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I thought I'd start a new thread dealing with new and interesting developments in center city (philly talk for downtown). I'll try to update as I find more info. Maybe I'll even get out side and take a few pics of some of the projects in progress. That might be a strech, we'll see.

"Posted on Sun, Feb. 06, 2005

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Changing Skyline | Designs on the high life

Philadelphia goes vertical again with condos catering to the monied classes. That means taller, fatter skyscrapers, some stylish, others insipid.

By Inga Saffron

Inquirer Architecture Critic

Clearing the Record

This story, about plans for new high-rise apartment buildings, as well as a caption with the story, misidentified an existing building. The name of the riverfront apartment house at 24th and Chestnut Streets is 2400 Chestnut Street. This story has been corrected.

Something is happening to the low-rise city. Philadelphia, the preserve of the rowhouse, is going vertical at its core.

Hardly a month goes by that a developer isn't floating a plan to squeeze a 30- or 40-story residential tower into the tight blocks of Center City. Many of these proposals are pie in the sky, but at least eight projects are in serious motion, and they promise to remake more than the skyline.

Because the skyscraper is the most modern of buildings, the sprinkling of new towers is sure to add a potent dash of modernity to a city that holds dear its sober red-brick traditions. The new skyscrapers are taller and bulkier than the earlier generations of Philadelphia high-rises: Blame buyers' demands for soaring ceilings and on-site parking. No doubt, some Center City residents will view these colossi as big-footed intruders.

Philadelphia is hardly the only city marked by skyscraper cranes. For a host of demographic reasons, condo towers are rising in cities that have rarely seen tall apartment houses, from Nashville to San Diego. While Philadelphia is on track to gain a respectable 2,000 units, San Francisco may add as many as 7,400. Yet even Philadelphia's numbers are likely to accelerate a process that urban expert Alan Ehrenhalt calls inversion, where downtowns are populated predominantly by the rich and the poor are forced to the fringes.

The good news in Philadelphia is that the new skyscrapers are a largely stylish and urbane group - especially compared with designs in other downtowns. Despite some clumsy assemblages of historical parts, most have the virtue of clean, sleek lines. A few even aspire to artful design.

One reason for the improved designs is that today's tall buildings cater to monied buyers with cosmopolitan tastes, unlike the utilitarian towers built during Philadelphia's second wave of high-rise construction, from the late 1960s through the '80s. Those were seen as residences for people who ultimately would move to the 'burbs.

There is no doubt that the 45-story St. James, which opened last year overlooking Washington Square, set a high baseline for Philadelphia. An unabashedly modern skyscraper, the St. James' interiors have a loftlike feeling because of their high ceilings and big windows, which have become standard in today's condos.

The most exciting new design comes from the office of Richard Meier & Partners, of New York, which elevated the residential high-rise to a high art with its crisp glass towers on Perry Street in Manhattan. The firm, best known for the Getty Center in Los Angeles, was hired by a young developer, Charles X. Block, to design a Philadelphia version at 24th and Walnut Streets, on the parking lot of the former Rosenbluth Travel.

Block inherited that clumsily renovated midrise - and a chunk of money - after his family sold the company to American Express in 2003. It is a large site, with breathtaking views. Meier's design architect, Michael Palladino, who oversaw the Getty, took one look at the property and knew that a Perry Street clone wouldn't do.

Palladino is now at work on a thin slab, a vertical mille-feuille of concrete and glass that will hover like a spire over the Schuylkill River Park. Palladino is still tweaking models of the 41-story building, but even in its unfinished state it looks like Philadelphia's best high-rise. You can detect a bit of the PSFS tower in its ancestry, but there is nothing literal in those references - a sign of true creativity.

Unlike its neighbor, the generic 2400 Chestnut St., which turns a fat face to the river, Palladino's design would present its slim side to the water. In doing so, the luxury tower, which is to have full-floor units, would preserve public views of the river from Sansom Street. As proposed, the project makes other generous public gestures: Block says he plans to renovate the ugly exterior of the adjacent Rosenbluth building, install retail stores along Walnut Street, and open a Laurie Olin-landscaped rooftop restaurant. All the parking will go underground, Block says.

One big issue the designers must resolve is how the building will integrate with the river path. The other high-rise going up along the ribbon park, a 12-story building by Bower Lewis Thrower at 23d and Race Streets, foolishly ignores its water link.

BLT is responsible for the worst of the new skyscraper designs, Symphony House, which is already taking deposits for condos at Broad and Pine Streets. Set on a wide garage base, the 31-story tower has a nautical profile similar to BLT's Dockside on Columbus Boulevard, and portholes around the garage cornice. But the confused tower is clownishly crowned by the roof of a French chateau, while the entrance is marked by vaguely classical arches. The only redeeming feature is that the base will provide space for the Philadelphia Theatre Company.

A new Rittenhouse Square tower by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, due to break ground at 18th and Sansom Streets in April, also is based on historical precedents, but at least the parts are gracefully composed. The 33-story brick high-rise uses the same deferential neo-Georgian style as many proper towers that went up in Philadelphia in the 1920s. They have a modesty that seems deeply Philadelphian. When you look at the first wave of residential towers - built before the 1929 stock market crash - it's hard to find more than a handful that dazzle. But none are awful, either.

Still, it's unfortunate that the Stern high-rise doesn't have a more contemporary appearance. One of the nice things about Rittenhouse Square is that its apartment towers are an encyclopedia of styles, one from every decade of the 20th century. This decade deserves an entry of its own time, too.

The proposal for a slim 31-story tower at 17th Street at Rittenhouse Square shows that there is a market for the urbanely modern. Designed by David Ertz of Cope Linder, it has a white geometric composition like the St. James, but with a more formal limestone base. It's a singleton version of the double tower Ertz designed at 15th and Chestnut, but benefits from having underground parking. Unfortunately, a blank vertical strip ruins its north facade.

Along with Ertz's two quiet designs, the problematic Residences at the Ritz-Carlton also has embraced a contemporary language. It's a bit too glassy and anonymous for condos - and its garage is an ugly monster. But, together with Palladino's waterfront building, it's a sign that Philadelphia's condo fever also has design ambitions.

Inga Saffron's column appears the first Sunday of the month in Currents. Other weeks, look for it in the Friday Home & Design section. Contact her at 215-854-2213 or [email protected]. Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/ ingasaffron."

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This is and image of a new condominuim going through zoning for Rittenhouse Sq. There is a large group of neighbors and businesses opposed to the building. The image is being used by the locals to fight the new projects as they believe it to be too large for the square. I think it will be built but probably much samller than the current 31 story version shown here.

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Finally some much needed development along the cities west river.

Posted on Sat, Dec. 18, 2004

Editorial | Riverfront Development Happy trails and more

With good reason, the agency working to revitalize the Schuylkill riverfront uses "Rediscover the hidden river" as one slogan. "When people say 'Schuylkill' around Philadelphia, they mean the expressway. The river doesn't even come into it," explains Louise Turan, executive director at the Schuylkill River Development Corp.

Only on a regatta day does any stretch of the river through the city come to life. And that's mostly limited to the northern reaches, from the Museum of Art up to the area of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge.

To the south, long stretches of the river - hemmed in by industrial sites, the expressway, and stark bridges that discourage pedestrians and cyclists - might as well be covered by a culvert.

Turan's group, though, is changing that - in big ways. With oversight by influential leaders from business, the public sector, Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, Schuylkill River Development is coordinating an astounding $2.5 billion development effort between the Fairmount Water Works and the Delaware River. Wisely hired as the project's chief executive officer was the city's chief engineer and surveyor, Joseph R. Syrnick.

Along the lower riverfront, the first ribbon-cutting was last spring's opening of the 1.2-mile Schuylkill River Park trail, which runs from the Art Museum to Locust Street.

Now attention turns to rebuilding the South Street bridge, and to extending the trail from Locust to South, then over to the river's west side. Ultimately, historic Bartram's Garden and Fort Mifflin would be linked by a greenway reaching all the way up to the Route 422 corridor in Montgomery County.

The agency's focus, though - in step with Mayor Street's river strategy - is much broader than just providing joggers and cyclists with better river vistas. Another of its smart goals is to get people out on the water along the Schuylkill's lower reaches. That starts with the construction - in a year or so - of docks at Bartram's and Chestnut Street. Not only recreational use but commercial tours are among the hoped-for spin-offs.

Equally important is what happens above the river - at several bridge crossings that, as they are rebuilt in turn, need to be beautified and made more pedestrian-friendly. At South Street, the classy bridge design being promoted by the Schuylkill group will create an attractive and functional link between downtown and Penn.

