Monday, July 25, 2016

Electrical Inspector Charged With Accepting Bribes

A former South Jersey electrical code inspector has been charged for allegedly accepting bribes from electrical contractors in exchange for favors on the job.

Mitchell B. Perkins, 67, of Stafford Township, N.J., was formerly employed as an electrical sub-code official/electrical inspector for Lakewood Township.

The favors were "in the form of scheduling and conducting inspections more quickly or, in at least one instance, approving work that was not actually inspected."

The Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment at the end of June charging Perkins with one count of bribery (2nd degree), two counts of official misconduct (2nd degree), two counts of acceptance or receipt of an unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior (2nd degree), and one count of pattern of official misconduct (2nd degree). 

It is alleged that, between May 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2015, Perkins accepted four separate payments of $300 from an electrical contractor, who was working as a witness for the State Police at the time.

The contractor requested that Perkins inspect his work more quickly and he would be paid off accordingly. He said that Perkins returned the first payment, but he allegedly kept the three later payments.

It is also alleged that, after the first payment, Perkins, who previously was continuously delaying the inspections of the contractor’s works sites, began to conduct inspections of his work sites almost immediately after.

On one occasion, Perkins allegedly approved electrical work performed by the contractor without first inspecting the work. 

Afterwards, Perkins allegedly accepted the fourth $300 payment," said the acting Attorney General Porrino.

In connection with those four alleged payments, Perkins is charged with bribery, official misconduct, and acceptance or receipt of an unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior. 

He is charged with a second count of official misconduct and a second count of acceptance or receipt of an unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior based on multiple instances dating back to 1997 when he allegedly accepted other payments from contractors to influence the performance of his work as an electrical sub-code official and inspector for Lakewood Township. 

The charge of pattern of official misconduct relates to that conduct as well as the conduct involving the cooperating witness in 2015.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

University Plans Massive $1.5 Billion Hospital Tower

The University of Pennsylvania is planning to knock down its Penn Tower to make way for a new $1.5 billion hospital building that will house 700 patient beds, 50 operating rooms and other health-care services.

The city planning commission has already approved plans for the 343-foot-tall structure that will take the place of the university's Penn Tower once its demolition is complete.

The 1.1 million-square-foot New Patient Pavilion will include 500 inpatient rooms, 50 operating rooms, and an emergency section, as well as a 650-space underground parking garage.

The commission voted to permit changes to the University of Pennsylvania master plan needed for construction of the building at 300 S. 33rd Street, which will serve as a patient-intake hub for surrounding medical facilities.

Plans include linking the new tower with Penn's existing hospital building complex and with the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

Construction will be done in multiple phases. It’s expected that the University of Pennsylvania Health System will begin razing Penn Tower this year to make way for construction of the new hospital.

The existing Penn Tower was originally built in 1975 as the Hilton Hotel of Philadelphia. The structure was later acquired by Penn and has housed a variety of offices and clinics for the Penn Health System.

Those operations and employees have or will be relocated to other sites in University City and in Center City in preparation of its eventual demolition.

L.F. Driscoll and Balfour Beatty Construction have been retained to oversee the building of the new Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania facility. Driscoll is a Philadelphia construction management firm owned by Structure Tone.

Balfour Beatty Construction is a national construction management firm based in Dallas. Driscoll has been a go-to firm for the health system in the past and has completed a deep list of projects for it.

The architectural firm Foster + Partners will design the estimated $1.5 billion project. Foster + Partners, based in London, is a world-renowned firm that also designed the Comcast Center for Innovation and Technology. L.F. Driscoll is also the general contractor on that $1.2 billion project.

HDR Inc., one of the leading health care architects, is also on the team. The innovative firm has designed medical and health related facilities across the United States and around the world.

The health system is one of Philadelphia’s largest employers and is a huge economic engine for the region. The health system and medical school together form a $4.3 billion enterprise and the area’s most profitable medical center.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Three Construction Projects Will Transform Temple University

Temple University is investing $300 million in new and upgraded facilities as part of a campus renaissance. Temple’s residential campus continues to evolve, with major construction projects bringing a new state-of-the-art library, a 35,000-seat football stadium, a health and wellness center and on-campus retail space. 

A new state-of-the art library 

The former site of Barton Hall will soon be home to Temple University’s new library, designed by Snøhetta, an architectural firm known for its innovative library designs, in partnership with Philadelphia-based design firm Stantec.

Demolition of the old Barton Hall was completed in March.

Plans include a library with more than 225,000-square-foot occupying a space approximately the size of a city block.

It will be bounded by Polett Walk to the south, Liacouras Walk to the west, Norris Street to the north and the Quad to the east.

A state-of-the art automated storage and retrieval system will allow the library to devote more square footage to learning spaces and less space to book stacks.
The new building will have dramatic arched entrances and a green roof, as well as a large, upper-level outdoor balcony space that will offer views of campus.

New Football Stadium

Temple University plans to construct a new 35,000-seat football stadium, with an estimated cost of $126 million, on the northwest corner of its main campus.

The multi-purpose stadium and retail complex will be bounded by Broad Street, Norris Street, 16th Street and Montgomery Avenue.

Temple has hired AECOM and architects Moody Nolan to design the project.

AECOM designed Florida Atlantic University's football stadium in 2012. At 29,419 seats, it's slightly smaller than Temple's stadium.

There are many reasons why the university is considering an on-campus stadium, including the long-term benefit of owning a stadium instead of renting one.

Owning a stadium is anticipated to result in net savings of approximately $3 million annually. That’s money that can be used for other priorities. The Philadelphia Eagles have been criticized for charging Temple $1 million a year to lease their stadium.

“Having our own stadium will help showcase our vibrant campus as we celebrate Temple’s accomplishments on and off the field," says Temple President Neil D. Theobald.

Temple Stadium will have a capacity of about 35,000—about half the size of Lincoln Financial Field, where the university now plays its home games.

The project promises to help revitalize North Broad Street and contribute to the North Philadelphia economy.

Construction will also include an adjacent practice facility and a student recreation building. Temple plans to begin construction of the facility in 2017.

Student Health and Wellness Center

Temple University will break ground this month on a new Student Health and Wellness Center—an academic, athletics and recreation facility that will provide space for students in the College of Public Health to hone their clinical skills along with space for recreational sports and weight training.

The centerpiece of the 95,000 square foot facility is the main entrance, angled toward the intersection of 15th Street and Montgomery Avenue.

A two-and-a-half-story glass atrium will greet pedestrians, who will enter the facility beneath a portion of an outdoor track that serves as a balcony above the main doors before returning to ground level around the perimeter of the building.

The multipurpose facility's academic area will have smart classrooms, laboratory spaces with the latest technology and lecture halls, as well as a unique apartment space where demonstrations can take place.

The new center will also have an indoor recreation area that includes a 70-yard synthetic turf field, a climbing wall and a juice bar.

The field is for use by the school's athletic teams, as well as participants in Temple's 36 club sports and 10 intramural sports. The recreation area will also offer twice the amount of free-weight space currently available to students. Outside, a track will be available to the public.

The targeted completion date is fall 2017. The architecture firm Moody Nolan designed the facility.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ridge Flats Gets Okay from City Planning Commission

Ridge Flats is a new mixed use development planned for 4300-4326 Ridge Avenue, at the Falls Bridge between Calumet Street and Kelly Drive.

The six-story building will be built on a 1.7-acre plot and offer 206 apartments and a parking garage with 194 parking spaces and bike parking spots.

It's a big project for East Falls, a hilly neighborhood known for its cozy row homes near Fairmount Park.

Included in the project is 20,188 square feet of round floor retail space, a corner café and a living green wall along the Kelly Drive side, which will incorporate a living art installation as part of the Percent for Art Program.

Building amenities will comprise of hotel-level furnishings included in 20 percent of the apartments, as well as a terraced rooftop on the second floor, complete with pool.

The 236,084-square-foot mixed-use complex was widely praised at a monthly Civic Design Review in Philadelphia.

The project will transform this section of the Schuylkill River banks, which currently features mostly parking lots and warehouses that have sat unused for years.

The developers, Onion Flats and Grasso Holdings, plan to begin construction this year

Designed by New York-based Morris Adjmi Architects, the project will seek Energy Star certification for low energy usage and sustainability, with rain gardens and solar panels.

Ridge Flats has been in the works since 2011 when the proposal, then originally just by local architects Onion Flats, was given the go ahead by authorities.