October 17: Blight remediation reduces gun violence | Phila.gov beta | Kimmel buying Merriam

Blight remediation programs for vacant buildings and lots in Philadelphia are a cost effective strategy to curb the prevalence of gun violence, according to new research from Penn’s Urban Health Lab published last week. In an American Journal of Public Health article, the researchers write: “Urban blight remediation is a low-cost, high-return solution to firearm violence. Simple treatments of abandoned buildings and vacant lots returned conservative estimates of between $5.00 and $26.00 in net benefits to taxpayers and between $79.00 and $333.00 to society at large, for every dollar invested. Other firearm violence prevention programs have either been unsuccessful or require more costly human resources to be active and ever-present for them to work. Blight remediation may outperform many of these other programs in terms of value and sustainability.”

The beta version of phila.gov went live late last week, and Technically Philly shares some highlights of the city’s new site, which foregrounds the information citizens want most, includes a mobile version, and has rewritten info from city departments. You can volunteer to be a beta tester for Phila.gov as the city’s team prepares to finalize the reworked phila.gov for final launch next year.

The phased transition of the Reading Viaduct into a linear park is beginning. In his column Mike Newall says that as the Reading Viaduct is remade we should listen to those who found beauty in its grit and mystery.

The Kimmel Center is buying the Merriam Theater from the University of the Arts for $11 million, reports Peter Dobrin. The deal would give the Kimmel control of four Broad Street venues between Locust and Pine, and for the school it could be the first of several real estate deals to come.

Inga Saffron casts her gaze to Our Lady of Loreto, a fabulous former Catholic Church in Southwest Philly featuring aviation motifs.

Mayor Kenney’s communications director Lauren Hitt took to Twitter to scold the University of Pennsylvania for not making Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to the city. Hitt called the choice “morally wrong” as well as bad PR. The DP reports that Hitt was speaking as an “upset alum” and did not signal a stiffer turn from the Kenney administration.

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