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Philly Mag weighs in on the future of Washington Avenue

Last year, Flying Kite checked in on the huge changes coming to Washington Avenue, an industrial corridor in transition. Now a couple of big announcements later, Philly Mag takes a look at this key thoroughfare. 

Washington Avenue forms the spine of some of the hottest neighborhoods in Philadelphia: Point Breeze, Graduate Hospital, East Passyunk and Bella Vista. It’s also stood as the southernmost edge of greater Center City; a gritty and unforgiving moat of asphalt four lanes wide that makes it oh-so-clear you’re not in Society Hill any more.

Those facts of geography probably make Washington Avenue’s transformation inevitable. In fact, it’s already begun. Center City’s relentless growth has led legions of new Philadelphians to cross the Avenue, and they’re demanding it become, well, a more normal street. They want a Washington Avenue that is less quirky and less chaotic: fewer pastrami factories, more purveyors of artisanal charcuterie.

Developers are rushing to meet that demand. Several mega-projects are in the works on Washington Avenue, including a 32-story Bart Blatstein development at Broad Street that will feature a grocery store, shops, restaurants, 700 parking spaces and 1,600 apartments. Seeking to build on that momentum, city planners want to rezone the western half of the Avenue, much of which is now zoned for exclusively industrial uses.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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The Wells Fargo Center is no more (at least according to the Sixers)

The bank declined to become partners with the franchise, so the Sixers are now referring to their home as simply "The Center."

The Philadelphia 76ers have 86ed the corporate name to their home arena.

The Sixers have decided to stop referring to the Wells Fargo Center by name in all news releases and on the team website because the financial institution chose not to become a business partner with the basketball franchise.

This season, the 76ers started referring to the 20,000-seat arena simply as The Center.

Some fans thought that was just a marketing idea to develop a catchy nickname for the arena instead of referring to the corporate title.

But the Sixers started sending press releases stating events would be held "at the Sixers' home arena."

A June 9 release touting auditions for a Sixers dance team gives the full address for the arena but omits the name.

Chris Heck, chief revenue officer of the 76ers, said the team values its partners and tries to maximize its relationships.

"We also continue to enjoy our relationship with Comcast Spectacor as tenants at a world-class arena, but that particular bank is currently not a sponsor of the Philadelphia 76ers," Heck said.

Wells Fargo, which has a naming rights deal on the arena through 2024, declined comment.

Original source: The New York Times
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A 'Cambodia Town' in South Philly?

An influx of Cambodian immigrants changes the face of South Philly -- should the designation become official?

On sunny weekend afternoons, in the shadow of an ornate, golden Buddhist temple, Mifflin Square in South Philadelphia is dotted with charcoal grills, chile-lacquered chicken wings, and thin-sliced fatty beef heavily seasoned with lemongrass sputtering over the coals. Women pound chilies, garlic, and dried shrimp to a paste to season the snappy unripe papaya for the lime-drenched salads they sell to passersby.

This is what some people call Cambodia Town, where these authentic street foods sell for $1, and where there's an effort afoot to make the title official. Though there are other places throughout the city that are rich in Cambodian culture - similar vendors sell snacks in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, and there's a new temple under construction in Southwest Philadelphia - the area around Mifflin Square is the heart of this community. Business owners, city officials, and Cambodian Americans think it's time to raise the profile of their culture - especially its bold, bright, and balanced cuisine.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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PHS announces three pop-up beer gardens for summer 2015

This year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will install three -- three!! -- of their wildly popular beer gardens. The transformation of these vacant lots is fast becoming a Philly tradition. Check out the full scoop from Foobooz:

Last year's South Street beer garden will return to 1438 South Street. This season will feature "Bohemian flair" as designed by designer Karen Regan of Tallulah & Bird. This year, the South Street beer garden will include wooden trellis, container gardens, large palm and banana trees and Jack-in-the-pulpit relatives that will rise five-feet tall. The space will also offer public and private spaces, a first for a PHS pop-up garden. Look for beers from Barren Hill Brewery to be offered throughout the summer. Barren Hill will also work with Wyndridge Farm, creator of PHS Cider on an exclusive beer for the garden.

