March 20: North Philadelphia TOD | West Baltimore Innovation District | SEPTA brawl

A consortium of New York investors are planning to build a 1.7 million square feet complex of housing, offices, labs, and start-up workspaces in a swath of vacant properties and empty lots around Amtrak’s North Philadelphia station, Jacob Adelman reports. Led by HFZ Capital Group, the investors have quietly acquired lots and spent millions over “several years on site surveys, engineering studies, and other preconstruction work.” The proposed of district aims to maximize the area’s proximity to nearby university campuses and build a transportation hub connecting the Broad Street Line, the Regional Rail system, and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. If successful, the project “could be the holy grail that could jump-start revitalization in North Philadelphia,” according to the Drexel University’s Harris Steinberg.

A new study ranks which cities have the fastest and slowest highways. Considering geographic and demographic factors, length of trip, and time of day, the authors estimated the average speed of the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington region scored slightly slower than the nation’s average (epitomized by Phoenix’s ‘perfect’ score), faster than larger denser cities including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Strong Towns goes over the research methodology and the complete ranking.

Community organizers from West Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods have joined forces to build a 1,300-acre innovation district that provides housing and amenities for its longstanding residents and the city’s burgeoning tech community. Using developments inspired by Philadelphia and Boston, the leaders designed the district to house mixed-use, mixed-income developments in “a compact, transit-accessible geographic area where institutions and companies cluster in proximity to startups, business incubators and accelerators,” Next City reports. The work to get the district built from paper to pavement, however, has local residents concerned about displacement, jobs, and economic opportunities.

Amid the big-ticket high-rise residential construction boom, renters in Philly and Pittsburgh also have their pick of low-rise apartment buildings with a consistent and arguably bland aesthetic. Margaret Krauss of Keystone Crossroads reports on how technology, cost, materials, and design play a role in this mixed-use building type, and why some developments aim to blend in and not stand out in their neighborhoods.

SEPTA released a video and photo stills on Sunday showing teenage ‘combatants’ “fighting among themselves, while some kicked and punched two men curled up on the floor of the station,” Jason Laughlin reports. The police are still looking for the individuals involved in the brawl at the Race-Vine BSL station last Thursday.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal