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Messages - stephen

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From what I understand, PADNA is fairly happy with this news.  They are going to alter the size of the windows-- because who wants to live in a cave?  But beyond that, the structure's form is going to remain unaltered.

The Harsimus Cove Association has published their observations on how to improve the process of installing a new stop sign.

News / Re: Group hopes to rid Jersey City of plastic bags
« on: 04-23-2014, 11:13am »
Candice Osborne floated the idea of revisiting legislation to ban plastic bags.

Downtown / Re: Expansion of Grove Plaza to Barrow Street
« on: 04-14-2014, 09:39am »
Some more thoughts on this.  I'm a bit worried about the increased traffic on First and Second that will result due to people who would have otherwise used Newark Avenue to get to/from Grove & Marin.  I don't get a sense of how much more that would be, but it's something to consider.  It's possible that the 1st St problem could be mitigated by an inhospitable left turn ala "The Kessler".  I don't know if this would work for 2nd St as drivers wouldn't approach the obstacle until the end of their journey.

Downtown / Re: Expansion of Grove Plaza to Barrow Street
« on: 04-12-2014, 02:18pm »
Ok, so now that I know more about what's proposed, this is a great idea. 

My traffic concerns are no longer.  In fact closing Erie between Newark and Bay will make Erie Street far less attractive as a shortcut for traffic going to the tunnel.  Changing Barrow into a one-way street southbound between Newark and Columbus will help move traffic onto Columbus.  The fact that many drivers currently drive eastbound on Newark until they hit Grove, then turn right, and then turn left on Columbus, provides for a huge log jam in the morning.  Add in all the pedestrians and cyclists going to the PATH station and you have a big problem.  This also solves that.

While I am a bit concerned about the 24/7/365 nature of this change (for a year during pilot phase), given that this closure also involves the above changes, there really is no opportunity to only do this on the weekends.

I still think that having activities on the new pedestrian plaza will be important to fully realizing the potential of the plaza and adequately measuring the viability of the plaza as a permanent feature.

More information at this link including the ordinances the council is considering for approval.

Downtown / Re: Expansion of Grove Plaza to Barrow Street
« on: 04-11-2014, 06:53pm »
The proposal says to Barrow. That means traffic heading east would need to make the right on Barrow, and would not be able to make the left on Erie, as that portion would now be for pedestrian use. They could even make Barrow two lanes one way, spilling out onto Columbus.


Downtown / Re: Expansion of Grove Plaza to Barrow Street
« on: 04-11-2014, 06:36pm »
I like the idea, with a couple of caveats:

1. I don't think a full closure (24/7/365) is a good if in fact that's what the plan calls for.  I'd first like to see closing it for the weekends during the warm months to see how things go.

2.  The City should plan events (farmer's market, other market, bands, entertainment, street basketball, whatever) to create a draw to that now unused space to "make it" into something else.

3.  I'm concerned that eastbound traffic is now going to turn left on Erie to work their way through to Grove.  This would create an unwanted traffic pattern onto Erie then onto First (right turn) and then on to Grove (right turn).  The residents of the are all too aware of the pedestrian nightmare that is First & Erie.

Bonus points for the illegally parked car.

Restaurants & Bars / Re: COMING SOON: Blue Lotus
« on: 03-30-2014, 10:28am »
I feel that if the food and service is solid, the cuisine is right for this spot.

Restaurants & Bars / Re: COMING SOON: Blue Lotus
« on: 03-30-2014, 09:04am »
Ah, good scoop.  I have been wondering for quite some time what would be going in there.

I read the ordinance and except for the 20-foot panhandling restrictions from outdoor seating, banks/ATMs, public buildings and mass transportation stops/facilities, I don't see a big problem with this. It doesn't prohibit begging -- just repeated begging, blocking the sidewalk, touching, threatening, cursing and following the panhandlee. I guess trusting that JCPD will enforce the law properly is the key.

"Blocking the sidewalk" is one that can be easily abused.  And the other items constitute harassment whether asking for money or not -- whether you have a home or not.

I noticed the difference in pricing and selection after they reopened their Monmouth storefront.  There is always something there that I want.

