June 7: Provident Mutual Life building | Old City Design Guide | Bill to eliminate local school property tax

The Kenney administration hopes to recover some of the $50 million that the city sunk into old Provident Mutual Life Insurance building by selling the rehabbed building along with other city properties like the Roundhouse, Julia Terruso writes. While the city hopes that the work done to date would make it more attractive to potential buyers, former city staffers have words of caution. Former deputy mayor Everett Gillison who worked on the West Philadelphia plan “said the designs were too specific to the Market Street space to replicate in a new location.” Former city and state budget director Michael Masch said the city should resist the temptation to sell too quickly.

As a follow-up, the Inquirer’s editorial board chomps into the litany of failed redevelopment ideas for the old Provident Mutual Life building, including locations for university satellite campuses, Family Court, nonprofits, and the new West Philadelphia High School. While the authors agree that “perhaps it’s best that the city pull out of the project before spending more taxpayer funds on a building that won’t suit its purposes…the space and location considerations should have been resolved before the city sunk $50 million,” arguing that “either way, taxpayers are footing the bill.”

Old City District has published a neighborhood design guide for property owners, developers, architects, and entrepreneurs, Melissa Romero reports. The guide which comes amidst the neighborhood’s retail and residential building boom, “lays out zoning codes and minimum parking requirements, but the majority of the reference guide focuses on a series of recommendations that encourage development that’s made to last, create and support the community, and provide public space.”

State legislators are considering a bill that would completely eliminate the local school property tax, Keystone Crossroads’ Kevin McCorry reports. Currently, property tax revenue “garners roughly $12.6 billion statewide, 41 percent of the total revenue of Pennsylvania public schools.” The bill would hike the state personal income tax from 3.07 to 4.95 percent and raise Philadelphia’s sales tax from 8 to 9 percent. The state’s Independent Fiscal Office “says all homeowners would see a windfall gain [and]…retirees who own their homes would benefit the most,” while “working renters would take on the greatest new tax burden, left at the mercy of landlords paying forward any of their benefit.” McCorry covers the bill’s background, winners and losers, and skepticism on all sides.

Uber has fired more than 20 people after a company-wide harassment investigation and hired at least two senior executives to work on strategy and rethink branding, Bloomberg reports. The company plans to discuss the report’s findings with employees next week and how Uber should address and remediate its workplace culture. “Aside from those fired, 31 employees are in counseling or training, while seven received written warnings from the company, an Uber spokesman said.”

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