SEPTA has approved the final route of a proposed high speed rail line connecting King of Prussia to Center City. In a press release issued Thursday, SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. calls the extension “a critical initiative in SEPTA’s efforts to connect the region for more integrated mobility, and enhance the area’s economic vitality, sustainability, and quality of life.” The approval is an important step forward for a project that started five years ago, but it’s nowhere the final green light. The $1.1 billion project still must go through an environmental review and the transit agency won’t even begin nailing down financing sources until that process is complete, likely in 2019, according to the SEPTA release.
Philadelphia is moving forward to host the nation’s first supervised safe injection sites; now the devil’s in the details. WHYY News’ Elana Gordon brings up a handful of questions: If not the city, who will actually fund and operate a site? Where will it be located? Could such a site be immune from federal prosecution? Critics range from wary to opposed: Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, whose district is in the heart of the opioid crisis, wasn’t keen on letting a private developer lead without clear accountability, while Police Commissioner Richard Ross, has gone from “adamantly against” any injection site to having an open mind. There are more than 100 safe injection sites worldwide, most of them in Europe, but they remain unprecedented in America, with many people’s only exposure to the idea coming from The Wire’s fictitious Hamsterdam plot line. Despite the medical and criminal justice experts who say that a safe zone could make the city safer and reduce drug-related deaths, it could take a long time for the court of public opinion to come around.
The City Controller’s financial and policy wonk Jeff Hornstein is the new executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. Hornstein spent the last five years as director of financial and policy analysis at the city controller’s office and almost ten years before that working as a labor organizer. The former president of the Queen Village Neighbors Association and chair of the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition, Hornstein will bring an urban lens to the regional business organization. One hint as to the direction he will be taking The Economy League is the Anchor Procurement Initiative, a program he designed while at the controller’s office to increase local spending by major local institutions such as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania. Another hint can be found in an op-ed Hornstein wrote for PlanPhilly in 2015. “A successful neighborhood school greatly increases property values, and thereby greatly increases wealth for homeowners at the same time as it increases the City’s tax base.
From hospital to housing, manufacturing to coworking, and stable to retail: Want a quick visual refresher on some of the sexy adaptive reuse projects in the city? Curbed Philly compiles a list of their 15 “most intriguing and interesting projects currently underway.” In Francisville, developer MMPartners is converting the former St. Joseph’s Hospital into apartments with amenities including a fitness center, basketball court, and roof deck. Up on North Broad, local coworking darling Benjamin’s Desk will be transforming the historic Studebaker plant and showroom into a coworking space named Divine Works while a few stones away North Broad Living Management will be converting an Italianate-style horse stable built in 1867 into a mixed-use residential with ground-floor commercial.
Landlords seeking to evict their tenants must now provide more evidence that they’ve complied with Philadelphia law, Jake Blumgart reports. Tenant advocates and legal aid lawyers say this tangible change is “a big, big improvement” in addressing the disparity of legal representation in landlord-tenant court. In 2016, only seven to nine percent of all tenants in Philly’s eviction court had legal representation.