Happy President’s Day 2012: Divination of Washington, ownership of Philly’s transit infrastructure, city’s hotel demand, Independence Hall clock tower rings again, debating PGW sale

Happy President’s Day, Streeters. Like you, Eyes on the Street is taking it easy today, eating cherry pie to honor Washington and rereading Lincoln’s second inaugural addressPhillyHistory Blog is celebrating President’s Day by looking at the divination of George Washington and all of the swag created to glorify the first president in death, from art to instant coffee.

Should SEPTA or the city own transit infrastructure? NewsWorks reports that the city owns the Broad Street Line, half of the Market-Frankford El, and other transit assets. The Inquirer explains that the ownership itself is debated, since SEPTA’s lease expired in 2005. Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr. will be holding hearings on the issue. Goode sees the opportunity to make money from the city’s ownership, but SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney reminded NewsWorks, “People have to realize the financial realities of operating the El and Broad Street, that it costs almost exactly twice as much to run the lines as the revenue that it generates.”

Just how many hotel rooms does Philly need? After the Convention Center expanded, experts projected that the city needed to add 2,000 more rooms, but that’s been slow-going. With two new hotels under construction, the Business Journal asked industry experts if 2000 more rooms was a realistic target. Most came back with a reduced number. Steph Rosenfeld said Philly should be leery of chasing other convention cities, and instead “be a leader in the second tier.” He added, “After all, an expanded convention center is only as viable as the ability to keep its calendar at peak bookings on an ongoing basis.”

After 18 months of restoration construction, the scaffolding on Independence Hall’s tower is down and on Saturday the Centennial Bell rang again as the clock was restarted. The Inquirer was on hand and reports the tower restoration project cost $4.4 million in federal stimulus money.

Selling off PGW is going to be tricky. Sunday’s Inquirer unpacks the complexities, from the right kind of buyer, profitability expectations, and timing. And today’s Inquirer goes point/counterpoint on the sale, weighing the possible revenue a PGW sale could generate against virtually zero benefit to consumers.


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