October 17: Butkovitz, soda tax | “Renter’s market?” | NJ backs Newark

Realtors are throwing out all sorts of incentives like free parking spots and flat screen TVs to woo renters, Bobby Allyn reports. Thanks in part to a recent apartment building boom, economist Kevin Gillen says that Philadelphia is seeing “a lot of units chasing relatively fewer renters.” Real estate brokers and agents bemoan “ever-so-choosy prospective tenants” and sometimes “no hits in a week.” Back in July, Jim Saksa looked into concerns of a housing bubble as well as a risk of “permanent plateau of unaffordability.”

Hidden City Philadelphia gives a rundown of Friday’s Historical Commission meeting, highlighting three properties that drew heated debate and two that the commission voted to postpone decisions on. Jake Blumgart goes in depth with one of the properties in limbo, Christian Street Baptist Church, including comments from the building’s owner Ori Feibush. The commission designated five properties, including Mitchell/Giurgola’s Dorothy Shipley White House in Chestnut Hill.

The soda tax is killing small businesses, claims City Controller Alan Butkovitz. Relying on a survey of 741 businesses that volunteered to fill out a questionnaire, Butkovitz concludes that the study “provides you a statistically accurate profile” of the levy’s crushing impact. The survey cites that 90% of businesses self-reported revenue loss and 60% blamed the soda tax. City official Lauren Hitt questioned Butkovitz’s motivations and methodology, welcoming an impartial study on the tax’s impact. Senator Mario Scavello is seeking co-sponsors for legislation designed to invalidate the tax and “prohibit any municipality from levying such a tax.”

Amazon tales, chapter 73: New Jersey has backed Newark in the bid for the tech giant’s affections, multiple sources report. Unnerved, Camden and Atlantic City officials say they are still throwing their hats in the ring. The deadline to submit bids is Thursday.

The School District’s GreenFutures program is working on executing its formal plan to overhaul how schools “manage their waste, recycling and energy efficiency programs,” writes the Philadelphia Citizen’s Quinn O’Callghan. The plan “delineates 65 discreet actions” to take by 2020 focused on “efficiencies, engagement, equity, environment and education.”

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