The South Philadelphia location has landed at 9th and Wharton, opposite Cheesesteak Vegas. The look here will be an urban garden with a "hipster vibe." Look for recycled bike parts and reclaimed wood. A splash of color provided by a wave of Gomphrena Fireworks will spice up the beer garden. The spot will offer bean-baggy furnishings and a return of the popular stepped stadium seating that was so popular on Broad Street in 2013. Food and drink will be provided by Royal Tavern and Cantina Los Caballitos and will also borrow from the Italian flavors of the neighborhood.
The third location will be in the courtyard of Three Logan Square at 18th and Cherry Streets. Sure to be a gathering place for

Comcast employees and other Center City office workers. This space is being designed by Sargenti Architecture, a local firm. The vibe here should be beachy with sand around the fountain and palm trees, honey locusts, whispygrasses and lush tropicals dotting the area. A wood deck, white furnishings and cabanas for lounging will make this an attractive spot during the day and after work. Food and drink will be provided by City Tap House across the street.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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The Pope versus the Philadelphia Eagles

The Pope and the Eagles won't be sharing the city in September.

According to Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on July 8, 2014 requesting that the Eagles be out of town for the pontiff's visit -- presumably hoping that football would not interfere with the millions expected to gather in the city that weekend for a mass outside the Philadelphia Art Museum.

The NFL released its full 2015-16 season schedule on Tuesday, and the Eagles will not be in Philadelphia during the pope's visit. NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz responded to the archbishop in October, according to King, saying the football team would be in New Jersey playing against the New York Jets on September 27.

"The pope did influence the NFL schedule," Katz told King on Tuesday. "My name may be Katz, but I wasn’t taking any chances.”

Original source: Sports Illustrated via Huffington Post
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The Sixers woes are a story unto themselves; a reporter hits the road with the team

The Sixers' terribleness is almost a thing of beauty. A New York Times reporter hit the road with the floundering squad.

There has never been a professional sports team quite like the 2014-15 Philadelphia 76ers, a roster of basketball castoffs and drifters that could be the least capable assemblage of players ever to suit up for an N.B.A. game. The franchise — widely believed by those who follow pro basketball to be deliberately in “tank mode,” in order to lose games and get a top pick in this summer’s N.B.A. draft — has offended sensibilities, provoked curiosity, inspired bizarre mathematical theorems...

A Philadelphian, by birth and temperament, I followed the Sixers off and on for months this season, trying to understand how the team’s quixotic plan was progressing. Oddly, the basketball team the Sixers put on the court was not uninteresting. On their better nights, they were not unwatchable. At all times, they were illuminating. I felt as if I were looking in on a strange social-science experiment: Throw together a group of marginal, overmatched professional athletes and give them a shot at their lifelong dream. The results were both inspiring and heartbreaking. 

Original source: The New York Times
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Could the Broad Street Line extension to the Navy Yard finally happen?

As PlanPhilly reports, PIDC is pushing forward with the idea of extending the Broad Street Line into the Navy Yard.

The Navy Yard is booming right now, adding about 1,000 jobs per year. New buildings are fully leased before construction on them can even begin. Plans for adding 1,500 residential units over the next few years are in the works. And the streets connecting the Navy Yard to the rest of the city are reaching capacity. According to Agate: “You have to find ways other than by strictly automobile to bring 1,000 more employees per year into the Navy Yard.”

“Frankly,” said Agate, “it’s a race against time to make sure that the infrastructure … is keeping pace with the growth the Navy Yard wants to experience.”

Right now, the BSL ends at AT&T Station near the sport stadiums. PIDC hopes to extend the line another 1.5 miles and to add one or two stations in the Navy Yard.  

Original source: PlanPhilly
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Two Philly spots make GQ's top 25 restaurants list

Two local restaurants have earned a place of honor of GQ's list of the country's 25 best restaurants.

