1900 Market St Street | 8th Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19103 | 215.546.6719 | email: centercity@centercityresidents.org   Travis Oliver, Operations Manager

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CCRA Updates

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  • 06 Dec 2019 11:11 AM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)

    City Council Poised to Modify Real Estate Tax Abatement Program: Limited time to Express your Views

    BACKGROUND:  Approximately 20 years ago, Philadelphia enacted a real estate tax abatement program designed to spur real estate development in the City.  Under that program, new construction, as well as improvements to residential, commercial, and industrial properties, are eligible for a 100% exemption from real estate taxes on the improved portion of a property (i.e., not the assessed value of the underlying land), for a period of 10 years.  Recently, the abatement program has been under attack.  The principal argument against the existing program is that it is no longer needed (i.e., development will take place with or without the abatement), and it is costing the City too much in foregone real estate taxes, 55% of which goes to the School District.  Additional criticism is that it encourages gentrification, and disproportionately benefits developers and luxury home/condo buyers.  Mayor Kenney has stated for the record that he favors no change to the current abatement program, but that if Council passes a reform measure, he will sign it.

    PROPOSAL:  On November 21, the last day that legislation could be introduced in City Council in time for passage before the next (and arguably more abatement-hostile) Council convenes in January, an abatement reform bill was introduced.  Bill 190944 would modify the existing abatement program for abatement applications applied for on or after July 1, 2020, but only with respect to new residential construction.  It does not change the existing program of 10 years of 100% tax abatement on the improved portion of the property for rehabs and commercial and industrial properties.  For new residential construction, the new program would still run for 10 years, but the value of the abatement would be reduced over time, starting at 100% exemption on the improved portion of the property in the first year, but decreasing by 10% in each subsequent year, so that in the tenth year, the abatement is only 10% and, thereafter, the exemption terminates. Notably, the Bill has a "Periodic Evaluation Requirement," requiring the retention of "an independent expert," at least once every three years, to evaluate the specific impact on the real estate market resulting from the modifications to the abatement program, as well as the overall impact of the unchanged exemptions for rehabs and commercial and industrial properties.  

    OPPORTUNITY TO WEIGH IN:  Fifteen of Council's 17 members were co-sponsors of Bill 190944.  On Tuesday, the entire Council membership, sitting as the Committee of the Whole, held a 4-hour hearing, during which, among other things, many amendments were suggested.  None of the suggested changes were presented for a vote, and the original version of the Bill was unanimously voted out of Committee.  Council's last voting session in 2019 is next Thursday, and it is expected that the Bill will be voted on at that time, after a public hearing.  Under Council rules, a bill can be amended on the floor prior to a final vote without sending that bill back to its committee for a further hearing, and it is still possible that this Bill will be amended. 

    Many members of the CCRA Board believe that the abatement program should be modified.  However, given the very limited time between the Nov. 21 introduction of this legislation and the expected Dec. 12 final vote (an obstacle compounded by the intervening Thanksgiving holiday), as well as the numerous possible permutations and combinations of any reform, we were skeptical that a timely consensus could be achieved.  Should you wish to weigh in, there are several ways to do so.  You can testify at City Council on Dec. 12.  The hearing is likely to start at 10:00 am and it would be best to call the Office of the Chief Clerk (215-686-3410) in advance to get your name on the list.  Alternatively, you can call or email any Councilperson.  Your call or email is likely to be handled by a staff person, but it should be conveyed, at least in summary form, to the Councilperson you are directing it to.  Click here for contact information for all Councilmembers.  Residents of CCRAville are represented by either Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) or Darrell Clarke (5th District), and there are seven At-Large Councilmembers who represent the entire City, rather than a specific District.

    ADDITIONAL READING:  For you policy wonks, on April 20, 2018, Controller Rebecca Rhynhart released a report about the abatement program, looking at its geographical concentration, distribution of its benefits, and developer profitability.  Her report also evaluated some potential changes to the program.    And in January of this year,  the City released a new study of the abatement  prepared by the consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which analyzed the impact of 10 different reform scenarios, while also considering a geographic requirement to abatement eligibility.



  • 06 Dec 2019 11:06 AM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)



    Following widespread concern about unsafe street conditions in the neighborhood and specifically a murder which occurred at 18th and Walnut Streets, CCRA convened a special meeting of residents to address these issues. The meeting was held at the Church of the Holy Trinity and was attended by over 200 people and several senior officers of the Philadelphia Police Department.  For more information and a summary of topics addressed, click or tap here


  • 07 Nov 2019 11:33 AM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)


    Fall is officially in full swing and so are the leaves falling to the ground.  As a reminder, it's the homeowner's responsibility to pick up the leaves on your property.  The City has a "Fall Leaf Recycling Program" that runs from 11/12 to 12/21 - Saturdays only.  The closest area to drop off your bagged leaves is located at Broad and Christian Streets. The leaves must be in large brown biodegradable bags and it cannot have any garbage and recyclable items in them.  


  • 07 Nov 2019 11:32 AM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)

    SEPTA and the City are testing a new traffic signal at the corner of 15th and Market streets designed to give buses a three-second head start over traffic. It's called a "queue jump signal."  Officials hope that bringing the signals to busy bus corridors will help improve service and ease congestion in Center City. 

