Monday, December 29, 2014

Archive: October, 2011

POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 3:03 PM

Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com, is looking at the 8th and Market St. building that once housed the former Strawbridge & Clothier’s flagship retail store, and at Dow Chemical Co.'s former Rohm and Haas building at 6th and Market on Independence Mall, as possible future newsroom and office sites for hundreds of workers and managers.

That follows the company's sale of the white-towered Inquirer-Daily News building at 400 North Broad Street, its home since the 1920s, to Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments, best known for converting former Philadelphia factories and office buildings to yuppie apartments, stores and restaurants.

A move to 8th and Market is "one of the options we’re looking at,” but discussions at this stage are “not definitive,” Philadelphia Media general counsel Michael Kuritzkes told me. Dow has turned the modern Rohm and Haas headquarters into the headquarters of one of its business groups, but it doesn't need all the space, and it's seeking tenants for the upper floors.

POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 3:00 PM

Philadelphia-based celebrity chef Jose' Garces Garces Trading Co. and Eclat Chocolate boss Christopher Curtin are bringing out a line of $8 chocolate bars. Garces is lending his brand name and his store, and Eclat is using its West Chester facility to turn out the high-end candy.

POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 2:38 PM

MF Global, the former Man (as in Isle of Man, a tax haven) Financial, the investment firm run by ex-NJ Gov. and ex-Goldman Sachs boss Jon Corzine, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York City after losing hundreds of millions of dollars invested in risky European debt, reports Bloomberg here.

POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 12:13 PM

"The Halloween business is really competitive," says Steve Kopelman, operator of haunted house attractions in Ohio, Indiana, Arizona and Texas. LINK to Halloween activities around Philly.

Ticket sales rose in the mid-2000s with the popularity of "torture porn" movies like Hostel and Saw (which encouraged demand for bloody scenes, though Kopelman says "the pendelum will swing back"), and with retailers' increased interest in using Halloween to bridge sales between the back-to-school and Christmas seasons.

But it's not that hard to set up a haunted house, and demand isn't infinite. So "any edge you have, any interaction you have with your customer, it helps," says Kopelman, who also operates www.hauntedhouse.com .

POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 10:07 AM

Supervalu, the giant grocery operator that owns both the formerly dominant Acme supermarket chain in Philadelphia and discount Save-A-Lot markets, among others, has cut its new low-end store opening plans by half, boss Craig Hekert told investors last week.

The move follows decisions by Home Depot and others to slow new-store growth, given sluggish U.S. live retail sales.

"We feel it is appropriate to revise the pace of new store openings in the near term," Heckert told investors at Supervalu's quarterly conference call. "We now expect to add 80 to 90 locations to our store count this year compared to our original expectation of 160...

POSTED: Friday, October 28, 2011, 2:34 PM

Philadelphia home sales fell below last year's level in each of the first six months of 2011, but reversed and showed an increase from year-ago levels in July, August and September, city controller Alan Butkovitz reports here.

June sales were off by one-third, to around 1,000, but July, August and September sales were up at least 10% each vs last year, averaging over 800/month. Year to date, Philadelphia home sales are stlill slow, totalling 7,591 through Sept. 30, down from 8,723 a year earlier.

POSTED: Friday, October 28, 2011, 11:09 AM

Update: See also my column in the Sunday Oct. 30 2011 Philadelphia Inquirer

Stephen Girard, early Philadelphia's self-made millionaire import-export mogul, private central banker, coal-and-railroad pioneer, and vegan slaveholder, left most of his $10 million fortune to the city, so it could build Delaware Ave., hire cops and fund other public projects - especially the Girard College for orphans (Grades 1-12) on Girard Ave. west of Ridge.

The good news is that Girard's legacy, managed by pros hired by Philadelphia's Board of City Trusts, grew a little last year, to $515 million, from $486 million the year before..

POSTED: Friday, October 28, 2011, 10:02 AM

Brandywine Realty Trust, which last year boosted its Center City office holdings by buying the Bell Atlantic and twin Commerce Center towers, has picked up 3020 Market St. by foreclosing on the property's $18.8 million mortgage.

The building, home recently to Lincoln University's Philadelphia campus and about 40% vacant, is a short walk from Brandywine's Cira and ex-30th St Post Office developments and cements Brandywine's role as lead landlord in the city's highest-rent office district on the west bank of the Schuylkill. "Our game is to invest capital" and find more tenants, Sweeney told me. 

Brandywine shares rose back above $9 for the first time in a month as the Radnor-based property owner reported higher-than-expected profits (see earnings statement here).  Conference call transcript  here at FT's Seeking Alpha.

In reports to investor clients: Janney analyst Daniel P. Donlan calls Brandywine stock a bargain because it trades at a discount to other office owners. But John W. Guinee at Stifel Nicolaus worries that Brandywine's offices in Washington's Virginia suburbs are "burdened by defense contractor space contractions and federal government belt tightening," and that Brandywine's efforts to fill its average 14% vacancies "will stress the dividend for years."

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

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