May 13: Wolf’s city ideas | Retail “structure” for Broad and Spring Garden | Fairmount Park in Streetview

Governor Tom Wolf’s remarks on Pennsylvania’s hostile relationship with its cities from the Keystone Crossroads conference are making some ripples. In Reading, local experts reinforce the Governor’s point with specific examples of state policies they say hold the city back, and Wolf follows up with a blog post listing some policies he thinks the Commonwealth should actively encourage, including regional land use planning, more mixed-use zoning, urban growth boundaries, and rebalancing the state’s infrastructure spending toward existing developed areas. 

Susan Snyder examines the essence of John Fry urbanism, looking at how the Drexel President’s planning and development work on the Northwest Gateway Project in Lancaster, on Franklin & Marshall’s campus, prefigures his even larger redevelopment ambitions for University City. “It was a lion’s roar driving confidence in the city,” said Lisa Riggs, president of the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County. “It wouldn’t have happened without F&M’s leadership and knowledge, and John’s persuasiveness. That magnitude of redevelopment was beyond what most people could have thought was possible at that time.”

Jim Kenney is skeptical that the tradition of Councilmanic prerogative is in any real danger after the jury’s ruling in the Ori Feibush vs. Kenyatta Johnson trial, reports Tricia Nadolny. “‘What are you tossing out? It’s not like we’re going to change Rules 6-3 of the city code. Because it doesn’t exist. It’s in here,’ he said, pointing to his head.”

The corner of Broad and Spring Garden could end up with a “retail structure” housing a Wawa and Bank of America, says Jacob Adelman, in an article on developer Eric Blumenfeld’s plans for the Divine Lorraine’s surrounding area. “A retail structure planned on vacant land beside [the apartment building that was formerly the Thaddeus Stevens School of Observation] at Broad and Spring Garden Streets will accommodate the Wawa and a Bank of America branch, according to New York-based financier Billy Procida, whose investment fund is helping to bankroll Blumenfeld’s projects.”

The Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations is praising Council President Darrell Clarke’s proposal to borrow $100 million for home repair programs, funded by an 0.1 percent increase in the city’s Realty Transfer Tax. 

Update on the ‘sneckdown’ plaza at 12th and Morris: In addition to changes to the traffic calming changes slated for the intersection, the incoming Barcelona wine bar also plans to add substantial outdoor seating on the peninsula, inside the property line. 

Fairmount Park will be the first major urban park system in the U.S. to get mapped in Google Streetview, allowing people from all over the world to enjoy our parks from the comfort of the Internet, which doesn’t defeat the entire point of parks at all.  

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