William Penn Foundation ousts Nowak | Convention Center privatization | parking minimums for North Central | Variances for 40th and Pine | Dox Thrash mural lost

Good morning, Streeters and happy Thursday.

Yesterday morning, the Business Journal broke the surprising news Jeremy Nowak was ousted from the William Penn Foundation presidency, stunning the region’s nonprofit community. The official reason given for the split was “differences in approach regarding implementation” of William Penn’s new strategic plan. The Inquirer reports that observers are speculating that the “aggressive Nowak” may have lost support of the board due to his attempts to change the foundation’s focus and culture too quickly. “It’s about style, not substance,” Brent Thompson, the foundation’s communications director, told the Daily News. The Inquirer wrote that Nowak evidently left the office for good on Tuesday. The Foundation is a regional philanthropic powerhouse, doling out about $80 million in grants annually. [PlanPhilly receives grant funding from the William Penn Foundation.]

Will the Convention Center go private? The Inquirer reports that a private consultant has been hired to evaluate the privatization of some functions of the Convention Center operations and management. “The board’s move to review privatization options comes seven months before the June 30 expiration of a controversial 10-year customer-service agreement between the authority and the city’s unions.”

Council President Darrell Clarke’s push to create minimum parking requirements for development in residential and mixed-use neighborhoods has been scaled back to apply to North Central Philadelphia, reports PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey. The requirements – to provide 3 parking spaces for every 10 units developed – would only to developments between 9th and 20th streets, Lehigh and Girard avenues. Clarke’s rationale is that given the amount of development pressure in the neighborhood, more off-street parking should be provided to account for the influx of residents an their possible cars. As we’ve written here, parking minimums don’t necessarily resolve parking problems.

Developer Jonathan Weiss now has the variances he needs to build a new residential development in place of the mangled, but historic, Italianate mansion at 40th and Pine streets, reports PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey. Over neighbor objections, the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted 4-1 in favor of variances for height, parking, and the number of units proposed for the Penn-owned site. The neighbors’ case before the Board of L&I Review contesting a hardship finding that paves the way for the historic building’s demolition will continue.

Did contractors paid by the federal government paint over the Dox Thrash mural thinking it was graffiti? The mural, painted on a foreclosed house at 2442 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, was painted in 2001 as a tribute to the pioneering African-American printmaker who lived down the street at number 2340. The Mural Arts Program was notified via Twitter over the weekend that someone had painted a big black square over the mural, and it appears a HUD-hired contractor may be responsible. It’s possible, said the Mural Arts Program’s  Jennifer McCreary, that the mural could be restored if funding could be identified.


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