Brandywine To Build 47-Story FMC Tower In University City

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FMC Corp. has agreed to move its headquarters from 1745 Market St. in Center City into the new tower that Brandywine Realty Trust has been trying to build, NE corner of 30th and Walnut Sts. in University City, for the past 5 years. The $341 million FMC Tower will rise 47 stories — 650 feet — and include 575,000 sq ft of offices, 10,000 sq ft of retail — plus 260 apartments. Adjoins a 2,000-space parking garage built by Brandywine that also serves IRS workers at Brandywine’s former 30th St post office nearby.

FMC will move its headquarters staff — currently 546 bosses and workers — to the new tower by June 2016, spokesman Jim Fitzwater told me. FMC will lease 253,000 sq ft for 16 years; the University of Pennsylvania will rent another 100,000 sq ft on four floors for 20 years.


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East Chestnut’s Revival Could Get Huge Boost From Big Project

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The way John Columbo saw it, East Chestnut Street in Center City was a ghetto. From 8th to 13th, the once-beautiful and bustling street brimmed with empty storefronts with graffitied windows and bottom-feeder businesses like dollar stores and check-cashing joints. Drug dealers jockeyed with street hustlers for sidewalk space.

It was the perfect place, he and his business partner Mike Lewis decided six years ago, for their gourmet cupcake bakery, Philly Cupcake. “You look at what everybody else is doing and do the opposite – place luxury right in the center of the ghetto,” Columbo said of their business philosophy.

While a few other brave merchants followed their lead, the changes weren’t always positive and a rebirth remained elusive, Columbo said. A sex shop moved in a few doors away and filled its storefront windows with space-age vibrators and near-naked mannequins to tempt passers-by. Farther east, some cheered the closure of the old Funk-o-Mart electronics store, only to see another dollar store move in.

“They want this to be Woolworth’s, and we’re trying to be more Chanel,” Columbo said of the battle to revitalize Chestnut Street.


Hazelwood Redevelopment Growing

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Urban Redevelopment Authority board Thursday authorized entering into exclusive negotiations with ACTION-Housing and Telesis Corp., which have partnered to buy the Spahr Building on Second Avenue in Hazelwood and create a cultural center for the faith-based neighborhood nonprofit Center of Life and a restaurant and/or catering business.

In a second phase, ACTION-Housing and Telesis propose to buy 25 vacant URA-owned lots in one block on each side of Second Avenue, between Hazelwood and Flowers avenues, to build new housing and retail space. The board approved an 18-month negotiation period for that project, “a longer period because we want the public to be engaged in the process,” said Tom Cummings, director of housing for the URA.

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West Hazleton Could Drop Financially Distressed Status By 2014

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

West Hazleton could shed its financially distressed status under Act 47 in early 2014, its recovery plan coordinator said.

While a pair of councilmen say the borough has made strides improving its finances, they caution that challenges await as the borough will be strapped with $250,000 payments for the next four to five years for paying debt that accumulated under previous administrations.

“We did a fantastic job,” Councilman James “Bucky” Kulaga said of the borough’s financial turnaround. “But we’re not out of the woods, yet.”

Joe Boyle of Pennsylvania Economy League – the borough’s recovery plan coordinator – believes West Hazleton will join a half-dozen other Pennsylvania communities that have worked their way out of Act 47.

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Urban Outfitters Adding 2,500 Jobs In Region

English: The Urban Outfitters store in Union S...

English: The Urban Outfitters store in Union Square, San Francisco. Español: El Urban Outfitters tienda en Union Square de San Francisco. Français : Le magasin Urban Outfitters à Union Square, San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Urban Outfitters, the iconic purveyor of hip clothing and housewares, is expanding its Philadelphia headquarters and adding a mail-order facility in Lancaster County.

The expansion will ultimately mean an additional 2,000 jobs in the city and another 500 in Gap, according to Richard Hayne, Urban Outfitter’s founder and chief executive officer.


Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Rehabs Wood Street Facades

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, the three nondescript buildings on Wood Street rarely drew a second glance, let alone a first. Now, after nearly $1 million in renovations, some folks can’t believe what they’re seeing.

“Some of them were trying to get photographs of what they looked like before because they didn’t believe they had walked by these buildings without noticing them,” architect Milton Ogot said of a few friends and colleagues and even some passersby.

In some cases, people “kind of assumed we took down the existing facade and replaced it with a new one.”

Once the plainest of Janes in a drab stretch of Wood between Fourth and Forbes avenues, the “three sisters” now stand out like diamonds on black velvet, thanks to the work of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

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