August 29: Out-of-towners investing in Philly | Panama Canal to Packer Ave | Terrace Hall

Jacob Adelman has a look at why out-of-town investors are increasingly finding opportunity in Center City. Philly still has the twin drawbacks of persistent poverty and a steep wage tax, but some investors see opportunity in Center City’s “rising rents and low vacancy rates, which promised solid gains when paired with development costs low in comparison with more established markets. ‘There are opportunities to get returns in Philadelphia that the prices in San Francisco and New York make it difficult to get,’ [National Real Estate’s Daniel] Killinger said.”

What’s the deeper Panama Canal got to do with Philly? Bigger ships than ever at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. The Inquirer reports Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) is bringing four ‘Panamax’ ships through Philadelphia weekly, with double its former capacity, thanks to a dredging project to prepare the port for bigger ships that the expanded canal can accommodate. MSC brings fruit and dry goods from Chile and Peru to Philly, and from Philly it will bring products like metals, clay and paper to Northern European ports. MSC’s ships running from Philadelphia to Antwerp and Rotterdam are faster than other North Atlantic cargo lines, giving Philly an advantage, particularly with perishable cargo.

Can Manayunk’s Terrace Hall be saved? Once again there’s a race between developers who want to tear down an unprotected historic building and historians who have filed a last-ditch effort to nominate the building to the Philadelphia Register. As Hidden City’s Michael Bixler reports, there’s a very live question as to whether demolition permits and notice were adequate, and just when the Historical Commission may take up the nomination.

By 2022 Amtrak is aiming to put 28 of next-generation Acela train sets on the Northeast Corridor to help speed service. Vice President Joe Biden helped announce the news at Wilmington’s Biden Station, and NewsWorks’ Nichelle Polston shares the story. 

Amtrak is converting its familiar flipboard sign at 30th Street Station to turn LED in the name of easier maintenance, greater customization, and the ability to display more information, the Inquirer reports. Columnist Mike Newall penned a tribute to the passing of this sound of the station.

Chicago artist Jim Bachor fills potholes with mosaic art, and thanks to HAHAxParadigm he swung through Philly to install a few, Samantha Melamed reports.

Fivethirtyeight took a look at the impact of Airbnb on city rental markets. Philly ranks last in listings, share of “commercial” rentals, and revenues. Commercial in this case was used to describe rentals that were a whole unit or house and booked for 180 days or more. The upside, Airbnb is not taking a big bite out of the total number of units otherwise rentable to long-term tenants for short stays instead. 

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