Even grander visions extend to 30th Street Station, where Penn's eventual takeover of the main post office suggests the area can be transformed into what Syrnick's group calls "a landmark public plaza" - close to transit, universities, and new office space such as the Cira Centre.

One recurring challenge will be to cope with the riverfront's industrial past and present: whether it's seeking City Hall intervention to convert properties that blight the revival, or making sure that CSX railroad freight traffic and park trail users coexist.

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Clear channel has gotten involved to save Philly last historical theater on chestnut street.

New plan to save the Boyd

No city or state $ involved in developers' proposal


[email protected]

The Goldenberg Group and Clear Channel Radio have re-engineered their proposed restoration of the old Boyd Theater at 19th and Chestnut streets, and this time the deal works without any state or city money.

A Commerce Department source said the revised deal gives Clear Channel complete ownership of the property. The company will detail its plans today in a news conference with Mayor Street.

"I'm sure the mayor will voice his strong support for the project," the source said.

Sources said the historic movie house - also called the Sam Eric - will be restored to its past glory and then some.

The overhaul, expected to be completed by late 2006, will create a 2,400-seat theater for touring Broadway shows. It will be capable of handling the biggest productions for extended runs.

Goldenberg had sought $18.9 million in government subsidies for the $33 million plan last year, but was snubbed by both the city and state.

City Council was decidedly chilly to the idea of $6.4 million in Tax Increment Financing for the Boyd's restoration. TIF critics questioned the size of the subsidy, which accounted for more than half of the project costs.

Meanwhile, operators of the Kimmel Center and other Center City arts venues were hostile to the idea of competition from a highly subsidized mega-theater. Last year, the Boyd competed with the Kimmel Center and the Academy to book Disney's "The Lion King" for 2006; the Boyd had hoped to book the blockbuster musical as its opening act. Disney chose a 12-week run at the Academy instead.

When state money for the renovation of the Boyd failed to make Gov. Rendell's capital budget wish list last June, the project had to be retooled.

Despite the controversy, John Gallery, a board member of Friends of the Boyd and respected preservationist, said the Boyd's restoration will be create a major tourist attraction for the city.

"The theater is an absolutely unique, art-deco movie palace," Gallery said. "It could become a reason to visit the city."

The Daily News joined the community battle to save the Boyd in 2003, when Goldenberg wanted to tear it down.

Councilman Darrell Clarke, in whose district the Boyd is situated, said he had worked with the developer to resolve community concerns about the types of shows to be booked at the Boyd.

"We have a commitment not to have rock concerts or things of that nature," Clarke said.

Clarke said the revised finance package is much better deal for the city than it was a year ago.

"I'm extremely excited about this development and happy that we can accommodate the interests of the residents in the area and the theater industry," Clarke said. "This will give the city the chance to bring first-run, top-quality shows to the city on a consistent basis."

A source at the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. said the project may qualify for federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits, which the developers could sell to raise additional financing.

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The Barnes collection moving to the parkway. Very good news!!!!

Montco Judge Approves Move of Barnes Collection to Philadelphia

by KYW's John Ostapkovich

A Montgomery County judge has given the OK to move the Barnes Foundation's famed multi-billion-dollar art collection from its hard-to-visit suburban gallery (right) to a new museum in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia officials are ecstatic. The decision handed down Monday by Montgomery County Orphans Court judge Stanley Ott could be huge for Philadelphia tourism and at least some of the art community.

The Barnes Foundation sought the move even though the trust of its founder expressly forbids it. That's why the whole matter ended up in the lap of Judge Stanley Ott. He ruled that the foundation's declining finances made the current situation unsalvageable.

The Barnes was going broke in its current location on North Latches Lane in Merion, Montgomery County. In most circumstances, moving to the art district on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway would be a no-brainer. It would get more visitors, and it has offers of $150 million to ease the transition.

What stood in its way? Several art students point out that Barnes formed his foundation expressly forbidding moving the collection.

Judge Ott, however, found that circumstances dictated breaking Barnes' indenture and approving the move.

Attorney Terry Kline represents three Barnes art students opposing the move:

"We are disapointed with the court's result today. My clients, students of the Barnes Foundation, presented a very compelling case against breaking the Barnes trust, but from the beginning we acknowledged an uphill battle against the Pew offer of $150 million."

