Jan. 2: University Ave Bridge closure | 16th Street gas leak | Electric Factory bogus ad-wrap | Eminent domain in East Kensington

Good morning and Happy New Year, Streeters. We hope you enjoyed peaceful holidays and a festive New Year’s celebration. Eyes on the Street is back at it today, but moving a bit slowly due to a nasty cold that seems to be going around. Please bear with us. For now, this morning’s Buzz:

Starting today the University Avenue Bridge will be closed for approximately three weeks for repairs and painting, reports West Philly Local. That means detours for the 12,576 vehicles that use the historic bridge daily. PennDOT announced that the project costs $2,077,371, and is financed entirely through state funds.

Early this morning a transformer below 16th and Market streets blew up and caused a gas leak. Philly.com reports that the leak forced the closure of 16th Street between Chestnut and Walnut and the evacuation of the Oakwood Apartments.

Tom Ferrick offers five reasons why the building-size advertising wrap planned for the Electric Factory is a bogus idea: We’re rewarding a scofflaw property owner with revenue, it’s spot zoning, it’s a violation of state and federal law, it benefits a few schools at the expense of many, it undercuts our faith in City Council.

Property owners in East Kensington are upset at the city’s use of eminent domain to condemn and take 20 parcels along Bodine and Cadwallader streets. But property owners may only be able to negotiate their compensation (which many say is too low), not the actual transfer of the land, which happened in December. City Paper reports that the Arab American Development Corporation will redevelop the condemned properties into 45 residential units if state tax credits come through early this year. The city has pledged $1.8 million and Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez supports the project. Onion Flats will design the net-zero energy development, a portion of which will be set aside for affordable housing.

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

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