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Ray’s Reusables Brings Sustainable Shopping to Northern Liberties

In March, Ray Daly opened her first brick and mortar store, Ray’s Reusables, at 935 N. 2nd St in Northern Liberties after running her business on the road as Philadelphia’s first mobile refill shop.

“In 2020, I turned a cargo van into a traveling eco-store, bringing reusable, low-waste products to farmers’ markets in East Falls and Fairmount,” said Daly. In her white van, decorated with Ginko leaves, Ray’s Reusables was well received.

“With the flexibility and mobility of the van, I was able to go into different neighborhoods around the city, making sustainable shopping easier for eco-conscious Philadelphians,” she said. 

“But there were neighborhoods I could not reach due to many farmers’ markets limiting vendors to producers and also the narrowness of streets in certain sections of the City,” she said. Meanwhile, residents of Northern Liberties and Fishtown sought her out via Instagram. 

Refill station at Ray’s Reusables in Northern Liberties

“As soon as I opened the shop in Northern Liberties, they came,” said Daly. “Among the most popular products are UNpaper towels made out of cotton flannel in fun patterns,” she said. “The other products that are in demand are refills: organic hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, and body wash.” Other products include a cast iron conditioner, beeswax wrap, rosewater face cream, bamboo cutlery and brushes, natural toothpaste, and an all-purpose cleaner.

Why sustainability?

“Plastic production has increased dramatically since it first came on the scene. Between 1950 and 2019, approximately, 8.3 billion pounds of plastic were created. Only 9% of that total has been recycled. 79% is in landfills and, worse yet, in our oceans and other ecosystems,” said Daly. “I believe that as consumers we have the power to effect change. By investing in quality reusable and refillable solutions we also invest in the health of the environment.”

How it all started

A self-described “Air Force brat” who grew up in Maryland, Daly has traveled all over the world but, before moving to Philly in 2018, she had never lived in a large American city. 

“I came here with my husband whose family lives across the bridge in Jersey,” she said. “I had been teaching high school English in Maryland and working at Whole Foods when I decided to go in another direction.“

“I started by turning the pockets from my old jeans into something useful and beautiful – cutlery holders! But as I watched the pandemic unfold and saw the waste that was being created as a result, I realized I wanted to do even more to support the sustainable community. That’s why I decided to open up Philadelphia’s first mobile refill shop.”

Daly seized the moment, realizing that during the pandemic people preferred to shop outdoors rather than entering a shop. Farmers’ markets created the perfect opportunity. “My mission was to make plastic-free options accessible and affordable to people regardless of where they live in the City.”

“Now that I have a storefront, it gives me a lot more flexibility in what I can carry. I just expanded to face care refills and curly hair gel,” said Daly. Besides basing her business in Northern Liberties, Daly is looking forward to becoming a neighborhood resident in the near future.

The new brick-and-mortar location shop allows Ray to stock a wider array of products, and reach a new audience but on Saturdays and First Fridays, Daly will continue to take the shop on the road. Her goal? To make sustainable options more accessible for all.

Stop by 935 N. 2nd St to support this sustainable small business during their store hours Mon, Wed, Fri: 11am – 7pm; Saturday: 3pm – 6pm; and Sunday: 10am – 4 pm, or check out their calendar to see where the van will pop up next.

Kensington Yards Phase Two Groundbreaking

We at Solo Real Estate, in collaboration with Bright Common and Red Oak Development are so thrilled to announce the groundbreaking of Phase 2 of Kensington Yards. Building B will have a lot in common with the first phase of our project which is fully completed. Although, unlike the first building which incorporated an old, pre-existing structure with new construction, the second building will be all new construction which allows for some additional flexibility in design.

 

Phase 2 will consist of 7 units which will be priced starting in the high $200,000s. You will see many of the finishes that were present in Phase 1 in these units, such as reclaimed wood and poured concrete countertops designed by local artisan Jayme Guokas of Craftwork Design.

 

Especially exciting is that, once the second building is complete, plans for the communal interior courtyard designed by Philadelphia-based landscape architect Hans Hesselein of Apiary Studio will be implemented.

Recently we sat down with Solo’s Alex Franqui to discuss what we can expect from Kensington Yards Phase 2. Here’s what we learned!

 

Question: What’s exciting about Building B?

Alex: The home stretch! It will be great to have 7 exceptionally thought out spaces for sale. In particular, I’m excited about the largest one bedroom, which is about 1,200 square feet on the top two levels. That should be a terrific, one of a kind space.