The Pew Charitable Trusts is one of three big name institutions that guaranteed to raise the money for the Barnes to move to center city Philadelphia.

Kline says the judge's order barred his clients from appealing, but they might appeal that aspect of the ruling -- or go to Pennsylvania Superior Court for relief.

And there's the issue that one proposed site for the new Barnes museum is currently a baseball field, and area residents don't seem pleased at the prospect of losing it.

KYW's Mike Dunn reports that at Philadelphia City Hall and in the local tourism bureau, officials are celebrating.

A Barnes Museum on the Parkway could attract hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, joining the Art Museum, the Rodin Museum, and a proposed Alexander Calder Museum.

Robert Nix, chairman of the Fairmount Park Commission (which oversees the Parkway), is thrilled:

"We always thought it was a good idea to group as many cultural institutions in one space for critical mass as we could. And clearly with the Art Museum, the Rodin Museum and the coming of the Calder museum, and all the other academies and science centers on the Parkway, it always seemed like a very natural fit."

Meryl Levitz of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation says her group won

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Maybe good for Philly, bad for the burgh?

Posted on Wed, Feb. 23, 2005

Janney agrees to buy Pittsburgh firm

The acquisition of Parker/Hunter Inc. would create one of the nation's largest regional full-service investment concerns.

By Henry J. Holcomb

Inquirer Staff Writer

Janney Montgomery Scott L.L.C., of Philadelphia, the big regional securities broker and dealer, said it had agreed to buy Parker/Hunter Inc., of Pittsburgh, for an undisclosed price.

If shareholders and regulators approve the deal, Janney, a unit of Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., would become one of the nation's largest regional full-service investment firms.

Janney officials said the acquisition was part of a long-term strategy begun two years ago to expand its geographic reach.

Parker has 21 offices in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia and 130 financial advisers. Janney has 80 offices and nearly 900 consultants, giving the firm a presence from Massachusetts to Florida and more than 350,000 clients, the companies said.

As the deal was being announced, however, an undisclosed number of Parker executives said they were leaving to form Raptor L.L.C., an independent investment-banking firm. Craig A. Wolfanger, who headed Parker's investment-banking department, will be its senior managing director.

The move comes as many analysts report that a growing number of companies hold large amounts of cash and predict this will accelerate the pace of mergers and acquisitions. This makes it a good time to form an independent investment-banking firm, Wolfanger said in a statement.

Walter J. Westhead Jr., Janney's spokesman, said he was aware of the Wolfanger-led defections but would not comment.

Parker will operate independently while shareholders and regulators review the deal. By late summer or fall, according to the agreement, it will become a division of Janney and fully integrated into the Janney operation, Westhead said.

A new brand for the Parker offices will be developed that includes both the Parker/Hunter and Janney names, Westhead said.

James W. Wolitarsky, 59, Janney's chairman, president and chief executive officer, will remain president and chief executive. He will pass the chairman's title to Robert W. Kampmeinert, 61, who has been chairman of Parker since 1991.

Janney was founded in Philadelphia in 1832 and has the second-oldest seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Its 550-person corporate headquarters is at 1801 Market St.

Over the last three decades, Janney has grown through internal expansion from its base in the Middle Atlantic and New England regions southward to Florida. This is its first expansion by acquisition in decades, Westhead said.

But more acquisitions may come soon. "We're still in growth mode," he said.

Independently owned Parker was established in Pittsburgh in 1902 as Kay, Richards & Co. After a series of mergers, it became known as Parker/Hunter in 1969.

Kampmeinert said in a statement that his firm "is delighted to unite with Janney... . We share the same core values, visions and strengths."

Wolitarsky said in a statement that "the combined resources and dedication of both organizations will serve clients with ever-increasing value."

Wolitarsky explained the acquisition to Janney employees in a video yesterday over their desktop computers.

Wolitarsky and Kampmeinert, meanwhile, began a three-state tour that will take them to all 21 Parker offices by next Wednesday to explain in person how the new operation will work.

At a Glance

Janney Montgomery Scott

Founded: 1832, Philadelphia

Headquarters: Center City

Number of offices: 80

Number of advisers: 900

Area served: Massachusetts to Florida.

Scope:Stockbroker, fixed-income products, equity research, investment banking, retirement planning, mutual funds, investment consulting, insurance, and deferred-compensation programs.


