August 16: PRA wants ‘social impact’ development for 8th and Race | Speed cushions foiled | TOD at Frankford Transportation Center

The Redevelopment Authority put out a request for proposals for the surface parking lot at 8th and Race, next to the Broad-Ridge spur SEPTA station, and for the first time, they’re asking prospective developers to demonstrate some type of social impact, says Jared Brey. That could be affordable housing, minority business participation, job creation, support for community organizations, or some other side benefit. Gregory Heller, PRA’s new director, built his company American Communities Trust around social impact real estate investment, and last year he gave a TEDxPhilly talk on the subject, so it’s no surprise to see him leveraging Redevelopment Authority RFPs to entice other developers to move in this direction. 

Does the new apartment bidding platform Biddley help or hurt renters? Bids are sealed, so it’s not like an auction, but some tenant advocates in Vancouver worry about giving landlords greater latitude to shop for tenants. The site’s proponents counter that the rental market is an information backwater, and more information will likely help renters, since landlords frequently don’t know what’s an appropriate asking rent. That’s the premise of Philadelphia-based company RentHub, which helps apartment owners figure out how to adjust prices. On the other side, a Temple grad created a landlord-rating app in 2014 called WhoseYourLandlord that is like Yelp for landlords. It’s still a little murky how or whether the information revolution will impact rental markets, although one thing seems clear: The ratio of dwellings to prospective tenants is the biggest factor determining the balance of market power, and this is substantially impacted by zoning, not apps.

Northern Liberties resident Paul Cherashore documented drivers swerving around the new speed cushions, sometimes at high speeds, on N. 5th Street between Fairmount and Girard.

Frankford CDC landed a grant to study a possible transit-oriented development district around the Frankford Transportation Center, the Frankford Gazette reports. The award of $132,755 will go toward a transportation study of the area around the Frankford Transportation Center, SEPTA surface employee parking lot at Griscom and Pratt Streets, and the parcel at Frankford Avenue and Pratt Street where SEPTA is currently constructing their ancillary control center and employee facilities.”

Alex Dodds says U.S. DOT’s proposed new traffic formula is stuck in the 1950’s. “This approach rewards roads that move the most vehicles rather than the most people. That might work well for interstate highways, but it quickly breaks down when applied to streets within cities, towns, or neighborhoods.”

The W Hotel team shares a video of “the largest continuous mat foundation pour in the history of Philadelphia” at 15th and Chestnut, referring to the concrete foundation. Historic!

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