September 20: Blatstein building for sale | Goode withdraws tax bill | Henon proposes increased sign fines | Penn unveils health center | Police promote SafeCam
Good morning and happy Friday, Eyes on the Street!
Less than a year after Bart Blatstein completed the $70 million conversion of a former state office building at Broad and Spring Garden streets, he has put the property up for sale, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported Thursday. Blatstein converted the 300,000-square-foot, 1958 office building into 204 apartments with a fitness facility and 18th floor lounge that was once the governor’s office. The building is currently about 75 percent occupied.
Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. has withdrawn one of his two bills seeking to limit real estate tax abatements for high-priced homes. Goode said he hopes doing so will give his other bill a fighting chance. That second bill would eliminate the 10-year residential tax abatement on the 55 percent of tax allocated for the school district. For instance, a $1,000 tax abatement on a home would be capped at $450 and the remaining $550 would go directly to Philly schools.
In other Council news, Councilman Bobby Henon is pushing a bill to raise fines for posting illegal signs on utility poles. The bill would increase the base fines from $75 to $150 and give anyone the right to take down the signs, which he says are a blight on Philadelphia’s landscape.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System unveiled its 12-story, 153,000 outpatient-care building Thursday night. The Penn Medicine Washington Square health center is one of the largest capital projects in the history of Pennsylvania Hospital and will be home to more than 100 health-care providers. Penn Health System has signed a 20-year lease for the building, which was built on top of an existing parking garage at 800 Walnut Street.
If you’ve spent time on the lower portion of the Schuylkill River Trail recently, you may have spotted one of the long, slow moving CSX K040 trains chugging along the adjacent tracks. As Philadelphia becomes the center of a new oil-refinement boom, these mile-long oil trains are causing some safety concerns. Last July, the same type of train derailed in Quebec, leaving 47 people dead. The trains haul raw crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, through densely populated areas included Chicago, Albany and New Jersey, to South Philadelphia.
Police are looking for business and homeowners to participate in SafeCam. Through the program, property owners with security cameras register the camera locations. In the event of a crime, police can better identify which cameras might have captured video evidence. About 600 homeowners and businesses have registered cameras, and according to the Philadelphia Police Department, in two years, 200 arrests have been based on information retrieved from cameras registered with SafeCam.
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