Happy Friday, Streeters. Here’s this morning’s Buzz:
The owners of Parx (Greenwood Gaming) and co-owners of Xfinity Live! (Cordish) want to put a casino at the Holiday Inn site near the sports stadiums on Packer Avenue, reports the Inquirer. Their casino plans would include 2,000 slots, 125 table games, parking for 2,500 cars, a revamped hotel, a spa, six restaurants, music venue, and “a rooftop party deck.” The operators see advantages in the site’s location near the sports stadiums, which attract millions of visitors annually, as well as easy access to the Walt Whitman Bridge, I-95 and I-76.
But Inga Saffron thinks it’s going to be hard for any of the casino proposals to compete with Bart Blatstein’s concept for The Provence. “It’s easy to make fun of the plan’s kitschier aspects, such as the faux French village perched on the casino roof. But if you strip away the architecture and focus on the project’s components, there is no doubt that the mix of retail, restaurants, spas, and theater ups the ante for the rest of the pack,” Saffron writes. “This is really a shopping mall with a casino attached, and it is a less destructive, more modern way to package gambling in a city such as Philadelphia.” Saffron gives Blatstein’s plans points for site selection (transit-oriented, walkable, auto-friendly), relatively limited parking, the addition of ground floor commercial spaces along Callowhill, and the reuse of the historic Inquirer building. “The most productive thing the Nutter administration can do now is work to amass political support at home and in Harrisburg so it can get the best deal, economically and civically.” The Provence could be our best shot.
The hardship appeal over the Penn-owned historic building at 40th and Pine streets ground on at the L&I Board of Review on Thursday, reports PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey. The meeting started 2 ½ hours late, the appellants called two witnesses, and the board reached no decisions and did not immediately schedule another hearing.
Using the writings of Edwin Jellett, a turn of the century naturalist from Germantown, members of the Awbury Arboretum staff and board are digging into Germantown’s horticultural history and contemplating ways to capitalize on that rich heritage, reports the Inquirer.
In his column for Next American City, Mark Alan Hughes thinks the “key to unlocking [the Reading Viaduct’s] substantial value is to reactivate its genius as a piece of connective infrastructure.” Repurposing the entire length of this magnificent piece of historic infrastructure – from Brewerytown and Strawberry Mansion, along the Parkway, to Poplar – Hughes writes, “would allow us to create transit and bike connections to the next big neighborhoods outside of Center City and accelerate their prosperity. If it also creates an easy way to get from the Convention Center to the Parkway museums, then all the better.”
The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.