Founded: 1902, Pittsburgh

Headquarters: Pittsburgh

Number of offices:21

Number of advisers: 130

Area served: Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Scope: Financial and estate planning, portfolio management, investment advisory, equity research, investment banking, equity and fixed-income securities, mutual funds, insurance, and annuities.


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Maybe good for Philly, bad for the burgh?

Posted on Wed, Feb. 23, 2005

Janney agrees to buy Pittsburgh firm


From what the article states the new firm will keep both research offices (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia) and move the Private Wealth Management ($1 billion)and Public Finance divisions of the combined firm to Pittsburgh. When taken together with the fact that the Parker Hunter CEO will become the new company's chairman with offices in Pittsburgh, it looks like a great thing for both cities.

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Toll Brother comes to downtown philly! This should be interesting because they are one of the first large national residential developers to come downtown. They've always steered clear of downtown due to the union problems ($$$$). They bought the rights to the naval site at 24th and bainbridge years ago but never felt they could profitably break ground. Until now. If this goes well we might start to see more development like this in the future. I drive past the site a lot and they are pretty far along on the first phase.

Naval Square

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1441 chestnut street, a 50 story tower on chestnut street. I think this would be the tallest residential tower in center city. It's been approved but is seeing resistance from the owner of the lot directly next to it. That owner wants to build a 57 story residential tower in conjuction with the the Ritz carlton hotel. Critics have called for the owners to build one base for the two towers. This would eliminate the need for two parking enterances and such. It will be interesting to see the outcome.


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Nice stats SW on those convention centers . . . I vaule comparisons like that (it is tough to get accurate up-to-date capacity of convention centers etc.) Pittsburgh's dynamic Lawrence Center is about half of what Philadelphia's expanded center will be, looks like you guys are gonna be the SUV of CCs . . . only problem is most of these buildings make a gas-guzzling SUV look like a sierra club member. I would hope Philadelphia could take Pittsburgh's lead in Enviro-friendly structures (Pittsburgh has the world's largest three LEED designed "green" buildings, the Lawrence Convention Center is the world's largest). It is widely underreported but a large structure such as planned for Philly's expansion could do the damage of hundreds of SUVs in just an hour.

The way Pittsburgh wrote the book on "green friendly" convention centers:


Rendell should push for that with Philadelphia, it'd be great to have one on each side of the state and great press being enviro friendly. Philly would take the title of the world's largest though . . . for now ;)

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Here are some pics of the possible full build out of the philadelphia naval ship yard. Recently it has undergone some major renovations and is quickly becoming a success.

These pics are from the new master plan completed last year.




Navy yard masterplan

Not too bad for a city that can barely afford a happy meal....eh?

Friday. January 21, 2005

Natalie Kostelni, Staff Writer, Philadelphia Business Journal

Navy Yard's appeal growing

Little by little, firms consider the budding business center

The Philadelphia Navy Yard, once a bastion of the country's military shipbuilding industry, has become a real option for companies seeking office space in the city but not in the Central Business District.

Vitetta, a Philadelphia architectural firm, led the way in August 1999 -- months before the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. took title of the 1,200-acre site in 2000 from the federal government.

Incrementally, other private companies have begun to trickle in and consider the Navy Yard as an office destination.

The Star Group, a growing Cherry Hill advertising agency, is considering a move out of its Camden County headquarters, and "the Navy Yard is just one option we're exploring," said Cathy Schwartz, director of corporate communications at Star.

John Binswanger, head of Binswanger/CBB, a commercial real estate brokerage, has two companies taking a hard look at it. "It's another competitive amount of space on the market," Binswanger said. "I certainly think it's a viable alternative."

Tom Bond, a broker with NAI Geis Realty Group Inc., also touts the Navy Yard to clients.

"I always consider the Navy Yard," Bond said. "It's beautiful. The infrastructure is there, the stadium complex is nearby, it's easy to get to ... it's been a long time coming for the city."

As recently as a year ago, most Center City office brokers would have shunned the Navy Yard as uncharted territory. To date, more than 60 companies and 6,000 people work at the South Philadelphia site. However, it's been a handful of companies that have committed to the Navy Yard in the last year that have set a tone for it as a business location.

Under a plan set forth by the city in September, $2 billion in private investment and as many as 30,000 jobs could be realized over the next two to three decades through the Navy Yard's transformation to a "modern urban center" of industrial, office, engineering, research and military enterprises, and places to live and dine.

