August 8: Friends of Clark Park supports 4224 Baltimore | DAs office aggressively seizes houses | from Hippodrome to Villa | Feeling Use & Occupancy Tax hike | WaPo on More Park, Less Way

Good morning, Streeters. It may be a humid and stormy Thursday out there, but there are predictions for a nice weekend ahead. Here’s your morning Buzz:

Friends of Clark Park has come out in support of 4224 Baltimore, the proposed 108-unit building planned adjacent to the park. West Philly Local reports that Friends of Clark Park supports the project with some conditions: that the park-oriented side of the building be “low and inviting”; the design should include green features; retail space should be community-oriented; and there should be some co-op units amid the project’s rentals to “support a desirable owner-renter balance.”

In the process of collecting evidence for drug crimes, Philadelphia District Attorney’s office aggressively moves to seize real estate, often belonging to innocent people, long before anyone is proven guilty in a process known as “civil asset forfeiture.” In a follow-up to his City Paper story last year, Isaiah Thompson reports for ProPublica that “Philadelphia uses forfeiture on a scale and in a way unlike any other county in Pennsylvania.” State law permits law enforcement officials to seize a suspect’s personal property – from cash to real estate – as evidence, which then typically becomes a revenue source for their department. Forfeiture disproportionately affects poor, black, and Latino residents and often touches homeowners who do not commit the crimes in question.

On the 600 block of South Street, Naked Philly traces the newly opened Villa store, back through its past lives. Before it was a Walgreens or Tower Records it was the Ripley Music Hall and Hippodrome before that.

Remember how City Council hiked the Use & Occupancy Tax for commercial properties this year as a way to increase funding for the Philadelphia School District? The Business Journal reports that their share of U&O taxes at 400 Market Streets doubled. The fear has been that these increased taxes will “serve as a deterrent for companies to stay or locate in Philadelphia as well as stymie future development.”

The Washington Post visited the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to discuss More Park, Less Way, the plan developed by PennPraxis [PlanPhilly’s publisher] for the city to enliven the Parkway’s underused spaces to draw more people to the Parkway.

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