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RECAP: Looking back on the week that was
• New developments rising in Philadelphia
Two huge new developments at opposite sides of Center City were officially announced this week. Rivermark Northern Liberties is the name for the new mixed-use complex on the Delaware riverfront, bringing residences, retail, and public space to the former Festival Pier. Across town at 20th and Arch, officials confirmed plans for a new office tower for insurance giant Chubb, which will rise 20 stories and create over 1,000 new jobs. [Billy Penn/PhillyVoice]
• Sixers arena controversy continues
There’s also a huge development planned for the middle of downtown — but many are still skeptical. The new Sixers arena would take over a section of the flailing Fashion District, turning it into a sports complex that could also host concerts. No new parking is planned, as it’s basically on top of Philly’s biggest transit hub. It’s not in Chinatown proper, but the neighborhood has been burned before (see: I-676 construction), and pushback was obvious in a heated community meeting with hundreds of attendees. [BP x 4]
• Crowded fields for mayor and Council
Another mayoral candidate has entered the race: A week after his NYC developer backer teased the announcement, state Rep. Amen Brown made it official last week. Here’s what to know about the unorthodox Democrat. Meanwhile, the cadre of City Council candidates is growing by the date, with heavy interest in the at-large seats and also some challengers for the district incumbents. Here’s the list so far. [BP x 2]
• Elf on the Shelf, but make it Philly
In some homes, the “Elf on a Shelf” is a holiday tradition. Parents place it in different spots throughout December, with the idea that it “watches” children to make sure they’re being good and reports back to the North Pole. Others find the whole idea kind of creepy. Billy Penn skipped over all that and went hard for the meme — can you guess these Philly rhymes? [Woman’s Day/NYT$/Billy Penn]
• Hanukkah parade and ‘world’s largest’ menorah
However you spell it, happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate! A parade wound through Philadelphia last night, starting on the Ben Franklin Parkway and finishing at Independence Mall, which is host to what organizers call the world’s largest menorah. New York is also staking that claim, but the Grand Army Plaza version is 36 feet tall, while the one near the Liberty Bell has been clocked at 40 feet. Sorry, NYC. [BP 2017/Chabad of Penn Wynne/ABC27/6ABC]
VISION: Looking forward to the week ahead
• FBI to announce breakthrough in West Philly gun ring
City officials will join FBI agents Monday to announce what they call “significant developments” in tracking a West Philly street group they’ve connected to shootings and straw purchases over the past few years. The city is on track to end the year with fewer homicides than 2021 — absolutely good news — but shootings overall have barely declined, as BP’s Danya Henninger discussed on the CityCast Philly pod. [Axios/CityCast]
• New school board president
For the first time since the city got back local control — the state-run School Reform Commission was dissolved in 2018 — the Philadelphia Board of Education voted for new leadership. For one year going forward, Reginald Streater is school board president, and Mallory Fix-Lopez is VP. Education advocates hope having two school parents in charge will lead to progress. [BP 2017/WHYY]
• Pay for SEPTA rides with your phone
Have people coming to visit for the holidays? It’s now much easier to get around via public transit. SEPTA just opened its mobile ticketing pilot to anyone who wants to download the beta version of the app. You can buy a bus, subway, or trolley pass for up to five people at once, and swipe everyone through using a QR code. Here’s how SEPTA Key Tix works. [Billy Penn]
• Locally roasted coffee = last-minute gift
So you’re a week out from Christmas, and there are still a few names on your list. Given that 7 in 10 Americans drink coffee weekly (about 60% do it daily) a fresh roast is a versatile fallback. The bean scene in Philly has exploded in recent years — here are five great options for gifts you can snag this week. [Billy Penn]