A state- and city-designated Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone has been a key lure to many companies that have relocated in the Navy Yard. The zone gives businesses a break on state and local taxes, except for the city wage tax, until 2018.

When Vitetta relocated from 642 N. Broad St. to the Navy Yard, it spent $8 million buying and renovating a 55,000-square-foot building for its 140 employees. The company looked at 30 buildings in Center City before making the move. While the opportunity zone was an enticement, so was the parking.

"We paid $100 a space per month for everybody," said Alan Hoffman, Vitetta's president. "Every employee who went down [to the Navy Yard] got a $1,200 raise."

The architectural firm was a pioneer when it ventured to the Navy Yard in the time when the concept of the Navy Yard as a business center was in its infancy. Infrastructure, such as the power grid and other utilities the Navy oversaw, needed upgrades. The land was isolated, with no connections to public transportation. Now there's a shuttle that runs throughout the Navy Yard to the Pattison Avenue subway stop. No restaurants, dry cleaners or banks were available. A couple of restaurants have since opened up and PIDC plans other amenities to meet a growing demand.

To compensate for the lack of services and to retain and attract employees, Vitetta installed a gym. Breakfast and lunch are also served on-site, Hoffman said.

"I think the Navy Yard is over its growing pains," he said. "This is starting to be a hot place."

AppTec Laboratory Services last spring decided to move into a 75,000-square-foot building constructed by Liberty Property Trust of Malvern. The pharmaceutical company, which is based in St. Paul, Minn., had local operations in Camden. It hopes to employ 200 people by the end of the year. The company wanted to be close to the Philadelphia International Airport, just minutes down I-95.

As part of an overall master plan at the former base, Liberty Property is constructing a 77,000-square-foot building that will be completed by September. The company could build up to 1.4 million square feet there. The first building is garnering a lot of interest, and several leases will be signed by the time it is finished, said John Gattuso, senior vice president with Liberty.

Barthco International Inc., a logistics company, was figuring out a way in April 2003 to consolidate its three sites and find a place to expand. The company employs 175 people. It anticipates growing to 250 workers in a couple of years. Barthco was close to wrapping up a deal in Chester, Delaware County, where it would have been in an opportunity zone, before it decided on the Navy Yard.

"The K-Zone was a big inducement," said Dennis J. Colgan Jr., chief executive of Barthco, about the opportunity zone. The company saves about 10 percent a year by being in the KOIZ.

The company bought a 50,000-square-foot building at the Navy Yard for its new headquarters. It spent $10 million in acquisition and renovation costs. It moved in in November, and has options to expand into two adjacent sites.

"We didn't lose one person in the move," Colgan said. The company, like Vitetta, provides food on-site for employees.

Barthco's renovated headquarters has become the latest showcase of what could be at the Navy Yard. Colgan gave some executives from Urban Outfitters Inc., the Philadelphia-based owner of Anthropologie and flagship Urban Outfitters stores, a tour of his headquarters this month. They were impressed, he said.

"Everyone feels that it is something for real and that it's going to happen," Colgan said about the Navy Yard. "You have an instinct in business, and this is just an instinct."

While Barthco's move to the Navy Yard was notable, Urban Outfitters' decision in December to relocate from Rittenhouse Square to the South Philadelphia site, was a statement. The company will grow at the Navy Yard in several phases, in which eight buildings totaling 287,000 square feet will be renovated. The company will begin moving its 500 employees this summer. It anticipates doubling that number over the next five years.

What stings some real estate brokers and other observers is that Urban Outfitters was never considering leaving the city to begin with, and, with its move to the Navy Yard, has essentially turned from a tax-paying entity into one that will pay no state or local taxes. It's a move city officials heralded as a "great win" for the city.

"It's a wonderful move not only for them but for all of us because of the fact that it's a very fast-growing company and a creative company with a very young staff," said Commerce Director Stephanie Naidoff.

While Naidoff acknowledged Urban Outfitters won't be paying most state and local taxes, it will be paying the wage tax. "We collect the wage tax," she said. "It's a wonderful thing if they are growing at" the rate the company anticipates.

It is also a price to pay to firmly establish the Navy Yard as an office market, she said. "I think that kind of very large investment is setting the platform for attracting other similar companies," Naidoff said.

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