November 11: W Hotel not alone in subsidies | Chinatown’s role threatened | Vacant schools’ senior housing potential | Walkable Philadelphia | West Philly Food Hub expands

Good morning Eyes on the Street. We hope you had a nice weekend and get a chance to think of our veterans today. 

In light of the $33 million tax-increment financing (TIF) tax break that the 700-room W Hotel project will receive, the Philadelphia Business Journal put together a list of how much public subsidies other Center City hotel projects received. The $214 million Marriott project received $59.9 million in grants and tax abatements. That’s 28% of the total cost. The $115 million Loews project had 48% of its $115 million total project cost covered by public subsidies thanks to a $16 million TIF, $24 million loan and $15.3 million historic tax credits. The full list includes 13 hotel projects, all of which received considerable public subsidies.

A civil rights group that studied property and demographic records in New York’s, Boston’s and Philadelphia’s Chinatowns found that an influx of luxury housing, rising rents and land values, a soaring white population and slipping Asian population could threaten Chinatown’s role as a gateway for immigrants and a regional hub for culture and family. The study “Chinatowns on the East Coast” predicts the Chinatowns in these three cities will become “ethnic Disneylands” and cater to visitors coming to dine. 

In an op-ed, Mark Schwartz, executive director of Regional Housing Legal Services and Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), and John Paone, president of Thomas Mill Associates and a PHFA board member, argue that vacant schools should be converted into housing for seniors and the disabled – some of them residents of those very neighborhoods. Schwartz and Paone push for the tax credits that would make this a viable option and explain how the pending casino license could make all the difference. 

Philadelphia was ranked in the top 5 most walkable cities by a new Walk Score list. Philly came in just behind New York, San Francisco and Boston, and in Philly Center City east and west, Bella Vista, Schuylkill Southwest and Fishtown were named the most walkable neighborhoods. 

The fresh produce truck known as The West Philly Fresh Food Hub is expanding. Owner Ryan Kuck recently bought a second truck which he is fundraising to retrofit. Kuck also hopes to raise enough money to hire a sixth employee. The current truck spends most of its time at 37th Street near Lancaster Ave, but with a new truck, Kuck and his team might be able to cover more ground. 

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