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Philly Urban Living

Philly Urban Living - Real Estate | News | Life | Philadelphia

By Timothy M. Garrity | Agent in Philadelphia, PA
  • Tim Garrity gets interviewed in another article for Metro Philadelphia

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Market Conditions in Philadelphia, Moving in Philadelphia  |  March 25, 2014 2:20 PM  |  210 views  |  4 comments
    Check Metro out at: metro.us/philadelphia

    My online/print media pal, Julia West who is a contributing writer with Metro Philadelphia, graciously extended another invitation for me to speak intelligently about Philadelphia real estate.

    The subject, a boost of empty nesters into the current Philadelphia real estate market.

    Julia's article is titled, "Where are the empty nesters moving?" No need for me to quote what you can read by just clicking right here.

    Metro Philadelphia is a great website for local news on real estate, entertainment, and sports. Informative daily reading from your laptop/tablet/smartphone, or you can pick up a free copy at numerous local distribution boxes throughout the city.

    Personally, I always grab one before hopping on the train to Center City. The articles are well-written and succinct, and I can usually get through the whole thing before arriving at either Market East or Suburban Station.
  • Comcast's new skyscraper confirms Philadelphia's global status

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Quality of Life in Philadelphia, Market Conditions in Philadelphia  |  January 19, 2014 8:00 AM  |  270 views  |  2 comments
    Philadelphia skyline with the addition of CITC

    All I have to say about this is ... wow.

    When the news hit on Wednesday, I was literally shocked; as I pride myself on keeping up with the local Philadelphia development scene. Although, I am not a professional blogger or journalist; it's more of a hobby for me.

    Not only was Comcast able to keep the details of such a large project completely hush-hush, but they really outdid themselves with its location, design, and overall utilization. Rumors had been circulating, via local photo-blogging expert Bradley Maule, but the specifics were non-existent.

    So, what does this building mean for Philadelphia? IMHO, a lot.

    But before I get into why I think this project is an amazing step forward for our great city, along with having impeccable timing, I'm going to lean on my pal Liz Spikol for the project details.

    Here you go (thanks for taking the time, Liz):

    - 1,121 ft tall, or 59 stories
    - 13 floors for a Four Seasons Hotel, with 200 rooms
    - 2,682 sq ft of retail space
    - An extension of the underground SEPTA concourse by one block
    - Exterior glass elevator
    - Shared workspace environment for 4,000 employees
    - Tallest building in the US, outside of NYC and Chicago
    - $1.2B project cost, with both private investment and grants from the city/commonwealth
    - 1.517M sq ft
    - Block-long lobby
    - Gardens
    - 2 restaurants
    - Fitness facilities
    - Public reception space
    - Ownership: 80% Comcast, 20% Liberty
    - Management: Liberty
    - LEED platinum certification (hopefully)
    - $30.7M in annual commonwealth tax revenue
    - $21.5M in annual city tax revenue
    - 2,800 new/permanent jobs within the city
    - 20,000+ temporary jobs
    - Targeted completion date: 2017

    Yooo ... seriously?

    Before we get into some of my own thoughts/opinions, check out the video below for a well-done virtual tour.




    That is one awesome project, and it will be the tallest building to-date in Philadelphia.

    When the Comcast Center was built/completed back in June 2008, it was a huge statement for our fair city. It meant that our local, urban economy could still support an HQ for a company as big as Comcast; considering they were also looking at their options in NYC (which almost went the way of Verizon back in 1996).

    This development also meant that our downtown was about to change.

    Comcast Center | Center City, Philadelphia
    And it did.

    These days, especially with the next real estate wave right in front of us, Center City is booming. New restaurants, new shops, new museums, new apartments, new buildings, new companies, new events, and lots of new people. Center City Philadelphia is considered to be the 3rd most populous downtown in the US (again, behind NYC and Chicago), and it's the heartbeat of Philadelphia's resurgence as a world-class city.

    Okay, that's enough history. Now for the fun stuff.

    As a blogger, I am of the opinion that my role is to not only find interesting news that others might enjoy, but also to provide constructive criticism based on what I read. If I didn't include the latter, all I would need to do is copy/paste links.

    But where's the fun in that, right?

    So if you happen to be a regular reader (and please know that I appreciate all of you), you know that I typically break down Philadelphia news into small pieces in order make your reading more simple and enjoyable.

    Here we go...

    CITC Renderings | Foster + Partners

    There are 3 main/general reasons why I feel that not only is the new Comcast building a game-changer for Philadelphia as a city, but also why I really like the project myself:

    1. Location, Location, Location: The 3 most important words in real estate could not be more relevant when discussing the Comcast Innovation + Technology Center (CITC, as it's been dubbed already). First, the building is just across the street from the existing Comcast Center; smart move. Second, the location allows for an extension of the underground concourse to Suburban Station; good thinking. And third, it's located in the middle of Philadelphia's business district, which helps create synergy among those who already work in the area while adding appropriately to our ever-changing, dense skyline; bravo.

