June 15: A new record for Philly tourism | Chris Crockett leaves Water Dept | Fun with tax financing

Jared Brey uncovers a veritable Turducken of tax financing: An “NID-backed TIF” that Bruce Lenfest wants to use to raise more revenue for two Center City hotel projects currently underway. The hotels have already been approved for tax-increment financing—where future local tax receipts anticipated from a new development are put toward financing that project—as well as state and federal aid, bringing the total public subsidy to $75 million. In addition to this, Lenfest is now asking for a single-site Neighborhood Improvement District to essentially levy a property tax on his own tenants for the purpose of financing the building. 

Last year was a record year for Philadelphia tourism, Kristina Jenkins reports, with more than 41 million people visiting the city—a 3.1% increase from 2014. Notably, 88% of those visitors were leisure travelers.

Christopher Leinberger of LOCUS says the Philadelphia suburbs are some of the best-situated nationally to take advantage of demand for walkable urban development, writes Sandy Smith, but he laments the legendary local opposition to allowing denser infill near regional rail stations. “You’ve got this great rail network in place and you’re not taking advantage of it,” he said, “This could be 30 or 40 percent of your economic growth if you allow it to happen, but you may or may not.”

Philadelphia Water and Citymart launched a new Green Stormwater Infrastructure Innovation Challenge, seeking information and proposals from all comers to find better ways of determining subsurface conditions at potential GSI sites before planning and construction begin. 

Chris Crockett, the Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Environmental Services at Philadelphia Water, has left the Kenney administration to join Aqua America as their Chief Environmental Officer, reports Dave Hess. Crockett was one of the leading lights of the Green City Clean Waters plan that earned Philadelphia international recognition for green stormwater management.

The Delaware River water taxis are fun, but they aren’t taxis in the transit sense, says Cassie Owens. 

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