April 2: Zoo by rail? | Department of Making + Doing opening | Northeastern Title and Trust transformation | campaign in support of Denise Scott Brown | AVI and abatements | Italian Market name change?

Good morning, Streeters. Here’s what’s making news:

Will we be able to ride the train to the zoo again? Rail service to the zoo stopped in 1902, but the Inquirer reports that the Philadelphia Zoo is serious about trying to bring regional rail back to the zoo. A zoo-sponsored feasibility study recommends a new regional rail station at 34th Street and Mantua Avenue, which would serve zoo visitors as well as residents of Parkside, Mantua, Powelton and Brewerytown. SEPTA does not have the projected $60 million to build a new station there, but zoo officials vow to work with SEPTA planners and pledge to help secure funding (likely from the federal government). 

The Department of Making + Doing, a joint space for Tiny WPA, The Hacktory, and Breadboard, will open this month in NextFab Studio’s former space at 3711 Market. Flying Kite reports that the three groups will use the space for outreach and educational activities, thanks in part to high-tech tools left behind by NextFab.

On Hidden City Daily GroJLart explains how the Northeastern Title and Trust tower was transformed from the Kensington’s “tower of blight” into a community asset. After its useful life as a bank and office tower expired, Impact Services acquired and worked to renovate the building in stages. The rehabbed lower floors became home to Esperanza Health Center in 2007, and now the vacant upper stories are undergoing renovation to accommodate an expansion by Esperanza.

When Robert Venturi was honored with the 1991 Pritzker Architecture Prize his wife and design partner Denise Scott Brown was mightily snubbed when the jury only awarded the prestigious prize to Venturi. But, as Inga Saffron reports, an online campaign started by two Harvard architecture students is building support for Denise Scott Brown’s retroactive Pritzker Prize inclusion. Saffron writes: “The renewed focus on Scott Brown’s shoddy treatment has caused some to question how a prize for innovation can perpetuate regressive attitudes about women.” [View and sign the petition on change.org.]  

Why will property owners enjoying the city’s 10-year tax abatement see their taxes drop even further under AVI? Using Northern Liberties as an example Axis Philly’s Isaiah Thompson explains that the new assessments dramatically undervalue the cost of land, which is what owners of abated properties pay taxes on.

Daily News columnist Helen Ubinas wonders if it’s time to change the Italian Market’s name to reflect the market’s evolving mix of Latino and Asian businesses.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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