce got Michael Scott and Jerome Bettis to shill for Philadelphia at a recent convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Actually, Steve Carrell and The Bus were there filming an episode of NBC’s
The Office, in which Carrell’s character, Michael Scott, and several colleagues attend the annual Northeastern Mid Market Office Supply Convention in Philadelphia, or, as Michael Scott calls it, "a booze-fueled, sex romp where anything goes."

The Chamber got The Bus to sit at their table and a lucky conventioneer eventually got a Michael Scott and Jerome Bettis sandwich.

Bully for her.

Related:
Looks like someone took the slow train from Philly — that’s code for check out the slut
[GPCC]
Season Three of The Office [NBC]