October 25: Council OKs tax lien sales | New South Broad Dranoff project | SugarHouse expansion drawings | Amtrak agrees to add bike parking | East Mt. Airy gets new parkland

Good morning, Eyes!  

Council approved the idea of selling property tax liens to private investors and collection agencies yesterday, but according to the city’s Law Department, the city already has the authority to sell its liens and Council has no say in the matter. The Pew Charitable Trust estimated that the city is owed more than $515 million in back property taxes, interest and penalties but that only about 30 percent of that is collectible. 

Developer Carl Dranoff is reportedly looking to assemble multiple parcels along the Avenue of the Arts at Spruce and Cyprus streets, the Philadelphia Business Journal (PBJ) reported yesterday. Dranoff’s early plans indicate he wants to build a large mixed-use project that would include condos, a hotel and a restaurant – all across the street from the Kimmel Center. PBJ notes that the Avenue of the Arts has its arts and cultural anchors firmly established and “is gradually rounding out other facets of the street by adding more residential and retail.”

SugarHouse Casino released drawings for its $155 million expansion project. The redesign aims to “engage the river” by adding a lot of window space and a riverside balcony on the second floor. The gaming floor will increase from 58,000 square feet to 85,000 square feet. At ground level, the casino will extend its riverwalk and a bike path along the northern end of the property toward Penn Treaty Park.

Early this month we told you that the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia was sending around a petition asking Amtrak to increase and improve bike parking at 30th Street Station – the 3rd busiest Amtrak station in the country. Well, 183 people signed that petition, and Amtrak has agreed to install more bicycle parking on both the 30th Street and 29th Street sides of the station

East Mt. Airy residents who pushed to turn a private property into a community asset have succeeded. The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation secured the six acres of private land for use as public parkland, known as Wissahickon East. Neighbors first came together on the issue in 1994. At that time it was owned by DeSouza Brown Inc., which once considered building condos on the property. In 2006 a historical easement was placed on the property. That resident-led initiative protected the land from development, effectively giving the city the opportunity to acquire the property. DeSouza Brown later donated the land to the city. The first cleanup is scheduled for Dec. 7.

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