Laurel at #8: The room might well be a shotgun apartment: front door leading to a tiny area (seating twenty) leading straight back to an undersized kitchen. There's not much decor, save for a few black iron sconces and hanging lamps. The chairs are exceedingly comfy, the service attentive, the stemware pleasing—all enhancements to a BYOB dining experience with a style of cooking I loved back when it was called “modern French.” Yet the most stunning dish was pure Americana, catfish in a coconut-clam broth. Hard to imagine a kitchen in Philly accomplishing what the South has been trying to do for centuries: make catfish elegant. Chef Nicholas Elmi does it gracefully. His meat dishes are intensely flavorful, particularly duck magret and foie gras. Stylishness has come to East Passyunk Avenue, once ground zero for cheesesteaks, now fast emerging as Philly's premier dining locale.

Lo Spiedo at #24: Come here for a little history and a lot of meat. Lo Spiedo is located just inside the old navy yard, where the battleship New Jersey was built. Almost as sturdy is the reginette bolognese. “Too much meat,” I griped. “Marc Vetri knows what he's doing,” argued a friend. He always does. Here you'll find glorified Americanized Italian food, including a gutsy celery-root milanese sandwich. If vegetarians gave out medals, it deserves the Navy Cross.
Original source: GQ
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Saying goodbye (and thank you) to Jimmy Rollins

A writer for the Huffington Post reflects on the Phillies great's impressive legacy.

Rollins ends his decade-and-a-half tenure in Philadelphia this week. His final curtain call comes as the franchise's all-time leader in hits, at-bats, doubles, and stolen bases. He also ranks second in games, singles, triples, runs, total bases and extra-base hits. With all due respect to Phillie-for-Life Larry Bowa, the man affectionately known as J-Roll stands as the clear choice for Greatest Shortstop in Phillies History...

Where Iverson and Dawkin came up short, Rollins delivered. For the first time in a quarter of a century, the sports fanatics of Philadelphia could raise their heads high and call themselves World F&%$ing Champions... just like Jimmy had promised.
The Phillies would remain the team to beat in the NL East for three more seasons, including a franchise record 102-wins in 2011, however it was those delivered-upon promises that will forever define J-Roll's time in South Philly.

Jimmy preached expecting the best at a time when Philadelphians were instinctively expecting the worst. More than any other player, Rollins changed the culture, not just in the clubhouse, but in the city itself.

Original source: Huffington Post
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Grantland's Wesley Morris pens a year-end ode to Mo'ne Davis

Pulitzer Prize winner Wesley Morris included his thoughts on Philly's own Taney Dragon Mo'ne Davis in his end-of-year reflections.

In mid-August, as racial protests roiled suburban St. Louis, sectarian violence inflamed the Middle East, and Vladimir Putin toyed with the mouse also known as Ukraine, a force of serenity seemed to emanate from South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. A girl stood on a hill of dirt and, with great style and cool poise, threw baseballs to boys at bat. Except this wasn’t just some girl. This was a goddess of bewitching precision, the apotheosis of seizing a moment before a moment seizes you. In the two star-making shutouts pitched by Mo’ne Davis at the Little League World Series, 14 batters were sent trudging back to the dugout. I felt for them. No one could touch her fastball. No one could handle her changeup. But most important: Nothing could stop her hair.

I know. That hair.

...It’s possible that the hair’s motion — part whip, part whirlpool; some combination of violence, beauty, and grace — seduced constituencies predisposed to understand the story of that hair. It invoked Valkyries, graphic novels, and photo shoots. Her hair effortlessly did whatcertain pop stars need industrial-strength wind-generating fans to do. By itself, the hair would give you pause. As worn by Davis, it conferred upon her unself-conscious strength, majesty, otherworldliness. That’s how she seemed to throw: with abandon.

Original source: Grantland
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A velodrome for South Philly?

An exciting new cycling-centric project has been proposed for South Philly. Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron weighs in.

A group of Philadelphia bicycle-racing enthusiasts is speeding ahead with plans for an ambitious, Olympic-class arena that is intended to position the city as the leader of the nation's growing track-cycling culture, while also providing space for the public to learn and practice the sport.

But to realize the $100 million velodrome, whose swooping form would echo the banked curves of a bicycle track, the city would have to give the organizers a four-acre parcel in South Philadelphia's historic FDR Park, the city's only green space designed by the famous firm founded by Frederick Law Olmsted.

