3.06.2008

Planning and Building

It's been an even busier week than usual for me, between getting the
kids set up at a new day care, taking on the responsibility of
dropping them off and picking them up (I used to do just the
drop-off), and juggling the usual assortment of projects at work;
complicated by a few extra work things that hit my desk this week, as
well as a dental procedure and an adoption hearing for my son. And
yet, when I heard that both Andy Altman and Jerry Sweeney were going
to be at this month's gathering of the Design Advocacy Group, I knew I
had to be there.

If you don't know, Andy Altman is the new Commerce Director, with
enhanced authority now that more roles have been reorganized to be
under his purview. In fact, this is mainly what he talked about,
especially the integration of planning and development, heretofore all
too often siloed functions that ought to be more coordinated but
usually aren't. So it was good to hear his enthusiasm and his
commitment to marrying the two functions.

Jerry Sweeney is President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, which
used to do mostly suburban office space but has made a big splash with
the development of the Cira Centre and which is now very bullish on
University City. And who wouldn't be: when you combine the nation's
second busiest train station (behind only Penn Station in New York
City) with a major road and transit hub, and big league institutions
like Penn/HUP/CHOP and Drexel, you have the makings of a successful
development. (By the way, speaking of transit, it was good to hear
that 80 percent of the people that work in the Cira Centre take
transit to work, and that most of the parking built for the building
is unused.)

It's an exciting time for the city from a real estate development
standpoint, housing crisis notwithstanding. And I was glad I took the
time this morning to get the take of two people who are very
influential in turning that potential into reality.

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