 

Q: What are the design goals and core values of this phase?

A: We’re looking to provide great light and large, usable spaces that prioritize the daily living experience of the residents while also aiming for energy efficiency. We want to give residents something more than what else is out on the market, and to a create a building that is additive to the community at large. We really want to respect the current built environment while at the same time creating something new and modern that’s nice to look at.

 

Q: What kind of community are you building?

A: This is tough, because we don’t select the members of the community. The community selects itself in a way. We believe that people who prioritize design and appreciate the texture of the neighborhood will want to be members of this community and build on it together. People of various ages and backgrounds have been attracted to the units so far. It is very much a microcosm of our diverse city here in Philadelphia.

 

Q: What role do you see KY playing in the fabric of the neighborhood?

A: We want people to stop and say, “Wow, new construction can look great!” We hope that through our clean, straightforward design we can show people what’s attainable. Maybe some other developers will take notice as well.

 

Q: What’s exciting about Kensington?

A: Kensington is Philadelphia. It’s a mix of industrial, residential, and cutting edge commercial. It’s racially and ethnically diverse. It has room for newcomers and a strong existing community that helps guide the shape of things to come.

The construction begins on Kensington Yards Phase 2!

The target completion date for Phase 2 is August or September 2018 so stay tuned for more information and updates as building progresses! Can’t wait for Phase 2? There are just a couple units from Phase 1 left, available here. Need more info on that communal courtyard ASAP? Check out our profile of Hans Hesselein of Apiary Studio on the blog. Curious about the architect behind the project? We have a blog feature on them too.

Philadelphia Phases In The New With These Big Developments

Taking a step away from some of the major new developments gathering buzz around Center City – the monumental new skyscraper for the Comcast Tower and the contested Toll Brother’s plans for Jewelers’ Row are a few that come to mind – we decided to take a look at some other notable projects shaping our neighborhoods.

 

Rendering for the new Yards Brewery at 5th & Spring Garden. Courtesy of Digsau.

 

  • Yards Brewery

Taking up a new home in the former Destination Maternity building at 5th & Spring Garden, Yards Brewing Company has a whole lot of space to fill in the whopping 70,000 square foot structure. Luckily the team behind Yards and collaborators at Digsau, a Philadelphia based urban design and architecture firm, are up to the talk. A $19 million dollar affair, this inspiring project includes a beer garden, large scale brewing facility, a tasting room sporting a full food menu as well, and potential space for other businesses. According to recent announcements there are plans for a Target to open in this space as well. With so many big box buildings with little commercial activity, this Yards facility could be just what is needed to attract more pedestrian activity along this stretch of Spring Garden Street.

 

 

 

The lot at the NW corner of Broad & Washington that Lincoln square will fill. 

 

  • Lincoln Square

Brought to the city by MIS Capital LLC and Alterra Property Group, this 3.4 acre, full city block development at Washington Ave & Broad Street is focused on mixed-use. Plans for the project include 322 apartment units, 100,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery store, and 400 parking spaces. Visually, the building will have an 8-story apartment tower with two stories of retail below. Construction is scheduled to start this year, with completion set for late 2018. One notable feature of the project is the 1876 train depot included on the site which the developers plan to restore and most likely use for retail.

 

  • 1220 Frankford Ave Hotel

Brought to Fishtown by Roland Kassis’ Domani Developers Inc, of Frankford Hall, La Colombe, and, most recently, City Fitness fame this project might be the developer’s most ambitious undertaking yet. Kassis is working with architect Morris Adjmi to create a 114 room hotel, something previously unheard of in the neighborhood. Plans for this six-story hotel include a rooftop pool, skyline views, room prices ranging from $80-200 a night, a handful of restaurants, and office space. While WM Mulherin’s Sons at Front & Master Streets claimed the prize for the first hotel in Fishtown, 1220 Frankford Ave will achieve something of an even larger scale.

 

 

  • Fishtown Village, Suite Row, and Avenue 30

A number of plans for big housing developments in the Fishtown and Kensington neighborhoods are popping up boasting their status at gated communities. Marlborough Development LLC brings Fishtown Village at Marlborough & Wildey Streets, while further north in East Kensington a collaboration between United Makers and Philly Home Girls, Suite Row, is underway at Cumberland & Jasper Streets. Lastly, Riverwards Group & KJO Architects have recently broken ground on their own large gated townhouse community on the 2600 blocks of both Amber and Collins Streets. Starting prices for these homes range from $339-700,000.

