May 25: Police moving to former Inquirer building | SEPTA Transit Chief Nestel | Point Breeze grocery store

The long-rumored plan to move the Philadelphia Police Department’s headquarters to the former the Inquirer and Daily News building is official, Jacob Adelman reports. The city scrapped the Nutter administration’s plans to move the new Police Administration Building to the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance building at 46th and Market, after spending at least $50 million alredady to stabilize and partially renovate the West Philadelphia location, citing 440 North Broad’s more central location, parking availability, and more space. The move will still include co-locating the city’s morgue, emergency dispatch center, and toxicology lab with the police. This change would cost the city about $290 million, roughly the same as it would have cost to finish renovating the Provident Mutual building, according to Planning and Development Director Anne Fadullon.

Philadelphia Weekly’s Max Marin walks the beat with SEPTA’s Transit Police chief Thomas J. Nestel. When Nestel took the reins of the department in 2012, he developed “long-term, less sensational goals: curbing fare evasion, neutralizing high-crime hotspots along the transit corridors, and raising the public profile of a police department that many people know only as ‘not the real police.’” Nestel’s increased scrutiny, such as requiring officers to wear body cameras, has received pushback from the Fraternal Order of Transit Police Lodge 109, with FOTP head Omari J. Bervine, calling the chief’s leadership “draconian.” Critics have also called Nestel’s fare evasion campaign “poor-shaming.”

A shuttered two-story 1,800-square-foot rowhome at the corner of McKean and Colorado Street in Point Breeze will soon house a fresh grocer, reports Curbed Philly. Rowhouse Grocery, once site to a German-American deli during the Depression, “does not aim to be a destination eatery,” but rather provide “affordable fresh produce, meat, pantry staples, and…dairy products to the largely Indonesian, Mexican and African American neighborhood.” The area, which “has seen revitalization and rapid gentrification… still [suffers from] a shortage of places for locals to buy fresh produce,” with no walkable access to healthy food within two blocks according to a 2014 Philadelphia Department of Public Health study.

After Dilworth Park’s successful transformation, what’s next for City Hall’s courtyard, the park’s “stepsister space?” Inga Saffron writes that a Southwest Airlines place-making grant will pay for new seating, umbrellas, and a performance stage for a temporary pop-up beer garden, but the courtyard has not had a major renovation in at least half a century. Using grant dollars from Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust, CCD’s Paul Levy has contracted WRT to develop a design strategy for improving the courtyard. A preview of the WRT proposal would clear out the courtyard’s planting beds and at least two of the four SEPTA subway entrances “to create a clean, flexible surface that could be used for a variety of activities.” Inga questions the courtyard’s potential public-private future, “given the significance of the space — the symbolic heart of the city.” Deputy Planning Commissioner Alan Urek says the city “should maintain jurisdiction.”

Phoenix has officially knocked Philly off the list of the five largest American cities, according to Census Bureau statistics released Thursday. The Inquirer’s Jeff Gammage writes that while Philadelphia “is still growing, and for a 10th straight year, after decades of decline… cities in the South and West are growing much faster, and Phoenix had the largest increase of all — 32,113 people between July 2015  and July 2016.” By the numbers, Philadelphia spans a 135 square miles and grows by 8 people a day, while Phoenix covers 517 square miles and brings in 88 people a day. No Northeast cities ranked among the nation’s fastest-growing cities.

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