Feb 13: Casino pitch blitz | arson at Temple | NJ Transit studies Bus Rapid Transit | 40th and Pine update | AVI burdens

Good morning, Streeters. Don’t be fooled by the lovely day we saw yesterday or this morning’s spots of blue sky: we’re in for a rain and snow later. Here’s what’s making news this Wednesday morning: 

PlanPhilly’s Kellie Patrick Gates was on hand for hours of casino hearings before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board yesterday and offers this excellent roundup of the six casino team presentations. The Inquirer explained that the proposals neatly split into two groups: the sites toward the casinos offering standard-issue casino-hotel plans seen throughout the state and Blatstein’s The Provence, Wynn Philadelphia, and Market 8 each expensive and promising to be true destinations beyond slot-boxes. The Daily News reports that Steve Wynn sees Bart Blatstein as his only real competition. Public-input hearings are scheduled for April 11 and 12.

An arsonist is wanted for setting several fires this week at a Temple University construction site, reports the Inquirer. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the fires at Morgan Hall, the new dorm being built at Broad and Cecil B. Moore.

Studies are advancing NJ Transit’s plan to add bus rapid transit (BRT) connecting South Jersey and Philadelphia, reports the Inquirer. At its meeting today, NJ Transit’s board is expected to approve a contract to conduct an environmental study of the BRT route along Route 55, Route 42, and I-676. The bus rapid transit system would give buses traffic signal priority and during rush hour buses would travel in dedicated lanes, on highway shoulders and medians along the route to Philadelphia. Construction could begin in 2014 on the $46 million project.

Expect two more hearings before the L&I Review Board in the preservation hardship appeal of 40th and Pine, a Penn-owned historic-but-mangled Italianate villa. The appeal of the hardship finding, brought before the L&I Review Board by neighbors, continued Tuesday when final witnesses were called, reports PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey. Future hearings will cover closing arguments and the board’s decision.

It’s not just gentrified neighborhoods that will get heftier property tax bills under the Actual Value Initiative, up-and-coming neighborhoods will feel the pinch too, according to an analysis by the City Controller’s office. As Daily News reports, any relief to longtime residents who would be burdened by the increases would mean hiking the tax rate, shifting the burden to others. That’s why Councilman Bill Green wants get rid of the proposed $30,000 homestead exemption, NewsWorks explains.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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