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July 2012

There are 102 blog entries for July 2012.

If AVI becomes law, will moving to the 'burbs save you?

A view of the new townhouse development on Green Street in Northern Liberties Certainly, many Philadelphians believe that this is the case. We've seen comments on discussion boards and elsewhere from homeowners who say that if the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) takes effect with the 1.8 percent millage rate that had been proposed by Mayor Michael Nutter for this fiscal year, the next day, they will put their home up for sale and head for the suburbs. Yesterday, in a speech before the Chestnut Hill Community Association Board of Directors, City Controller and AVI opponent Alan Butkovitz raised the specter of a mass exodus from the neighborhood should full value property assessments take effect at a 1.8 percent property tax rate. Many present at the meeting agreed with his…
5,346 Views, 0 Comments.

NLNA sends Color Reflections plan back for third go-round

Color Reflections building "We cannot discern the merits of this presentation." That was what the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association (NLNA) Zoning Committee told HOW Properties when it first came before the group to pitch a proposal to redevelop the historic "Integrity" building at 542-44 N. 4th St., currently home to the Color Reflections reprographics firm. HOW came back with a revised plan last night, and the NLNA is still having trouble discerning its merits. The proposal as revised would transform the bulding, currently in a C2 (residential-commercial mixed-use, level 2) zone, into nine rental apartments with about 2,500 square feet of commercial space on the first floor and off-street parking. As with so…
2,701 Views, 0 Comments.

Condo conversion plan gets once-over from NLNA

338 Brown Street A fairly creative plan to stuff 10 condominiums and a 7-car enclosed garage into a pair of former commercial and industrial buildings at 338 Brown St. and 725 N. 4th St. in Northern Liberties received its first hearing before the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association  July 30. As with most other variance requests that come before the NLNA, parking, or the lack of it, became a sticking point. But there were others. Ventilation of the garage, for instance, and whether the window wells developer Ari Barkan planned to cut into the Brown Street structure passed muster for adequate light and air under the city's building code. There was also some talk about a first-floor unit that would be accessed strictly…
2,950 Views, 0 Comments.

Thursday's Hidden Treasure Hunt answer

House at 872-76 N. Lawrence St. However, the reader was way off on the construction date. As log houses are timeless, it's often hard to tell how old they are just by looking at them, but some aspects of this home's appearance suggests it well predates the 1980s. A search of public records confirms this: the house was built in 1920. It last changed hands in 1994, selling for $71,800. As the owner of record does not live in the house, we assume it's rented to a tenant. Its assessed market value in 2002 was about half that: $35,000. Given its condition, we're not sure it's appreciated as much as the houses surrounding it, and it certainly isn't worth as much as the new construction townhouses nearing completion immediately to its north: New townhouses just north of 876 N. Lawrence St. -By…
2,539 Views, 0 Comments.

Piazza hosts another successful block party

Piazza concert 072812 1Despite off and on rain showers throughout the day, the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties was packed for the majority of the day on Saturday for yet another successful Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party. The headlining band on Saturday was Icelandic folk/indie pop band Of Monsters and Men. This was our first time checking out one of the free summer concerts, and it was a great time! As per usual for this series, the Piazza was nearly full the entire time, as were the bars surrounding the general area. Perhaps due to the less than ideal weather, there was definitely plenty of open space at the opposite end of the stage but it was still a very strong showing and a very energetic crowd. (Your blog editor can…
2,408 Views, 0 Comments.

Cira Centre to get little brother in 1st phase of 2-part expansion

Rendering of Cira South

You’ve heard the speculation about Cira Centre South. You’ve read it in the forums. Seen it posted on other blogs. But here is the undisputed truth in the near term: The Cira Centre, the only bonafide skyscraper on the Schuylkill’s west bank, is about to get a brother: Cira Centre South Chestnut.

The Philadelphia skyline climbs like shiny, mirrored crystals, but it seems to end on the east bank of the Schuylkill. Not anymore. All thanks goes to Brandywine Realty Trust, which built the Cira Centre and is transforming University City into a urban area that not only contains some of the world’s finest scientists, academics and universities, but now will be home to multiple skyscrapers and…
6,930 Views, 0 Comments.

Standoff in Callowhill: Unquiet on the western front?

Goldtex project, stripped of its former identity and now being converted into apartments If we understand Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron's latest column correctly, the labor dispute at the Post Brothers' Goldtex apartment conversion project at 12th and Wood streets in the Callowhill Loft District is the confrontation no one's talking about. Yet it seems everyone's talking about it. A long-running discussion on Philadelphia Speaks is devoted to the dispute, and your blogger has run into a few individuals who, knowing what he does for a living, offered comments or directed him to resources on the dispute. But we haven't talked about it - yet. So we decided it was time to check out the situation. Protesters and workers at the Goldtex site In the wake of a reported assault on a Post Brothers worker by…
2,979 Views, 0 Comments.

Small Street Stories: From public way to private courtyard

For those of you who wonder why some neighbors in Washington Square West are fighting others who wish to cordon off a short stretch of Irving Street off Jessup Street, we offer you the story of the city's smallest public way. Or rather, the gated courtyard that used to be the city's smallest public way. Just off Panama Street, a few doors east of Camac Street, is Lantern Square. Platted in the mid-19th century, the short pedestrian path leads to a cluster of houses that also face Pine Street on their south. In this photo from 1963, the entrance to the courtyard is barely visible behind the house at right center, at the corner of Camac and Panama: [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"…
4,345 Views, 1 Comments.

Phabulous Philly Home of the Week: 1228-32 Arch St. #5A

Here's a lovely Center City loft apartment right in the heart of it all - just across the street from the Convention Center and steps from the Reading Terminal Market and City Hall.

The space itself has lots to recommend it too: large, open living/dining space with high ceilings, huge windows, dark hardwood floors and kitchen with bar counter, Wenge cabinetry and stainless steel appliances. Master suite with walk-in closet, full tile bath, and great city skyline view. Raised second bedroom off living area with large closet.

Living area with kitchen and view of second bedroomThis chic industrial-style rental in a handsome Beaux Arts building has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, and 1,349 square feet of interior space. It lists for $2,600 per month.

More on…
1,657 Views, 0 Comments.

Buildings Then and Now: 600 N. Broad St.

600 North Broad Street today In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, developers and impresarios sought to promote the area north of Spring Garden Street and west of Broad Street as a fashionable district for newly wealthy Philadelphians. A number of grand structures went up along this stretch of North Broad Street, most notably Oscar Hammerstein's Metropolitan Opera House (1908) three blocks north of this site. The grand structure that occupied this site was the second home of Central High School, the oldest public high school in the city and still one of its best today. It's on the left in this 1913 photo of the intersection of Broad and Green streets: Broad and Green streets, 1913By the time Central High School moved to its current site in West Oak Lane in 1936,…
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