Is that a bad thing? A strip mall in an urban environment is a poor use of space, even in that no-man's-land. It's always been populated by the kind of places you only go to if you have to, the areas next to the parking lot are unbelievably degraded, it's no fun walking through there, it doesn't feel safe... There has been a high vacancy rate there for at least the last ten years.

I wish they'd level and build row housing with mix-use facilities.

Journal Square / Re: Loew's Jersey Theatre
« on: 03-17-2014, 06:02pm »
Live Nation granted permit to gut Boyd Theater

By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
POSTED: March 16, 2014

The Philadelphia Historical Commission on Friday granted Live Nation permission to gut the lavish interior of Center City's landmark Boyd Theater, opening the way for the building's sale to a Florida entertainment company and the construction of a high-end multiplex on Chestnut Street.

As the 9-1 vote was announced, chants of "Save the Boyd" rang out in the packed hearing room. About 50 theater supporters, who had listened stoically to four hours of detailed testimony on the physical state of the theater and the challenges of converting it to a nonprofit cultural venue, denounced the commission's ruling, calling it a misreading of Philadelphia's preservation law.

The Boyd, which was one of Philadelphia's most glamorous and ornate movie palaces when it opened on Christmas 1928, has suffered multiple setbacks since it closed in 2002 and has been slated for demolition at least once before. But Friday's decision to grant Live Nation "financial hardship" appears to be the most ominous development yet.

Howard Haas, head of Friends of the Boyd, immediately announced plans to appeal, saying: "We believe the commission used the wrong legal standard."

Preservation Alliance director Carolyn E. Boyce said she would ask her board for permission to join Haas' appeal.

In granting relief under the city's financial-hardship provision, the commission accepted Live Nation's argument that it was not economically feasible to repurpose the 2,400-seat theater in its current form. While financial hardship is not the same as decertification, it enables the owner to modify the building substantially.

Live Nation, which has a market capitalization of $4.65 billion, said its buyer, Philadelphia developer Neil Rodin, demanded the hardship provision as a condition of the sale. Rodin is teaming up with Florida movie operator iPic to create an eight-screen multiplex on the site.

They promise to retain and restore the Boyd's narrow limestone facade at 1910 Chestnut St., along with the original glass shop windows at the theater's entrance. But to accommodate the eight screening rooms, they intend to demolish the Boyd's art deco heart - its etched-glass lobby and exuberant, multicolored auditorium, designed by the noted theater architects Hoffman & Henon.

The proposal sent shock waves through the preservation community, which has spent decades trying to save the last of Center City's great movie palaces. In 2008, the National Trust named the Boyd one of the 11 most-endangered historic buildings in the United States.

What particularly upset preservationists during the recent hardship hearings was the suggestion that Philadelphia's historic buildings must pay their own way or risk losing their full landmark status.

"Historic buildings have a hard time proving that they are cheap to operate," said David Brownlee, an architectural historian and a former commission member.

In Hollywood style, Haas announced at the eleventh hour last month that he had secured an anonymous benefactor willing to buy the Boyd for $4.5 million - the same price Rodin and iPic had offered. The friends group believes the Boyd could be converted into a multiuse nonprofit cultural center or, perhaps, an Imax theater.

Haas argued that the mere existence of the donor's offer should have "nullified" Live Nation's hardship claim, since it proved that the building's sale was possible.

Although the donor has insisted on remaining anonymous, he sent a representative Friday to speak on his behalf, lawyer Peter Hearn, a former chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Hearn has long been associated with the William Penn Foundation and its lead philanthropist, David Haas, a descendant of the family that founded Rohm & Haas Co. (David Haas is not related to Howard Haas.)

"I hope my presence reassures you that the donor has the assets to buy the theater," Hearn told the commission.

But from their questions, it was clear that the members took the view that the iPic project was the city's best hope of salvaging a portion of the historic theater, albeit only a thin slice. A sizable contingent of Rittenhouse Square residents agreed with the commission.

The commission heard testimony from representatives of several Chestnut Street apartment houses, the Center City Residents Association, and the Rittenhouse Row retail association - all in support of demolition and the iPic project.

They complained that the Boyd was a blight that was bringing down the block. One neighbor, Richard Gross, held up an iPad with the image of a dead rat on the sidewalk in front of the theater as evidence that the building was beyond repair.