Named Project 250, the privately planned arena has excited the imaginations of cyclists, who believe a state-of-the-art, 250-meter bike track would become a top U.S. venue for international races. The arena, which would occupy a Broad Street site across from the Sports Complex, has already won strong backing from Mayor Nutter and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, as well as from the Friends of FDR Park and neighborhood groups.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philadelphia's casino soap opera takes another twist

Philadelphia's latest gambling license was awarded to a South Philadelphia project. It's the latest in a wave of casino projects coming to the East Coast.

A $425 million project with a casino and a boutique hotel rising in the stadium district of Philadelphia is the latest entrant into the tumultuous world of East Coast gambling.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board awarded a license on Tuesday to a joint venture of Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment to build the Philadelphia area’s fourth gambling hall and the 13th casino in the state.

The decision came as New York is edging closer to approving up to four Las Vegas-style casinos at locations outside of New York City. Massachusetts recently approved two billion-dollar casinos, one at either end of the state. And in Connecticut, some lawmakers are talking about expanding the state’s casino industry to protect its market share.

The frenzy of casino building is taking place in what is widely regarded as the most competitive market in the country despite flat or falling gambling revenues in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Original source: The New York Times
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South Philly's Gennaro's Tomato Pie named best pizzeria in the state

Thrillist's list of the top pizzeria in every state singled out South Philly's Gennaro's Tomato Pie -- aka heaven on earth.

Philadelphia’s got some legit classic Italian cred (as well as some innovative spots like Pizzeria Beddia and Pizza Brain), so this was a tough call, but we’ve gotta hand it to South Philly's relative newcomer Gennaro’s. It’s got a pedigree that can be traced from America’s first pizza joint (Lombardi’s, also one of Little Italy’s best), and serves up simple, awesome pies with whole-milk mozzarella and crushed tomatoes.

In other Gennaro's news, the primo pizzeria is moving to a larger location in Passyunk Square

Original source: Thrillist
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Grantland writer Chris Ryan takes a delightful look back at a woeful Sixers' season

It was a rough season for Sixers fans, but Philly native Chris Ryan sees signs of hope. (Plus, that GIF of Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue will make any local's day.)

With all due respect to the obvious and well-documentedcharms of Malik Rose and Marc Zumoff, the Sixers, especially post–trade deadline, have been a tough watch on TV. Life is too short and Kevin Durant is too good to spend all your time watching Henry Sims learn to crawl. This is specific to the NBA, I think. You can drift away from your team now. Baseball is a months-long, religious experience (or so I’m told), and football is a one-day-a-week committment, where only the truly putrid teams are out of contention early on. The NBA is different. With League Pass, national games, and players that you want to be able to tell your kids about, it’s tough to stick with a bad team. And the Sixers are bad.

But live? Live, the Sixers are punk-rock bad. The Sixers are gloriously, three-chords-and-a-beat bad.

Live, you feel it. You feel how fast they are trying to play, you can see that Brett Brown has removed the restrictor plate on this team, you can see a bunch of guys desperately playing for their lives, or at least their livelihoods. If you just watch the game, and don’t look at the scoreboard, and don’t think about how Rajon Rondo must wonder what he did to deserve this … well, it’s kind of awesome.

Original source: Grantland
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Citizens Bank named one of the best ballparks for craft beer

The Phillies' home stadium came in No. 6 in a list of the country's best ballparks for craft beer. (In fact, a local microbrew will run you the same cost as a Miller Lite.)

It comes as no surprise that two Pennsylvania cities (the only two with major league teams) made it into the top five. The state is well represented by a number of great breweries and both stadiums felt it only right to serve that amazing beer. At Citizens Bank, Phillies fans drink beer from Tröegs Brewing, Victory Brewing, Flying Fish (in nearby New Jersey), Sly Fox, Yards Brewery, Prism Brewing, and Philadelphia Brewing. The list continues with several out-of-state breweries, like Goose Island, Long Trail, Otter Creek, Allagash, Anchor, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Ommegang, Samuel Adams, 21st Amendment, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada.

Original source: The Daily Meal
Read the complete list here.
79 South Philadelphia Articles | Page: | Show All
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