Monday, November 29, 2004

Las Vegas on the Delaware

One of the world’s largest gaming companies - Caesar's - is floating a plan to build a $350 million slots parlor and entertainment complex on Delaware Avenue. The plan outlines a two-phase project: First, an 80,000-sq. ft. facility with 3,000 slot machines, a 2,500-seat theater, and a number of stores and restaurants. Phase two would add a luxurious 500-room luxury hotel. The goal is to create a destination resort. Projections for the first phase include 1,000 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs. An additional 2,000 permanent jobs could be created after the hotel is constructed. When completed, the complex would generate hundreds of millions in local and state tax revenue. This is fantastic news for Philadelphia; great for tourism, the local economy, and for state and City tax coffers. Hail Caesar, Hail Caesar!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Philadelphia High School Provides Shortcut to College

Lamberton High School in Philadelphia’s Overbrook section - assisted by Eastern University - will become the first public school in state history to establish an "early college high school". Under this innovative academic model, students completing four years of high school will simultaneously earn two years of college credit.

This program is an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of its effort to establish early college high schools throughout the country. Students wishing to opt out may transfer from Lamberton, Philadelphia’s only K-12 school. This means means that students outside of the catchment area can apply for any resulting vacancies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Philadelphia University Breaks Ground on New Student Center

On Monday, Philadelphia University in East Falls began constructing a $25 million campus center. This project will be partially funded by the largest donation in school history, provided by Maurice Kanbar, a prolific inventor and founder of the company that makes Skyy Vodka.

72,000 sq. ft. of space are planned, encompassing a 200-seat multi-use room, a store, student life offices, and eating facilities. Philadelphia University - formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science - has 3,100 part and full-time students and was founded in 1884.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Urban Outfitters HQ moving to Navy Yard

Urban Outfitters - a Philadelphia-based retail operation with stores across North America and Europe - is relocating its 500-person headquarters to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The Navy Yard presents the region’s largest business location and development opportunity, with 4 million square feet of existing space and 6,000 employees currently on site.

The company has 71 Urban Outfitters and 62 Anthropologie stores. Urban Outfitters also has another line - Free People - with products in 1,100 retail outlets and at one company-owned Free People store.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

eBay, what took you so long?

After two years of relentless advocacy by Philadelphia's Councilwoman Tasco (representing the 9th Councilmanic District), eBay announced last week that racial slurs used to describe auction items will no longer be allowed. Thanks for the prompt action, eBay.

Largest Philadelphia Marathon Ever

The first Philadelphia Marathon in 1994 had only 200 runners. This year – the 11th running on November 21st - over 10,000 participated. That’s a 5,000% increase. Mike Korir of Kenya won the men’s division in 2:19:43 seconds. Larisa MiChailova – 35 years old - of Russia was victorious in the women’s division in 2:41:57.

Marathon organizers should collaborate with Broad Street and Philadelphia Distance Run staff as well as City officials to create the “Triple Crown of American Road Racing”. Promote all three races as a package deal and offer bigger prize money for competing and placing in all three. It would be great for road racing in Philadelphia and for tourism.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

You’re Fired; but if You’re a Political Ally’s Child, You’re Hired

For government executives, layoffs indicate managerial failure. Failure is usually attributable to your predecessor if you are newly installed. For a second term executive, the responsibility for failure is on you. Mass firings in government result from poor planning. The advisable and humane way to achieve staffing reductions is through attrition and retirement incentive programs. Unfortunately, after inheriting a $300 million dollar surplus from the Rendell Administration, the Street Administration has announced the imminence of 500 layoffs. However, through a curious alignment of financial priorities, the Street Administration has somehow identified budgetary resources to hire a 19-year-old child of City Councilman Juan F. Ramos - a staunch ally of the current administration.

Custom Made Wheels

The Bilenky Cycle Works in Philadelphia is a unique, entrepreneurial gem. From a non-descript location in the City’s Olney section, bicycle artisans build 100 custom bikes annually. Each bike takes about 30 hours to build. Reputation is their best advertisement, with most business coming through word of mouth. Over the last 20 years, Bilenky has created 2,000 two-wheeled masterpieces.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Committee of 70: Help Wanted

The Committee of Seventy, Philadelphia’s oldest and most respected civic watchdog group is looking for a new executive director after thirty years under the direction of their current chief. To keep the organization at its dynamic best, establish a time limit (or a "term limit") for the next executive director so this important organization is infused with new blood on a regular basis and its bite is as good as its bark.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Philadelphia's Regional Economy: "Most Improved"

According to the Milken Institute, Philadelphia is ranked "most improved" among the 10 largest U.S. metro areas as per Milken's economic-performance index. Among these 10 regions, Philadelphia is ranked number three overall - behind Washington and Atlanta. This index measures recent job and wage growth rates and also examines the concentration of high-tech industries. The jump is credited in large part to Philadelphia’s leisure and hospitality industries; fast growing segments of the region’s robust and diverse economy. One gain to the regional economy likely to provide lasting benefits? The recent arrival of Southwest Airlines, which dramatically lowered air transit costs - the kind of thing a business looks for when making location decisions.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Councilman Nutter: Going Down?

Speaking to supporters at Philadelphia’s first major post-election fundraiser, Nutter mused, "I currently work on the fourth floor of City Hall…I'd like to continue in my public service in the future, possibly on a different floor." Nutter’s City Council office is on the fourth floor, while the Mayor sits on the second floor of City Hall. This well-attended event on the 33rd floor of the Lowe’s Hotel in Center City included Councilman James Kenney, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, and Councilman Rick Mariano. The fund-raiser was the Councilman's most successful ever.

Historic Smith Playground Renovation

Commerce Bank is contributing $100,000 to fund renovations at the Smith Playground, a free playground near 33rd and Oxford Streets that opened in 1899. The playhouse and 12-ft-wide wooden slide have delighted generations of children. The renovation project requires $2.5 million in order to reopen the playground for the summer season. Currently, they are about halfway there and making substantial progress toward their fundraising goals.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Ground Broken for School of the Future

Ground was broken today in West Philadelphia for the nation's first "school of the future", an innovative collaboration between the School District of Philadelphia and Microsoft. When completed, 700 students will be ensconced in a unique learning environment that will comprehensively integrate technology into the school's educational and operational structure.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Bowling for Yuppies

No fewer than three upscale bowling alleys are coming to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. One in University City, another downtown, and a third in Northern Liberties. The first of these - "Strikes" will be a 12-lane alley with a bar and restaurant. It will be located at the old Urban Outfitters site at 4040 Locust St. in University City; expect to see the first pins knocked over and cosmopolitans consumed in January 2005.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

City of Philadelphia Triathlon

Registration has commenced for the City of Philadelphia Triathlon, taking place on June 26, 2005. This is an Olympic distance race - 1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run - that will travel through historic & beautiful areas of Philadelphia. Entrants will be limited to 1,000. This is a USAT sanctioned event.

Philadelphia Construction Boom

For the first time in over a decade, Philadelphia will be hosting a “topping out” ceremony for a new skyscraper, the 28-story, 728,000 square-foot Cira Center built next to Amtrak's 30th Street Station in University City. In close proximity to Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, this structure is the first major office tower on the west side of the Schuylkill River.

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