    2. Lots of permanent jobs, which can easily translate into additional jobs: Most of what I have seen thus far has stated that the new CITC will create 1,500 permanent jobs, but that's just the start. Not only will this project solidify Philadelphia's reputation as one of the world's leading cities for media innovation, but it helps provide a base for all of the recent smaller, start-up companies that also call Philadelphia home. This is where additional jobs could be created, through incubation and collaboration with one of the largest companies in the world.

    3. It's Comcast: I know the title of this last one may shock you, but it's important. From a customer service standpoint, Comcast is known to have a less-than-stellar reputation; I can also attest to that, as I am a current customer myself (sorry, Comcast). However, the acquisition of NBC Universal has literally "electro-shocked Comcast back into coherence" (as once quoted by George Costanza). In other words, Comcast is now considered the largest mass media and communications company in the world. With Comcast committed to taking at least 75% of the space at CITC, it creates a huge presence for the media giant and allows others to feed off of that energy. That is why having a large company (like Comcast) associated with this project is so important, as opposed to just having a developer propose the building without having tenants in place.

    Whew, and there you have it. My two cents on a platter.

    Comcast's Innovation + Technology Center is going to redefine Center City Philadelphia in the years to come, and it has the potential to redefine our entire region on a global scale.

    Here are some helpful links to read up further on the subject:

    Comcast to construct $1.2B skyscraper

    Comcast officially confirms skyscraper

    Talking CITC with John Gattuso

    Comcast seeks to redefine Philadelphia

    Look inside the new Comcast tower

    Renderings of Comcast's new skyscraper
  • Cira Centre South is finally taking shape with FMC Tower

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Market Conditions in Philadelphia, Rentals in Philadelphia  |  November 12, 2013 9:15 AM  |  757 views  |  2 comments
    Cira Centre South - 2016

    If it was said that I haven't wrote enough about University City over the past few years, it would be an understatement.

    Well, here is some more cool news for UCity.

    After much hype and debate over the last few years, coupled with a slowdown in high-rise commercial development across the city, Brandywine is now set to break ground on FMC Tower (aka FMC Tower at Cire Centre South). This will be the end cap to the Cira Centre development in University City, Philadelphia.

    Here are the details:

    - 650 feet tall, or 47 stories tall
    - Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli (who also designed UCity's Cira Centre, next to 30th Street Station)
    - Almost 1,000,000 sq ft of usable space (with over 60% already pre-leased to FMC & UPenn)
    - FMC will have a skybridge connected to Cira Green (a new, 1-acre park on top of a parking garage)

    All I can say is, awesome!

    Not only for the fact that another cool, architecturally pleasing building will join the likes of Cira Centre and the upcoming Evo at Cira Centre South (formerly known as The Grove), but because another large company is putting their Global HQ in Philadelphia, while joining the likes of UPenn (Philadelphia's largest, private employer). This type of development further justifies UCity's place as Philadelphia's 2nd leading center for jobs/entertainment.

    All good stuff.

    A few other things that make this project cool, IMHO:

    - It's Mixed-Use: FMC Tower will house FMC, UPenn, and rental housing; 3 different uses (commercial, educational, and residential), 1 building. These tenants will all be on top of the future tenants taking space in the building.

    - It's Green: FMC Tower is shooting for LEED Silver Certification, with the plan of adding a 1-acre park on top of a parking garage. This will help with stormwater management, as well as provide a new park for Philadelphians to enjoy. Also, the views will be nothing short of spectacular.

    - It's Smart: The design is great, it's right next to 30th Street Station, it still has the option to comfortably park your car (for both travelers and suburbanites alike), and it's building on UCity's current momentum as a global city-within-a-city.

    For further reading, check out these other helpful links:

    All The Renderings: Cira Centre South's Final Tower

    650 Foot Tall Monster Building Coming to West Philly

    Many More Details About the Skyscraping FMC Tower
  • Philadelphia is setting the precedent for mega-developments along the Delaware River Waterfront

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Market Conditions in Philadelphia  |  July 31, 2013 4:02 PM  |  766 views  |  No comments

    The Delaware River Waterfront is on fire ... figuratively speaking.

    Check out all of these upcoming and/or in-process developments I've posted about before; here, here, here, here ... oh, and here. Developments range from smaller, neighborhoody projects, to large scale projects (such as this one, which prompted this post).

    I think this post is particularly important because it's starting to show a trend for new development proposals along the Delaware River Waterfront. The Central Delaware Plan is taking precedence, and it's telling developers what they can and cannot build; instead of vice-versa, which used to happen often in Philadelphia. The best part is, developers are getting rewarded for working within the strengths/rules of the plan, and are adding neighborhood friendly features.

    To me, this is a win-win.

    On the one hand, you have real estate developers that focus more on the bottom line and ROI than anything else; understood, as this is the main reason why new projects even happen. On the other hand, you have the City of Philadelphia (and especially, the local neighbors) that want smart development to enhance their quality of life; also understood, as they don't want developers coming in and ruining their neighborhood with closed off, one-sided projects.

    Hence, the Central Delaware Waterfront Master Plan.

    Feel free to read more about this upcoming project (estimated to start Spring 2014), and see why the DWR is where it's at.
  • Big plans for the lower banks of the Schuylkill River

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Market Conditions in Philadelphia  |  June 14, 2013 4:15 AM  |  527 views  |  No comments

    If you read PhillyUrbanLiving.com regularly, and have kept up with most of my past posts, I mentioned this plan back in 2011 with the title, "Will industrial jobs come back to Philadelphia?"

    Well, all I can say is that the city is planning for it; which is a good thing.

    In recent years, maybe it was the foresight of the Nutter administration or maybe it was just good timing, I truly feel like the City of Philadelphia is really starting to map out its future ... by planning for it. Not only with the help of local experts, but with citizen input as well. Planning for the Central Delaware Waterfront and Philadelphia 2035, are just a few examples of large-scale Philadelphia planning in action.

    But why is this plan important enough to blog about?

    I think the Lower Schuylkill Master Plan may be one of the most important visions to come about in recent years. Not only for the prospect of it actually happening, but because it connects South/Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods to Center City and University City (neighborhoods that have laid dormant for years, since Philadelphia's industrial might left town). Therefore, I find that this plan is extremely important for both local jobs and the future strength of those neighborhoods.

    It's a good read, so if you're super into the details, take some time and see what Philadelphia has planned for the lower banks of the Schuylkill River.
  • Philadelphia is attracting more tech jobs

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Market Conditions in Philadelphia, Moving in Philadelphia  |  April 18, 2013 6:49 AM  |  685 views  |  No comments

    iPipeline

    Bentley Systems

    Fiberlink

    These are some of the new technology companies setting up shop in Philadelphia. Since all 3 of these companies are currently based in Philadelphia's suburbs, why all of the sudden do they all need offices with a Philadelphia address?

    The answer (according to Paul Melchiorre, President of iPipeline) is that, "Philly is changing for the better and tech companies are realizing that. This is as good an area to build a tech company as Boston, Austin, or San Francisco." Paul is right.

    As I have stated many times in the past, even though it's a given, Philadelphia is the center for all history, culture, entertainment, and jobs in our area. It's the densest concentration of residents, shops, and restaurants, and it's also the center of our area's education and politics. We have some of the finest schools in the world, and more students are deciding to stay in Philadelphia.

    It wasn't until the last 25-30 years that Philadelphians really started to see their own potential, after deindustrialization occurred throughout the Northeastern US. When jobs started leaving the city, so too did its residents (which helped create the thriving suburbs we have today).

    Now that the city has cleaned up its act a bit, and more residents are moving back to the city, new jobs are following.

  • Mixed-use is slowly becoming the norm in Philadelphia

    Posted Under: Shopping & Local Amenities in Philadelphia, Market Conditions in Philadelphia  |  February 26, 2013 1:39 PM  |  517 views  |  No comments

    What exactly is considered "Mixed-Use?" Well, in Philadelphia you can have C-1, C-2, and so on and so forth.

    But what do those classifications actually mean? They mean that depending on what the developer wants to accomplish, he/she will have to conform to the City's zoning code.

    Philadelphia's new zoning code (which was introduced in August 2012) was designed to meet 21st century demand: population increases in dense, urban areas. Therefore, the City is actually encouraging mixed-use projects throughout different neighborhoods; that is, depending on the neighborhood and scope of the project.

    In my own personal opinion, a mixed-use project accomplishes a few things: 1) It allows the residents easy access to things they need (e.g. a local market, coffee shop, dry cleaner, etc.), 2) It allows the business to create a consistent flow of customers (by pulling/retaining business directly from the building), 3) It helps create a more dense, urban environment (which seems to be what every city is striving for these days), and 4) It can be more cost effective. Now #4 will vary with every project, but the goal is to create a "win-win-win" (a "win" for the resident, "win" for the business, and "win" for the developer).

    If you like, throw in a fourth "win" for the City of Philadelphia.

    PhiladelphiaPlaneto.com has produced a great story highlighting some mixed-use projects trying to hit the market in 2013.

    Feel free to have a look-see.
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