 

Two renderings for the Reading Viaduct Rail Park: The access staircase at 13th & Noble (top) and one example of the seating and design (bottom). Courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes.

 

 

  • Reading Viaduct Rail Park

Demolition is underway, with 80% completed, and on track for development at the highly anticipated Reading Viaduct Rail Park. Taking inspiration, and lessons, from New York City’s Highline project, this reuse and remodeling of a formerly abandoned viaduct rail will present a boon to the surrounding community. So far workers on the project have mostly been dealing with remediating soil, making sure the site is clean and safe for planting, and restoring stone walls in collaboration with Studio Bryan Hanes. The next stage will focus on building foundations for the access stairway that will be at 13th & Noble Street, repairing any damage to bridges and doing important waterproofing, installing metal railings along the edges for safety, and doing the first phase of planting and painting.

 

Construction is well under way at East Market.

 

  • The Gallery & East Market

In addition the much discussed total renovation at the Gallery on East Market Street, just down the street is another large scale development. While this is still part of Center City, the promise this project holds for this specific enclave of downtown is significant. East Market is springing up on the entire block between Market, Chestnut, 11th, and 12th Streets. The project consists of three buildings – two residential towers with retail on the ground level and office space at Family Court Building which is also being renovated. One residential tower, the Ludlow, designed by BLT Architects is geared more towards millennials with a younger vibe and smaller units, while the other, a collaboration between Morris Adjmi and BLT Architects will target more established professionals and families. One special feature here is the pedestrian-only street that will cut through the middle of the block, connecting Market & Chestnut. This project checks off most of the design and planning boxes with its focus on mixed-use development, pedestrian accessibility, and underground parking.

 

Check back in the upcoming weeks for more information about how Solo Realty is getting involved in Philadelphia’s new construction boom with our own project – Kensington Yards. We are really excited about this development and look forward to giving some updates about its progress and more features on our various collaborators.

 

Featured image via Map data ©2017 Google.

Will SEPTA Key Unlock the Doors to Public Transportation?

For the past year or so Philadelphia’s world of SEPTA riders has been abuzz, and often very bewildered, about the impending SEPTA Key Card system. As someone who is an avid public transportation rider, but has also always lived near stations that do not even have a token machine, the prospect of the SEPTA Key is certainly intriguing. Yet the slow, multi-phase roll-out of the new card system has often left riders more confused than convinced.

 

The SEPTA Key officially debuted last year, but has had a slow rollout. Up until recently the Key was available for purchase almost exclusively from the SEPTA headquarters at 1234 Market Street. This past month, SEPTA added another permanent buying location – 69th Street Transportation Center.

 

SEPTA logo. Image courtesy of http://septa.org/service/kt21.pdf via Wikimedia Commons.

In addition to tacking on a second purchasing spot, a temporary buying phase, spanning roughly from February 13th to March 3rd, descended upon all Fare Kiosks at Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line, and Bus Loop Stations. Don’t worry – if you missed that opportunity, the next phase should not be too far behind.

 

Beyond the confusion of where and when to buy the elusive SEPTA Key, the way in which it has to be bought may also strike some as odd. For a first time buyer, the Key must be purchased with a Weekly or Monthly pass. After this initial purchase, the rider has the option to either continue with the Weekly or Monthly option, or to use the card to fill their Travel Wallet. The Travel Wallet allows the rider to take advantage of the discounted $1.80 fare by filling their card with a minimum of $10 (and up to $250) and using it as they please.

 

At the 69th Street Transportation Center the Key Card is purchasable without the commitment to a Weekly or Monthly pass, but with a minimum amount of $10 instead.

 

So, if you can figure out how to get your hands on the SEPTA Key, the options are endless. The cards are reloadable at any Fare Kiosk, major sales offices (such as 15th Street Station, Frankford Transportation Center, and 69th Street Transportation Center), by phone at 855-567-3782, or online at www.septakey.org, where you can also check your balance. There is also an autoload option where the card can be set up to refill on a monthly basis.

 

Additionally, building on the Quick Trip option launched last year, where riders can use a credit or debit card to purchase a single-ride at $2.25 at a kiosk, SEPTA has plans to enable contactless payment with any bank issued chip card at that same price. This way, even those without the SEPTA Key Card, which is also a contactless chip card, can move through the turnstiles with similar ease.

 

The current token design has been in place for around two decades.

 

While SEPTA has not launched any program to actually terminate the token, this is clearly the long term plan. Most stations no longer even have a token turnstile, as they have been replaced with the swiping system.

