Feb 21: Scofflaw billboards | the $1500 club | towers get AVI break | 15th Street El station mess | Drexel and Temple’s plush new dorms

Good morning, Streeters. Here’s your Thursday morning Buzz:

Multitudes of Philadelphia billboards violate local zoning and/or the Federal Highway Beautification Act, according to a new study by Scenic Philadelphia. PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports that the study of billboards along 95, 76, and 676 found that low percentages of billboards were compliant with local, state, or federal regulations and lax enforcement of the laws on the books. One part of the local problem: The city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections doesn’t seem to have an inventory of permitted and licensed billboards in the city limits.

Are you in the $1,500 club? Writing for Next City, Patrick Kerkstra explores what could happen in neighborhoods like Graduate Hospital where property taxes are expected to jump by about $1,500 or more. Will the prospect of paying $1,000 or $2,000 more in taxes discourage the young professionals buying houses in hot neighborhoods? Will housing demand be pushed to neighborhoods like Roxborough where taxes will go down? And even with flaws in the new assessments, he writes, the new valuations are “much closer to reality than the old ones.” And that’s a good thing in terms of tax fairness.

Do the new AVI assessments undervalue the city’s big office towers, giving some a big tax break? Philly Deals explores why the Comcast Center tower is suddenly valued at about $200-million (less than half of what it sold for in 2007), and how average Center City office towers could on average see a 20% reduction in taxes for towers. Could these lower taxes actually help draw tenants to fill office vacancies downtown in the near future?

Thanks to the reconstruction of Dilworth Plaza, SEPTA’s 15th Street Station on the Market-Frankford El is a maze of scaffolding, topped with leaky tarps. PlanPhilly’s Christine Fisher checked in on the unpleasant state of the platforms, where work will continue for the next few months.

Drexel and Temple’s new dorms are plush, outfitted with swanky furniture, flat screen TVs, double beds, lounges, and real kitchen spaces. The common goal: “an ingathering from the neighborhoods, a reinjection of residential life on campus,” reports the Inquirer. “Where Drexel sees its new dormitory complex as urbanizing Chestnut Street and helping Powelton Village, Temple sees its complex as bringing critical mass to the idea of a full-fledged residential campus.”

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

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal