Philadelphia is “significantly behind” peer cities in “protecting historic resources and incentivizing preservation,” according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Hidden City Philadelphia has the scoop from a Historic Preservation Task Force meeting held last week in West Philadelphia. Mayor Jim Kenney’s created the task force last year in response to mounting conflicts as developers snap up more and more of the city’s historic building stock, charging the 33-member body with building “a stronger environment for preservation even as the city welcomes new growth and development.” Last week’s meeting drew nearly 100 people, Hidden City reports, indicating that the task force is at least making progress on one goal: creating a more open, inclusive and community-engaged conversation about what gets saved and what doesn’t.
What happens to public parks during a government shutdown? Trails can remain open, but no services, like trash pickup or park rangers, will be present. WHYY News’ Peter Crimmins looks at Independence Mall, where disappointed tourists do the best they could this weekend, lining up to see the Liberty Bell through the window.
Over in Mantua, Inga Saffron takes us to artist James Dupree’s exuberantly decorated studio building by 37th and Haverford, in the middle of the site where the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority wanted to put a suburban-style supermarket. Saffron looks at the developer Charles Lomax’s new “more urban” plans for the site, which still need the approval of the Mantua Civic Association, as well a height variance from the Zoning Board.
Odds are, that variance will sail through the city’s zoning appeals court whether neighbors like it or not, reports Jake Blumgart. In 2017, the Zoning Board approved 92 percent of variance requests, according to city data published in a new draft report from the City Planning Commission. Whether the tendency to green-light projects is a sign of a broken system or a thriving, growing city depends on who you ask, Blumgart finds. No matter where you fall on the debate, the new data indicates that city’s built environment is changing and the market is driving the new look.
Speaking of new looks, PECO is undergoing an “aggressive tree trimming project” across its multi-county service territory, CBS Philly reports. Every five years, PECO goes past routine trimming and will cut trees down as a way to prevent outages before they happen. A PECO spokesperson says trimming reduces outages 20 to 30 percent, and that they spent $41 million in vegetation management last year.
In Seattle, NPR affiliate KUOW looks at the top 20 finalist cities for the HQ2 ‘beauty pageant,’ and share their list of favorite contenders. The reporters speak with PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa about Philadelphia’s bid and why the not-quite-underdog city —Yay Eagles — may have a chance. Meanwhile, critics like Green Philly Blog caution cities to remember Amazon’s track record in job creation, job ‘destruction,’ and philanthropy.