 

Some old, since retired SEPTA token designs. Photo courtesy of “The Cooper Collections” (uploader’s private collection) Digital photographs and composite image created by the uploader, Centpacrr via Wikimedia Commons

As the last city to still use tokens for major public transportation, this is definitely an important step for making SEPTA use more accessible and convenient for all, and bringing Philadelphia’s transit into the 21st century. The token will forever be a cherished relic by many of the city’s current and former inhabitants. It was brought to the city by the now defunct Philadelphia Transportation Company in the 1940s and incorporated by SEPTA in the late 1960s.

 

While the rollout of SEPTA Key has happened in an often clunky and confusing manner, we remain optimistic that, once the transition has happened, the convenience and access that the card system allows for will only bolster the ever changing and growing Philadelphia. No longer tied to tokens and the limited options for buying them, Philadelphia residents and visitors alike will be able to move about the city freely and conveniently. 

A wheel winner: Bikes lanes make motorists safer too

A recent article on the benefits of bike lanes caught our attention. While some of the benefits listed are widely known, such as increasing the number of cyclists and improving safety for cyclists, this one in particular caught our eye: adding more bike lanes improves safety for motorists. Here’s how:

A study in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio found that without a marked bike lane, car drivers veer so far away from bicyclists that they swerve into the next car lane 90% of the time.

The researchers concluded that this is because the drivers don’t have lane lines to determine the appropriate amount of space to give cyclists, and are unable to gauge that amount of space sans bike lane.

When there was a bike lane on the other hand, fewer drivers veered away from the bike lane, and when they did, they only veered 40 percent as far as those who veered without a bike lane.

Here in Philadelphia, we have a solid and growing system of bike lanes, but there’s room for improvement yet. To see our current bicycle infrastructure, look out for the latest print version of the Philadelphia Bicycle Map, which will be released later this month (in the meantime you can use this online version).

However, the process of adding new bike lanes in Philly is challenging. In 2012, City Council passed a bill requiring a resolution from Council to create any new bike lanes that remove a parking or driving lane.

The City has seen at least one much-needed addition to the bike lane network thwarted due to this law: 22nd Street in the Fairmount neighborhood.

In the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) blog post about the demise of the proposed bike lane, they too mention the fact that the bike lane would have improved safety for motorists as well as cyclists.

As we wrote about in our blog post on parking, infrastructure decisions such as these about parking or bike lanes boil down to whether the City will accommodate more cars, or more people (some of them on bikes).

We can either design the city to prioritize more people (some of them on bikes) or more cars
We can either design the city to prioritize more people (some of them on bikes) or more cars

 

At Solo, we are definitely in the “more people” camp! Luckily, some Council members are as well. Councilman Henon introduced a bill to add a buffered bike lane on Tyson Avenue from Frankford Avenue to Roosevelt Boulevard, which will require the removal of a traffic lane in each direction.

Philadelphia was also recently awarded federal and state funding to add multiple new protected bike lanes. Here’s a handy visual guide to and analysis of all the different methods to “protect” a bike lane; the new lanes being installed in Philly will use the second option on the list, flexible plastic delineator posts.

Another heartening sign came recently on Bike to Work Day (May 22nd) when three Councilpeople joined a group of about 50 cyclists biking down west Market Street. All three expressed support for adding a protected bike lane to the 5-lane wide arterial. The ride terminated at Dilworth Park, where Mayor Kenney himself spoke about the importance of bike infrastructure.

For the safety of motorists, cyclists, and even pedestrians, we hope the bike lane network in Philadelphia continues to expand. We’ve been saying as much here on the Solo blog for years.

We also practice what we preach! Solo is developing condos at 1326-1332 N 5th  Street with parking for bikes instead of cars, and currently house the headquarters for the City’s Indego Bike Share program in one of our buildings.

If this blog post has piqued your interest, check out the BCGP’s guide of where they believe bike lanes should be added in each Council District, and how to contact your Councilperson to advocate for them!

2nd image courtesy of Pixabay.

Philly Parking at a Crossroads

Although Philadelphia is no New York when it comes to parking scarcity, the current situation could be summed up in one word: inconsistent. Sometimes parking is a breeze, at other times a headache.  As more people move into the City, we will be faced with a choice: cater to cars, or to everything else?

Streets that accommodate multi-modal transit are the holy grail of city planning; in Philadelphia there is a Complete Streets Handbook devoted to the subject. In an ideal world, every street would be able to accommodate vehicles, a bike lane, a parking lane, a dedicated public transit lane, and sidewalk.

In an ideal world, streets would also be very wide to accommodate all those modes of transit!

A cross-section of a "complete street" from Philadelphia's Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities
A cross-section of a “complete street” from Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities

 

In Philadelphia, we have a street grid that consists of many streets that are narrow one-ways, with parking on one side of the street or no room for parking at all, let alone a bike lane.

This is both a blessing and a curse. Because Philadelphia is full of charming, smaller streets we are faced with the fact that we can’t always have our cars and park them too.

How is this a blessing? Not only do these narrower streets and smaller blocks make the city more walkable to begin with, but parking is very much a chicken-and-egg situation. If it is expensive to pay for parking or too difficult to find parking spots, people are more likely to seek alternate modes of transit. New York City serves as a great example of this.

The flip side of that argument is, if we have a robust and convenient public transportation system, people are more likely to use it. Luckily, we do!

One of the "open streets" (aka streets without cars) during the Papal visit in September
One of the “open streets” (aka streets without cars) during the Papal visit in September

The papal visit last September provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience what Center City would be like without cars. The verdict? Magical!

Every September, for one day parking spaces around the City are turned into mini-parks (aka “parklets”) for national Park(ing) Day. The intent of the event is to draw attention to the amount of space dedicated to parking, when it could be used for, say, miniature county fairs, a slice of wilderness, yoga and outdoor concerts.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation's Park(ing) Day parklet: a tiny forest in Center City
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Park(ing) Day parklet: a tiny forest in Center City

Taking the pulse on where Philly stands in accommodating cars versus other modes of transit, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission recently released its inventory of public parking spaces in Center City.

While the number of public spaces (either in publicly-owned garages, lots, or on-street parking) decreased by 7%, the study concludes that “Significant numbers of commuters, visitors, and residents of the city are continuing to choose to drive to and park in Center City.”

And that’s in Center City, the most dense and transit-accessible part of Philadelphia. It is crucial to set the example of transit-oriented development in Center City if we expect other neighborhoods, with fewer public transit routes, to follow suite.

Ultimately, the question is are we designing cities for cars, or are we designing cities for people?

At Solo, one of our current development projects, condos at 1326-1332 North 5th Street and 1331-1335 North Randolph Street, seeks to set a precedent for designing cities for people (not cars) in the South Kensington neighborhood.

The condo buildings have no off-street parking, in order to encourage residents to use the nearby Market-Frankford El and Girard Avenue trolley, in addition to numerous bus routes and IndeGo bike share.

We hope that we can keep and improve Philadelphia in the name of people, not cars, and that our development project is a step in that direction.

Opening image: “The Parking Lot” by Alden Jewell – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA. https://flic.kr/p/rhJ822

Complete streets diagram courtesy of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities: http://www.phila.gov/green/pdfs/CompleteStreets.pdf

Papal visit open street image courtesy of Twitter user 108_Victoria_St: https://twitter.com/108_Victoria_St/status/647824351874654208/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation parklet photo courtesy of PlanPhilly: https://twitter.com/PlanPhilly/status/644951074978299904

Moving Trucks are Philly-Bound

Between the Pope visit, 2016 DNC, the growing population and economy, Philadelphia’s renaissance is real. Need another affirmation of this fact? Moving trucks are heading to the City of Brotherly Love/Sisterly Affection in record numbers. Continue reading for a fun infographic illustrating this fact, and, more importantly, why!

 

U-Haul, one of the largest truck rental and moving companies in the country, recently published its annual list of the Top 10 moving truck destinations. This year Philadelphia moved up two slots to #8 after making the Top 10 for the first time two years prior.

 

So, why?

 

In the past decade, the city has come into its own. U-Haul cites the following factors as evidence of the city’s success: a comprehensive and growing public transportation system, new skyscrapers springing up along the skyline, shops and restaurants populating formerly vacant commercial corridors, innovative public space and walkways, and music and entertainment festivals of all kinds enlivening the waterfront piers.

 

Not to mention the 8,000 jobs added in 2014, which also marked the eighth year of consistent population growth for the city.

 

At the root of all these assets U-Haul identifies the city’s walkability and affordability, particularly in relation to its competitor cities, as the driving forces behind Philadelphia’s recent growth.

