Feb 27: Johnson’s Point Breeze strategy shifts to rehab | new revenue collection chief | SouthBowl for Oregon Ave | Independence NHP impact | Philly ranks 4th in creative-class freelance wages

Happy Wednesday, Streeters. Despite the fog and mist, it almost feels like spring today, no? Here’s what’s making news this morning:

Remember how Councilman Kenyatta Johnson got the Redevelopment Authority to use eminent domain to seize 17 lots in Point Breeze as a means to stimulate affordable housing development? In an apparent strategy shift City Paper reports that Councilman Johnson wants to rehab city-owned vacant houses. “We thought it would be a better idea to find city-owned shells in our district and rehab them instead of taking more properties onto the city inventory,” said Steven Cobb, Johnson’s legislative aide. These projects will be financed through a $2.2 million Qualified Redevelopment Bond, which is a pool of money left over from the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative.

Mayor Nutter wants to create a chief revenue-collections officer in the Department of Finance, the Daily News reports. It’s an attempt to improve the city’s budget without cutting jobs or raising taxes. The idea is to improve the city’s collection of fees for services like commercial trash collection or medical transport and centralize collections in one office. The result could be $85 million in savings and revenue over five years.

The folks behind the Northern Liberties bowling complex NorthBowl are finally expanding to South Philly, after two years of anticipation. Passyunk Post reports that SouthBowl will open at Front and Oregon this fall. The former Thomas Colace produce distribution warehouse will be reused (with an addition) to house the new bowling alley/restaurant and bar. Rumor is that outdoor batting cages are possible.

According to a new University of Michigan report commissioned by the National Park Service demonstrates the positive economic impact of Independence National Historical Park.  Independence NHP had 3.59 million visitors in 2011 who spent more than $151 million, supporting 2,103 jobs. All of those visitors were responsible for about $13 billion in direct spending in the Philadelphia area. Of course that economic impact will be lost if the federal sequester goes into effect. Park officials say they the sequester would be forced to close half of their 16 buildings.

If self-employment is the “Industrial Revolution of our time”, it’s heartening to see this stat in a Richard Florida piece on the Atlantic Cities: Philly’s “creative class” freelancers have the fourth highest median hourly wage ($25.21), ranking behind only San Jose, Washington DC, and Boston. Now if only we had benefits that caught up with the way so many of us work.

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

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