    Starting this month, SEPTA drivers approaching 15th and Market in the bus lane heading eastbound heed to the new LED traffic signal, which uses a white bar that tells them to stop or go. Drivers know to brake when the bar is horizontal and move again once it switches to vertical. Drivers have three seconds to forge ahead into the intersection before the green light blinks on for other vehicles. The three-second head-start is enough to prevent buses from getting blocked in by other vehicles at the intersection. 


  • 04 Nov 2019 4:33 PM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)




    I recently joined officers of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association in a meeting with Liz Hersh, the director of the City's Office of Homeless Services, (OHS)  and Paul Levy, director of the Center City District (CCD).  Both meetings were to discuss the issue of homelessness and panhandling in the neighborhood, which CCD statistics show, has been getting worse the last few years.  Obviously, the causes of homelessness are many, but most involve some combination of mental health issues, drug use, and lack of employment.  While the long-term answer is more funding for outreach, social services and shelters/housing, OHS has put together a flyer on who to call when you see someone who needs help.  Please use this guide linked here. If there is a particularly problematic individual that appears to be homeless and is causing a public disruption (ex: severely mentally ill), please email the office  describing the individual and the behavior. Put "Homeless" in the subject line. We will forward a description of the individual to OHS on your behalf. If you are interested in working on a small task force to address the homeless issues, please contact the office.

    I am glad to report that the Blatstein House Tour was a complete success. All told, we grossed $25,500. When expenses were deducted, the organization netted $21,964, 10K more than the Fall of 2018 house tour. And a good time was had by all! 

    But house tour purists, don't despair. CCRA is organizing the traditional house tour, now House and Garden Tour, for the Spring of 2020, and your help is needed! A committee is assembling, and has 4 houses and 1 garden, but more homes and gardens are needed! As are Sponsors, writers/editors/graphic designers, and 100 Day-Of Volunteers. So don't be shy if you want to help. 

    Maggie Mund, CCRA President

  • 31 Oct 2019 12:31 PM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)


    Captain Hooven guesses the number of cheese balls in the bottle at CCRA table at Schuylkill River Park Fall Festival

    Thank you to all who came out to the Fall Festival last Saturday. Many stopped by our table to discuss the issues going on in the neighborhood with Captain Hooven of the 9th District. Captain Hooven reported that the thief who had been actively breaking into residences in the neighborhood had been apprehended, so that particular issue should be addressed for now.

    Our cheese ball contest. was a big hit--over 50 people entered to play!  One little girl guessed 16 cheese balls were in the container--when asked by one of our board members why she guessed 16, she responded that 16 was as high as she could count!  (The winning number was 740--she had a way to go!)

    We hope you enjoyed meeting and talking with our CCRA volunteers and we look forward to seeing you at our next event.  


  • 10 Oct 2019 12:35 PM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)

    Businesses seeking liquor licenses are required to post a large, orange poster, in landscape, when they are seeking a liquor license.  Neighbors within 500 feet have thirty (30) days from the date of posting to protest the license by sending a letter to the state liquor board saying they oppose the license, as the LCB explains here.  Protesting a license starts a process that (as a practical matter) will cause the applicant to contact the protestors to address their concerns (usually, noise, crowding).  CCRA can help you with your protest, if you like.  Call or email the office saying you have a liquor issue.  CCRA itself is UNABLE protest a license application under PA liquor law.  License applicants are NOT required to contact CCRA and usually don't.  Once the poster goes up, YOU have to take action.  Again, CCRA can help you but can't do anything with you. 


  • 10 Oct 2019 12:23 PM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)

    Be alert

    This morning, a CCRA member email us to report a suspicious person located on the 2300 block of Delancey, carrying a suitcase, tried to enter her home.  She was home at the time but the person didn't ring the bell. Be careful and keep your doors locked at all times. 


  • 10 Oct 2019 10:26 AM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)

    Another Suspicious Person Spotted. Be alert!

    This morning, a CCRA member email us to report a suspicious person located on the 2300 block of Delancey, carrying a suitcase, and tried to enter the home.  The member was home at the time and wasn't expecting any visitors. Be careful and keep your doors locked at all times. 

    Dog Attack between Delancey and Pine

    Earlier this week, a 3-month old puppy, was attacked and killed on 21st Street between Delancey and Pine Streets by a pitbull being walked by a dog walker.  If you are walking your pup, make sure you pick it up if you spot a bigger dog.  If you're walking a bigger dog, be careful if you see any smaller dogs in your vicinity.  Please be mindful so a horrific tragedy like this does not happen again.  If a dog attacks you or your pet, call the police immediately and contact Animal Control.  



  • 02 Aug 2019 2:53 PM | Travis Oliver (Administrator)


    Ed Hille - Inquirer Photographer

    Ed Hille - Inquirer Photographer

    The Chestnut Street bridge over the Schuylkill is closing next week, and it won't be open to traffic again for a year.


    The bridge needs repairs, including repairing and repainting the steel superstructure and replacing the deck. The structure also will be upgraded with a bike lane, wider sidewalks, and decorative railings. 


    For more information, click or tap here.


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