February 23: PA budget standoff delaying developments | MOTU reborn as OTIS | Median trash can parking

The state budget crisis is delaying RACP funding for several large Philly development projects, reports Jacob Adelman, and developers say they may have to scale back or change their plans if they don’t get funding soon. Carl Dranoff tells Adelman he might have to build only the condos in the SLS Lux hotel and condo project on South Broad Street, and projects “from the Gallery at Market East redevelopment to the 3.0 University Place office building in University City, from the Chinatown Community Center mixed-use tower to the Viaduct Rail Park north of Center City” are on hold until state lawmakers pass last year’s budget.

MOTU has become OTIS under Jim Kenney. Formerly the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, the department has been renamed the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems. The name change reflects two changes: (1) Kenney’s move away from Mayor’s Offices and the Deputy Mayor structure in favor of a stronger Managing Director, and (2) an emphasis on “systems” signals a view of streets, multimodal networks, and utilities as interconnected. Even more speculatively, Kenney—a noted rap fan—may be signaling a preference for Watch the Throne over Kanye West’s more recent offerings.

Bradley Maule recounts the glory of Fleer’s decades-long reign over the bubblegum/baseball card industry from North Philadelphia at Hidden City. “Fleer’s first attempt at bubble gum, Blibber-Blubber, failed because it was difficult to chew and, worse, it stuck to people’s faces after blowing a bubble. A young accountant remedied that. In 1928, 23-year-old Walter Diemer experimented after hours at Fleer with gum formulas until he produced a batch that was stretchy and less sticky. The batch was gray, so he added pink dye, the only color available at the time. Bubble gum was born.”

You’ve heard of cars parking in the median on Broad Street and Oregon Avenue. But did you know that people also use the Oregon Avenue median to store their trash cans? Taylor Farnsworth wants to know how this can possibly be allowed.

The Spirit of Penn’s Garden is alive! After a successful crowdfunding effort, the hyperlocal news site we rely on for on-the-ground coverage of the Riverwards has extended their reach westward to neighborhoods like Brewerytown, Cecil B. Moore, Poplar, Francisville, Fairmount, and more. Here is one of their first stories, on The Lenni—a residential and community space Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation is developing as part of their Comprehensive Corridor Revitalization Initiative for Ridge Avenue. 

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