August 20: Uber hires Obama campaign architect | Dilworth Plaza opens Sept 4th | Point Breeze homes more expensive with parking | Early signs of home building recovery

David Plouffe, the architect of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, has been hired by ride-sharing company Uber as senior Vice President of policy and strategy, to head up “global policy and political activities, communications, and Uber branding efforts.” Hiring a prominent Democrat with a large store of good will with the “rising American electorate” voters who elected Obama seems like a shrewd political move at a time when the Republican Party sees an upside in turning ride-sharing into a partisan issue, and some labor-aligned groups within the Democratic Party would be happy to let them. 

Dilworth Plaza will open September 4th. It will have a cafe by Jose Garces, which will have a liquor license, but potables will be forbidden outside the cafe area, because this is Pennsylvania. “Garces will also have a liquor license, which means alcoholic beverages can be served after 5pm. He mentioned that visitors can have a mojito on the park, but will have to stay within the cafe or on the outdoor terrace area overlooking the fountain — shucks.”

Atlantic City’s Showboat and Revel casinos will shut down over Labor Day weekend. As Kellie Patrick Gates reported, PA’s gaming control board isn’t allowed to consider the recent turmoil in the local gambling economy in their deliberations over the issuance of a new casino license in Philadelphia.

Some of the neighbors opposing OCF Realty’s proposal for 22 homes at 20th and Wharton have complained about both a lack of affordable housing and a lack of parking, perhaps without realizing that those demands are in conflict. Adding parking to the project increases the construction cost of the homes by about $25,000 each, and the selling price by $48,000, according to an analysis by economist Kevin Gillen. Amortized over 30 years, that’s about $133 extra per month tacked onto the mortgage for a parking space the eventual resident may not even want. Non-car mode share in this Census tract is 40.1%, which is high for the neighborhood. In the Census tracts bordering it, non-car mode share is 50.1%, 56.7%, and 60.8%. It’s possible some of the car-free people in this area want to own cars in the future, but there still seems to be a pretty large market here for housing without bundled parking.

Housing construction is picking up nationally, which is good news for job growth. Typically a rebound in housing construction has been what leads us out of economic recessions (amazing graph on this), but what’s been strange about the last few years is how many jobs have been recovered in spite of the lack of housing recovery. Imagine what Philly’s job market might look like just returning to average rates of housing construction.

Speaking of parking logic, Duncan Black thinks more city business owners skittish about street parking need to do the math on how much business the parking space in front of the building is realistically bringing in. “Optimistically that 180 sq. feet might, on average, house a vehicle that brought in 2 people to your retail district. There is just no room for all people to journey in only by car, unless you build mall sized parking lots.”

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