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December 2014

There are 76 blog entries for December 2014.

As this is the time of year for this sort of thing, let's look at some of the other year-in-review lists of top developments now that you've seen ours:

Looking Back: 14 Awesome New Attractions and Developments That Opened in Philadelphia In 2014 (Uwishunu)
Top real estate stories of 2014: From Comcast tower to East Market (Philadelphia Business Journal) 
Five Developments We're Tracking in 2015 (Property blog|Philadelphia magazine) 
The Year in Curbed 2014: The 36 Most Talked-About Starchitect Projects of 2014 (Curbed National) 

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Comcast Innovation & Technology Center foundationIt may be a hole in the ground now, but the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center rises head and shoulders above all other developments as the top development story of 2014.

1. Comcast Innovation and Technology Center. This story tops them all—literally: when complete, the 1,121-foot-tall, 59-story tower will be the tallest building in the United States outside New York and Chicago. The road from announcement to start of construction was short—six months—and now, at year end, the foundation of the Norman Foster-designed tower is in place and the building's core is beginning to rise. When finished, it will contain just shy of one million square feet of office space for Comcast, retail on the lower floors and a new Four Seasons Hotel on top.


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Just as interest rates can cause the entire economy to soar or sink, so interest rates can influence the direction of home prices.

Why would that be? Consider that the biggest single housing cost is the monthly mortgage payment. For a $100,000 mortgage, a rise of 2 percentage points in the interest rate can add more than $100 to your monthly payment.That can be enough to make the difference between buying that home and sitting on the sidelines, or between buying the home of your dreams and settling for something less that you can afford.

However, even though interest rate hikes will lead more buyers to remain renters, and interest rate drops will do the opposite, it does not follow that interest rate changes will have the same effect on home

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Commonwealth Court sets limits on the city's ability to seize property in drug cases; tenants shelled out a record-high $8.1 billion to rent apartments in Philly this year, partly because there are more renters and partly because there aren't more apartments; there's another local startup seeking to play matchmaker in the rental market, but this one's student-focused; and in a series of haunting time-lapse photos, a local photographer captures buildings in the act of becoming ghosts:

Court restricts city's ability to seize homes used by drug dealers (The Philadelphia Inquirer|
Zillow: Philadelphia renters paid $8.1 billion in 2014 (
HouzeMe wants to be OkCupid for student housing (|Philly)
Travels Through the Ghost City

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New construction in Northern LibertiesNew construction projects like the ones we cover on Philly Living add to the supply of housing. If demand is strong, home prices will remain stable or even rise. If demand is weak, or if builders flood the market with new homes, prices will fall.

People with good jobs will increase the demand for housing, but if there are too many homes available in a local market, prices will remain low. Conversely, an area with a stagnant job market could still see rising home prices if the supply of homes is tight. Today's post looks at the supply side of the supply-demand equation.

A local housing market consists of three categories of housing: new homes for sale, existing homes for sale, and homes and apartments offered for rent. Some of the homes for rent may

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117 W Girard Ave

On our recent stroll through Fishtown and Old Kensington to check on the pace of construction activity, we came across this development not in progress at Hope Street and Girard Avenue, on the Old Kensington side of the Old Kensington-Northern Liberties boundary.

It's clear from this photo that work on this new construction project has come to a halt just short of full completion. Permit data on file with Licenses and Inspections appears to confirm this as well.

Demolition of the structure previously on this site at 117 W. Girard Ave. took place in 2012, and the zoning and building permits for the construction of the three-story building that now sits unfinished were issued in September 2012 and January 2013 respectively. But while the zoning

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Help Wanted signLots of signs like this one are a good sign for home owners and buyers, for it means that house values will likely rise over time.

Like all markets, the housing market’s fortunes depend on two factors: supply and demand. When supply outstrips demand, prices fall; when demand outstrips supply, prices rise.

There you have this section in a nutshell. You can go (shop for a) home now.

But before you do, maybe you might want to learn what causes supply and demand to fluctuate. Let’s start with the demand side.

People need to be able to come up with the money to buy homes. The chief way most of us do that is by working. And we need to work hard, too, for housing is usually the single biggest expense in any household budget.

That means that the

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Wawa gets the go-ahead to upsize its corporate headquarters in Chester Heights; a prominent husband-and-wife real estate team finds house-flipping a satisfying sideline; the tech law community picks up on an asset seizure case so weak, not even the seizure-happy Philly DA can pursue it; and Curbed Philly wonders whatever became of the octopus that ate a South Street seafood restaurant:

Wawa Gets Approval to Expand Delaware County Corporate Headquarters (NBC10 Philadelphia)
A real estate agent gets into flipping ( 
Philadelphia DA Drops Case Against Parents Whose House Was Seized Over a $40 Drug Sale By Their Son (Techdirt) 
The Mystery of the Missing South Street Octopus (Curbed Philly) 

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310 W Girard rendering

When architect Kevin J. O'Neill first presented the proposed mixed-use project at 310 W. Girard Ave. to the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association Zoning Committee, the members were generally receptive to the proposal, but as is their wont, asked him to attend to some details about the project's design.

Having done so, the committee gave the project its blessing, subject to dealing with one last detail.

The project consists of three five-story apartment buildings: one fronting on Girard Avenue, one fronting on 3rd Street and one facing Orianna Street. The Girard Avenue building will have street-level commercial space. A 36-space ground-floor parking lot in between the buildings, accessed from both 3rd and Orianna streets, will be covered by a

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1 W Girard Ave

What's in a name?

More business for its owner, it appears.

When the renovations currently under way on this building at 1 W. Girard Ave. in Frankford are complete, the street floor space will become the second location for Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop, a Northeast Philly cheesesteak landmark since 1949.

Joe's had been revered by its Wissinoming neighbors for decades under its original name of Chink's, but when Joe Groh took over the business from founder and mentor Sam Sherman, whose narrow eyes led neighborhood kids to give him the nickname "Chink," he decided to drop the name in favor of one that was not offensive to Chinese-Americans, who had long objected to the slur. This earned him a fair bit of criticism from old-timers, many of whom

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