December 23: End in sight for PA budget | 23-story tower for South Broad | Cashless tolling

In an unexpected twist in the PA budget saga, a group of moderate House Republicans joined House Democrats in a parliamentary maneuver to advance the $30.8 billion budget framework supported by Governor Tom Wolf and Senate Republicans. Chris Palmer reports the motion passed 100-99, and a full vote could happen before Christmas. The House is still waiting on a Tax Code bill from the Senate with $700 million in yet-unspecified revenues, so we’re not out of the woods yet. 

Carl Dranoff presented plans for a 23-story mixed-use hotel and apartment building at the corner of Broad and Pine streets to the Washington Square West Civic Association last night, reports James Jennings. Dranoff plans to pursue a legislative rezoning of the site, now occupied by a retail-fronted parking garage.

“According to the OIG’s analysis,  L + I properly administered the demolition inspection process in approximately 22 percent of sampled permits,” Michael Nutter said in a press conference yesterday regarding the findings of a new report on the department’s inspections record. Inspector General Amy Kurland tells Tom MacDonald the agency’s outdated computer system bears some of the blame. 

Cashless tolling will begin January 3rd on the PA Turnpike bridge over the Delaware River. “Drivers without E-ZPass will pay through a system that will snap a photo of the vehicle’s license plate and mail a bill to the vehicle owner.”

Larry Steinberg of CBRE tells Suzette Parmley that Target’s venture into slimmed-down urban-format stores is cost-effective because “[i]t gives Target access to the dense populations of Center City without the need to provide huge parking fields – with lots of expensive land – that is required by their large-format stores.”

Over at Hidden City, GroJLart is out with a top 10 list of the most unduly neglected buildings around Center City that are ripe for adaptive reuse and redevelopment. 

Competition from app-based ride-hailing companies has been shrinking taxi medallion values, and Liz Farmer looks at the impact that’s having on banks who make medallion loans. The flipside is that lower medallion values also mean higher real wages for cab drivers, as medallion owners (typically not active drivers) lower their rents. Ronald Blount of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania says cab drivers want to see the medallion system fall, at whatever cost.”

David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington thinks traffic safety cameras in DC could be more effective by aspiring to a “swift, certain, and fair” standard. Specifically, he prescribes allowing more total cameras, more neighborhood cameras, lowering fines, and sending tickets to drivers more quickly. 

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