Archive: December, 2011
Delaware-based suburban brewpup chain Iron Hill plans its ninth location and its first inside Philadelphia city limits at 8400 Germantown Ave., former Express store site, in Chestnut Hill, next Wednesday Jan. 4. Owners Kevin Finn, Kevin Davies and Mark Edelson plan to open the restaurant at 4 pm in time for the dinner rush. It's the chain's ninth location, with five others in PA, two in DE, one in NJ.
Iron Hill takes its name from the landmark Appalachian outcrop (complete with state park and Revolutionary War-era mine) that greets northbound drivers on I-95 as the blow through the state line tollbooths at the Maryland border, not far from Iron Hill's original home in University of Delaware student-ridden Newark, Del.
Vernon and Shirley Hill say they're applying their Commerce Bank shake-up to the staid British banking market. The result is Metro Bank Plc, which is thawing a frozen industry dominated by NatWest and a handful of other big companies that had grown used to tight government oversight and making people stand in long lines.
With Shirley at his side teaching English contractors faster American ways, Vernon works his magic: He turns mid-career executives numbed by years of bureaucracy into enthusiastic hard-driving promoters. He persuades cold-eyed real estate speculators to commit millions to his vision. He even makes the sun shine on a rainy day.
But how can he turn a profit in the worst banking environment in memory? Read more in my quick-visit-to-London story from Sunday's Inquirer here.
1818 Market Street, owned by a group of investors led by Triple-Net Properties of Santa Ana, Calif., through agent Perna-Frederick, has landed Five Below, the dollar-store chain that targets suburban middle-school students in the eastern U.S. Five Below will join Merrill Lynch and other corporate tenants at 1818.
Five Below is taking 35,000 square feet, with option to increase to 60,000 as the 200-store chain grows. The chain is leaving its space at Isard-Greenberg's 1616 Walnut St. James Mullarkey of Newmark Knight represented Five Below. Five Below, started by Zany Brainy veterans Tom Vellios and David Schlessinger, was backed by investor Ira Lubert's Philly-based, Pa. state pension-backed LLR Partners, and later by Boston-based Advent International.
Five Below, started by Zany Brainy veterans Tom Vellios and David Schlessinger, was backed by investor Ira Lubert's Philly-based, Pa. state pension-backed LLR Partners, and later by Boston-based Advent International.
Suburban neighbors of Teva Pharmaceuticals' planned 120-foot-tall automated warehouse and truck depot at the onetime Budd Co. site on Red Lion Road in Northeast Philadelphia didn't immediately join the city's celebration over attracting a few hundred construction, trucking and logistics jobs to the site, most recently a golf course.
The Teva property adjoins Lower Moreland Township, where local taxes are high, redevelopment land parcels lie low along the flood plains, and local intersections along Red Lion Rd. from Pine to Welsh are already approaching jam levels during rush hours. Elected LM supervisors led by chairman Jill Blumhardt had been pressing Teva to talk; she and township manager Rick Miller finally met with Teva managers Bill Murray and Bobby Clarke this week. Here's how it went, says Miller: "They have indicated that truck traffic, the majority will be going out toward Route 1 and the Philadelphia airports or points east. As far as commuter traffic, after the first year they are expecting 250 employees over three shifts. So there will be some impact on our roads. We made them aware our intersections are considerd poor from a traffic engineering standpoint. We had not been included in any of their traffic studies."
"They have indicated that truck traffic, the majority will be going out toward Route 1 and the Philadelphia airports or points east. As far as commuter traffic, after the first year they are expecting 250 employees over three shifts. So there will be some impact on our roads. We made them aware our intersections are considerd poor from a traffic engineering standpoint. We had not been included in any of their traffic studies."
"Why do some from the land of the formerly disgraced manage to launder their reputations"? asks Geraldine Fabrikant in this Reuters piece on Steve Rattner.
The career of Rattner, the onetime New York Times reporter turned Lazard Freres investment banker, investment confidant to Brian Roberts of Comcast and other telecom moguls, Democratic Party master fundraiser, and Obama's GM-Chrysler takeover czar, threatened to unravel at its peak last year when he and his firm, Quadrangle Partners, were accused of helping corrupt New York State pension officials to win their business.
Writes Fabricant: "When Rattner was at Quadrangle, the firm paid an advisor to help win pension fund business. Both the advisor, Hank Morris and the ex-(NY State) controller Alan Hevesi, went to jail. Court filings also allege that Rattner had arranged for the distribution of a film made by the brother of the fund’s chief investment officer."
PBF Holding Company LLC and Delaware City Refining Company LLC, refinery operator Tom O'Malley's companies that last fall reopened the shuttered Delaware City, Del. oil refinery with help from millions in state aid, said today their board "conditionally approved the construction of a $1 billion project consisting of a mild hydrocracker and hydrogen plant" to reduce sulfur from 65,000 barrels a day of petroleum processed by the companys's refineries in Delaware City and in Paulsboro, NJ, "from 2,000 parts per million of sulfur to less than 15 parts per million of sulfur."
The companies, under pressure to reduce pollution at the notoriously dirty plant, say the new cracker will help process high-sulfur heavy crude into relatively "clean transportation fuels."
It's not a done deal: PBF needs favorable state and federal environmental permits that don't impose huge new costs, or the project won't work, the company said in a statement released through Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.
Gov. Corbett's budget office has sent me a list of Philadelphia-area projects "that will likely receive funding from the bonds authorized" by Pa. State Senate Bill 1054, and a second list of projects that "will likely" win state approval "within the next two months," says budget spokeswoman Susan Hooper.
As I noted yesterday, the newly passed law authorizes $1.7 billion in new state spending and borrowing, largely for state facilities, also including $270 million for Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) money, a matching-grant reimbursement fund for pre-approved development projects. Philadelphia-area projects, already approved, that will "likely receive funding" under SB 1054 include:
Philadelphia-area projects, already approved, that will "likely receive funding" under SB 1054 include:
What's with all the insuance company mergers and acqusitions? Harleysville Mutual, Penn Millers, Delphi/Reliance Standard - just three recent examples of Pennsylvania companies that have announced merger plans since summer.
My colleague Harold Brubaker will be writing more for the print Inquirer. Meanwhile analyst Paul Newsome at Sandler O'Neill + Partners tells one reason insurers are getting more attractive: Rates are going up.
He quotes Evan Greenberg, son of ex-AIG boss Hank Greenberg and boss of profitable insurer Ace Ltd. (which is based in Switzerland, headquartered in New York, and run largely from Philadelphia, where it includes the former Insurance Co. of North America), in a brief Greenspan-ian discourse: