Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Vision for Delaware River Waterfront Unveiled

Proposals for Penn’s Landing have been floating around for several years now, but at a public meeting in Philadelphia last month, they finally began to crystallize. Plans call for construction of several mixed-use residential and retail buildings, a 850-seat amphitheater and an arched suspension bridge for pedestrians.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, which oversees the 6 to 7 mile strip of waterfront property outlined in the Central Delaware Master Plan, has hired Hargreaves Associates—the firm responsible for the overhaul of Houston and Louisville’s waterfronts—to revive the deserted stretch along the Delaware River.

Renderings revealed at the event connect Old City to the waterfront with a large promenade park featuring green space, mixed-use residential and retail buildings, and an expansion of the existing South Street Pedestrian Bridge.

Mary Margaret Jones, a senior principal at Hargreaves Associates, gave the audience a more in-depth look at solidified ideas for the waterfront, some of which were proposed when the firm received the Penn’s Landing design commission last spring.

Plans show extensive work on the site with hope its transformation will “unlock the potential of the Delaware.”

Along the expanse of the waterway property, green space and public practicality are emphasized.

At the south end, the South Street Pedestrian Bridge, further developed as an arched suspension bridge that spans the highway, provides access to a new Pier Park with a waterside café, gardens, and large multi-use plaza.

Further north, near the built Hyatt Hotel, Basin Park, a green space encouraging the sailing use of the Delaware River, will include a boat slip and boathouse, and a possible swimming pool on a floating barge.

Midway through the promenade, Hargreaves plans Penn’s Landing Park as a green cap over waterfront parallel roadways, decreasing in grade as it slopes toward the water.

It will provide event space with an 850-seat amphitheater, urban gardens, a dog park, and the possibility for outdoor art galleries within its plazas.

Trails run throughout the promenade plan and at the north end near Market Street, proposed mixed-use residential and retail buildings could commercialize the public space, as well.

Both Hargreaves and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation have expressed their excitement about the plan to connect the city of Philadelphia with its riverfront in a significant way.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Electrical Worker Sues Amtrak for Injuries from Shock

An Amtrak electrician has filed suit against the company because of a shock he suffered on the job three years ago. Brian Kilgore filed with a Pennsylvania court, claiming that his managers failed to follow protocol to prevent the shock, violating the Federal Employers Liability Act by not providing a safe workplace.

Kilgore was shocked when moving a light tower at a North Philadelphia station in June 2011. He says his managers had failed to deactivate wires connected to the tower and he was severely injured.

According to a report, "Kilgore suffered injuries to his feet, head, arms, plus his ones and tissue. He also sustained cardiac and neurological injuries that required prolonged hospitalization."

The complaint says that Amtrak’s negligence forced Kilgore to lose his potential earning power and seek medical attention at great expense.

Kilgore is seeking in excess of $150,000.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

South Philly School Conversion Will Create 84 New Apartments

The developer who purchased the former Childs Elementary School at 17th and Tasker streets plans to turn the building into apartments, with a mix of affordable and market-rate housing. Metal Ventures’ purchase of the vacant school was approved last month by the School Reform Commission.

The developer plans to create a mixed-income apartment building with 72 market rate apartments and 12 affordable apartments.

The company proposes rehabbing the existing structure and building an annex on part of the adjacent lot, said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who has been involved with the sale process for more than a year.

Metal Ventures will build 72 market rate units and 12 affordable units and plans to include 51 off-street parking spaces on an enclosed lot.

The School District was selling the building through a community process, when it stalled.

Ultimately, the councilman worked through several well-attended public meetings and this was the plan that was most supported.

The project stills need to go through the permitting process, as well as the community meetings and public input that go along with it.

The finished project would include a community room that will be accessible by the public by request, and at dedicated times for designated community organizations.

Metal Ventures also will provide an annual contribution to the new Childs Elementary School, at 1599 Wharton Street, as a way to give back to the surrounding community.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Electrician Shocked While Working at Courthouse Square

An electrician was shocked yesterday while working in an office suite in the Washington County, Pennsylvania, Courthouse Square Building. He was working on the wiring in a suite of offices on the seventh floor when he touched a live wire and the metal grid that supports the ceiling tiles, according to reports.

An ambulance transported Adam Betzler, a Washington County electrician hired last year, from the Courthouse Square office building shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday after he received an electrical shock while working on wiring in a seventh-floor office suite.

He was working in offices that has been undergoing renovations.

They housed a county finance department, human services and veterans affairs.

The shock knocked him backward, but he stayed on his feet, the Sheriff's deputy said.

Betzler was able to walk to the Buildings and Grounds Department where the paramedics were called.

“He was going to turn the lights out,” said Irene Farabee, financial analyst for the county, who then “saw him shake his hand.”

The suite of offices has been undergoing renovations for the past few months.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Philadelphia City Council Commits to Goal of 20,000 Solar Roofs

The Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed an ambitious resolution in support of increasing solar power generation within the city of Philadelphia. The resolution sets a goal of 20,000 solar roofs by 2025, and outlines policies that can be used to reach that target.

The city of Philadelphia has vast untapped solar resources, and benefits from over 200 days of sun each year.

Yet the vast majority of the energy used by both the city and the state comes from dirty energy sources like coal, which pollutes our air, threatens community health, and fuels global warming.

In the week leading up to the vote, over 850 Philadelphians signed a petition in support of making Philadelphia a solar leader by committing to the goal of 20,000 solar roofs by the year 2025.

“As the mother of a 17-year old daughter, I see public policy through the prism of her future,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the resolution's sponsor and Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment.

“To the best of our ability, we must leave a cleaner, more sustainable planet for future generations. That requires setting ambitious goals, like producing enough solar energy to power 20,000 homes by 2025, and committing to do the necessary follow through. I look forward to working with a diverse group of stakeholders to make this goal a reality.”

Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney, who cosponsored the resolution, stated that “increasing use of solar energy is not only important for our environment, but it can be a tremendous source of job creation right here in Philadelphia.”

Philadelphia has already laid a foundation for solar energy. In 2008 the U.S. Department of Energy designated Philadelphia as a Solar America City, and has partnered with the Mayor’s office of Sustainability to form the “Solar City Partnership,” designed to facilitate the development of solar energy within the city.

Philadelphia’s efforts are part of a broader national trend, where more solar has been installed in the past 18 months than in the 30 years prior.