‘Disneyland on the Delaware’ | Ritz 5 redevelopment | Pieces of St. Boniface live on | PHDC could incorporate land bank | AVI still imperative

Good morning, Streeters. If you’re wondering if we somehow bypassed winter with a turn of the calendar – today and tomorrow promise to be pretty warm days – enjoy it while you can: Meteorologists are predicting a pretty snowy, cold winter coming soon.

Retired Daily News reporter Ron Avery calls the revival of greater Center City “Disneyland on the Delaware,” in an opinion piece Friday. Avery reminds us that so much of Philadelphia’s resurgence is highly concentrated, and a shadow of the city’s former self. “Philadelphia encompasses 134 square miles; that wonderful core, with all its fancy restaurants and young professionals, covers only four or five of them,” he writes. “So, if factories and jobs and teenagers have disappeared, and if the ghettos are plagued by violence, drugs, and despair, why do so many think Philadelphia is so vibrant? Because they’re ignoring most of the city’s 129 square miles. And because the healthy part of the city has become a sort of playground for the suburban bored.”

Will the Ritz 5 building on Dock Street be razed to make way for more (but smaller yet fancier) theaters, topped by a 14-story apartment complex? PlanPhilly’s Kellie Patrick Gates reports that Mosaic Development Partners recently floated those ideas before the Society Hill Civic Association’s Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee, emphasizing that these ideas are very preliminary.

St. Boniface Catholic Church on Norris Square was demolished this year by the Norris Square Civic Association to make way for a new housing development, but pieces of the historic church have found new life, reports the Inquirer. At the new Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Church in Limerick, St. Boniface’s 37-foot high marble altar, pipe organ, confessionals, and a wooden wall have been reused, among other salvaged elements from closed Catholic facilities across the region (including stained glass windows from St. Clement Church in Southwest Philly).

The future citywide land bank could be housed within the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp. (PHDC), the Inquirer reports. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s John Carpenter and PHDC’s Michael Koonce are studying how such a structure might work within PHDC. Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez’s land bank bill will likely be considered by City Council in the new year.

A new Pew report on the challenges of implementing property tax reform should not give City Council cold feet, the Daily News editorializes today. The Actual Value Initiative does, however, have some thorny problems that need to be untangled, including the state requirement that all types of property (commercial, residential, industrial) tax rates be uniform, and the need for adequate resources to perform precise property tax assessments annually.


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