 

So if you didn’t already know it, Philly’s a place to Love Where You Live! We’ll let the infographic do the talking from here:

 

 

 

Opening image: “leaving zion” by Kai Schreiber – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/genista/47620113/in/album-903925/

Purchasing Power Goes Further in Philly

What can $1 million buy you in Philly? A lovingly updated, historically preserved, 6,000 square foot mansion in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the City. What can that buy you in other cities? Well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out, but, spoiler alert: Philly wins this one hands down.

 

A pending sale in Philly caught our eye recently. At $999,900, 999 North 6th Street offers 6,800 square feet of ornate original detailing and modern amenities.

 

Included in the sale is a carriage house with 3-car parking below a 2-bedroom apartment and an additional property behind the main house.

 

999 North 6th Street is a classic Philadelphia mansion recently listed for sale for $1 million

 

It probably comes as no surprise that a property that is simultaneously a historical, classic style mansion and updated with desirable modern amenities is hard to come by at that price elsewhere.

 

In New York City $1 million will buy you, for example, a 750 square foot apartment on the Upper West Side, or a 1,300 square foot condo in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn.

 

$1 million will buy you this 750 square foot apartment on the Upper West Side in Manhattan

 

For a property comparable in size and historical style in New York City, you are looking at a bill of at least $16,000,000.

 

In Chicago’s Lincoln Park, for the exact price of 999 North 6th Street, you could purchase a 4,350 square foot, 4-bed and 3.5-bath, new construction.

 

In Chicago, this new construction is going for $1 million

 

These properties don’t quite compare to 999 North 6th Street, with 8-bedrooms and 4-baths, a wine cellar, cupola room with a stained glass skylight, custom-made walls in wood and Lincrusta throughout, multiple working fireplaces, beautifully updated chef’s kitchen, and private garden.

 

Updated chef’s kitchen (left), and “office” room (right) featuring one of the many fireplaces in the $1 million Philly mansion

 

Put in context of the property being situated in Northern Liberties, one of Philadelphia’s trendiest neighborhoods, Philly is the place you will get the most for your budget.

 

Getting more for less in Philly doesn’t come at the expense of your surroundings and opportunities either. The Greater Philadelphia Area, if it was its own country, would have the31st largest GDP in the world—larger than that of France. So skip the Parisian chateau and see how your money will get you a whole lot more than just Brotherly Love in Philly.

 

Images of 999 North 6th Street courtesy of Philadelphia Magazine, Manhattan apartment image courtesy of amNew York, and Chicago new construction images courtesy of Zillow.

No Casino, No Problem

Though they lost their bid for the City’s second casino license, two casino license contestants still have options due to the prime pieces of real estate on which they proposed building a casino.

 

Last month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Board awarded Philadelphia’s second casino license to Live! Hotel & Casino, to be located at 900 Packer Avenue in South Philadelphia.

 

The location is in close proximity to Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park, the Wells Fargo Center, and the Xfinity Live! Complex.

 

Live! beat out three other finalists, including two proposed casinos at Broad & Callowhill Streets and Eighth & Market Streets, located near and in Center City, respectively.

 

City officials are confident that other uses would be both easy to implement and profitable at both Eighth & Market and Broad & Callowhill. The former is currently an open-air parking lot owned by Ken Goldenberg and other investors, the latter is the former Inquirer Building and a multistory parking lot owned by Bart Blatstein.

 

Center city real estate brokerage CBRE/Fameco has indicated that both a non-grocery retail chain and a movie theater chain may have interest in the Eighth & Market location.

 

As for Broad & Callowhill, Blatstein reports that multiple groups have expressed interest in its purchase.

 

The parking lot (left) at 8th & Market, and the former Inquirer building (right) at Broad & Callowhill

 

While Live!’s victory was welcomed by its backers, Cordish Companies and Greenwood Racing Inc., for local neighborhood residents it was bittersweet. Their hopefulness about job creation is coupled with concerns over increased crime.

 

There are questions of whether a second casino was a good idea to begin with, given the increasingly saturated market.

 

However, since the question of whether a second casino would be built or not was off the table, Live! appears to be a good fit given the similar land use and scale of the surrounding stadiums.

 

Hopefully, the currently underused lot at Eighth & Market and vacant building at Broad & Callowhill can be quickly developed into mixed-use developments. One of the possible uses for the former, a movie theater, is not the most transformative or visionary option, but any walkable commercial use on the ground floor of those downtown sites is certainly preferable to a casino.

 

Opening image and Eighth & Market lot image courtesy of Philly.com, Inquirer building image courtesy ofHiddenCity.org.