December 22: Trump inscrutable on infrastructure | Port’s money ship comes in | Billboard bait-n-switch?

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Trying to read the tea leaves with the President-elect is a fool’s errand, but failing to prepare for the future is folly. As the AP reports, the signals now suggest that Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress won’t lead off with a massive infrastructure bill. Where will they point tomorrow? 

Christmas came early to the Port of Philadelphia thanks to Santa Wolf, reports Katie Colaneri. When private developers backed out of proposals to develop the “Southport” area next to the Navy Yard, Gov. Tom Wolf stepped in with a $300 million contingency plan last month. Environmentalists cheered the Plan B investment, happy to see plans for fossil fuel facilities go up in smoke. According to backers, this backup plan will create 9,000 new job and pay back for the $292 million investment out of increased cash flows. That sounds so unbelievably good, you’d wonder why they ever bothered with private company proposals in the first place.

Billboard mogul Dominick Cipollini is offering Pennsport a trade: He’ll replace a cold-cut distribution facility on Front Street between Reed and Wharton with a bright and shiny new set of apartments and offices…if they let him a 120-foot digital billboard on top. Jacob Adelman reports that the apartment-and-billboard proposal would require City Council to rezone the property. Once rezoned, however, there would be little the City could do to ensure that Cipollini built everything he says he will, and not just the billboard. Cipollini proposes 48 apartments, four townhouses, and 30,000 feet of retail and office space across five stories for the I-95 adjacent space, all topped by the potentially federal-law-breaking billboard.  

Calling all “experienced local artisans, architects, designers, and makers”, the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia wants YOU to build: “a modular, multi-purpose outdoor furniture element” for the City Hall Courtyard. The RFP calls this a “feature” to be “designed for outdoor use to support current and new programs and activities, last for a minimum of two years, and call attention to the historic relationship the site of City Hall has to water in Philadelphia.” Sounds like a stage to me, but I’m no artisan/maker. Fun Fact: Before there was City Hall, there was the Centre Square Pump House, the city’s first waterworks, which was designed with Rome’s Pantheon in mind. Bonus Fun Fact: Centre Square Pump House would be a great name for a bar featuring lots of hand-pumped cask ales.

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