November 20: ‘Blat Cave’ | LA21 strategies | Transit riders unions

Jared Brey covers People’s Emergency Center (PEC)’s strategies to preserve longtime businesses and historic buildings while bolstering development on Lancaster Avenue. PEC’s community, economic, and real estate development director James Wright discusses the organization’s moves to acquire several key properties in order to maintain ground floor retail along the corridor and focus vacant lot restoration and streetscape interventions at targeted intersections.

Inga Saffron critiques the ‘Blat Cave,’ aka Bart Blatstein’s 4,000-square-foot, four-story mansion in Rittenhouse. Saffron goes into the luxurious detail of the Gilded Age estate, with some contractors estimating that the development cost between $8 million and $16 million. Aside from a Parisian-inspired central courtyard, indoor tennis court, and infinity pool, there’s a great picture of the very handsome black walnut front door.

With less retail tenants than anticipated and an undetermined opening date, some experts are concerned that developers overestimated demand for East Market, writes Fabiola Cineas. In response, PREIT’s Joseph Coradino says that observers can’t compare the shopping district project to a traditional mall—pointing out that 22 million commuters cut through the building each year and that it won’t be inward-facing like the Gallery was.

Both former Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia head Alex Doty and 5th Square are leading efforts to create a transit riders’ union, Jason Laughlin writes. Doty says that his initiative, Pennsylvanians for Transit, aims to maintain a cooperative relationship with SEPTA and 5th Square’s Dena Driscoll wants to organize a “loud and influential voice” in the bus network reform conversations. Riders unions advocates from other cities argue that an organized constituency is necessary to force officials to prioritize public transit.

Albert Hong spotlights the work of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation’s three inaugural fellows, the Village of Arts and Humanities’ Michael O’Bryan, public health director and clinical associate professor at Jefferson University Priya Mammen, and Centennial Parkside CDC’s Chris Spahr.

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