Preservation architect Robert Powers dismissed such claims as shortsighted. He said he had just converted Wilmington's Queen Theater into a World Cafe Live, and "it was in a lot worse shape."

The Boyd's Fortunes Through the Years
1928 Opened on Christmas as the city's only art deco first-run movie palace.

1971 Sold to the Sameric Corp., which renamed it the SamEric.

1993 "Philadelphia" has its world premiere at the theater. It was the Boyd's last gala: In 2002, the former movie palace went dormant.

2002 After the Philadelphia Historical Commission refuses to list it on the historic register, developer Ken Goldenberg obtains an over-the-counter demolition permit.

2005 Live Nation buys the Boyd with plans to turn it into a Broadway-style theater.

2008 Developer Hal Wheeler unveils a plan to incorporate the theater into a hotel development.

2010 Wheeler dies of a heart attack, and his plan is abandoned.

2013 Live Nation makes a deal with developer Neil Rodin to build an iPic multiplex. The plan calls for gutting the Boyd's majestic interior and requires a "financial hardship" demolition permit.

March 14 The Historical Commission grants hardship demolition permit.

Downtown / Re: Harsimus Cove Association Meeting
« on: 03-08-2014, 09:57am »

Journal Square / Re: Loew's Jersey Theatre
« on: 03-03-2014, 03:59pm »
FOL's director said he showed the city officials how to turn the lights on. The city said they didn't know how to turn on the lights.

And he's also complained that the city was messing with their equipment. It's a turf war.

I can still see my Fix It request, a week later.

It's good case management to "acknowledge" an issue that includes an expected date of resolution.  Training/process issue, but an important part of "the system" nonetheless.

Downtown / Re: The EMBANKMENT
« on: 02-20-2014, 10:21pm »
Fulop broke Healy, and so go the spoils.

Downtown / Re: The EMBANKMENT
« on: 02-20-2014, 09:46pm »
And a tongue-lashing for Hyman!  Dude is a total jerk.

If have I had to hear the gadflies droning on and on and on meeting after meeting after meeting I might be inclined to do the same. The irony being that they themselves are limiting speech by their incessant grandstanding.  IMHO.

Groceries, Bakeries & Delis / Re: Mod Cup Coffee Bar
« on: 02-19-2014, 08:58am »
Soft opening today from 8am-2pm.

Bottom-line, plow the f-in streets properly and we wouldn't be in this mess. This city has had plenty of large snow storms and the one thing that separates this year from prior years is the fact that we did a better job clearing the streets during and after each storm.

Eighth snowiest year on record.  I believe that this qualifies as a statistical outlier.

My street has been plowed atleast once every two hours when it was snowing... This isn't about lack of resources, it is about lack of managing those resources.

However prudent that may have been, surely people would have been complaining about their street not being plowed enough. And it's impossible/very difficult to know just how much more snow is coming, so you run the risk of being ineffective at keeping the streets clear. Oh, the irony. :drama:

I support our current mayor and I wish him well but I can't help but feel that had this happened under the previous administration Councilman Fulop would be pooping bricks by now.

I think you're right. And I will admit to giving Fulop more slack than Healy, but that's because I see what Fulop is trying to do versus what Healy was trying not to do-- over all.  I'm not going try to Monday morning quarterback every incident, I'll measure over the long term.

My street has been plowed atleast once every two hours when it was snowing... This isn't about lack of resources, it is about lack of managing those resources.

However prudent that may have been, surely people would have been complaining about their street not being plowed enough. And it's impossible/very difficult to know just how much more snow is coming, so you run the risk of being ineffective at keeping the streets clear. Oh, the irony. :drama:

I think it's unreasonable to expect the city to be ready for every contingency. This is the eighth snowiest winter ever. I can't imagine how much more money it would cost to be prepared for these sorts of outlier events all the time. 

Yes, there are plenty of areas for improvement such as better training, better execution, better prioritization, etc.  And yes, there's plenty of frustration when considering the amount we pay in taxes and services we get as constituents. 

I also have no problem helping my City identify where the problems are-- we "on the street" citizens are an incredible asset to the City when we report problems. They are too busy fixing things to be looking for more problems. If we can identify the problems, it makes them more efficient.

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