Welcome to the working week, Philly. Here’s what we’re reading.
Jacob Adelman reports that in high-end commercial real estate transactions it’s all too common to see deals structured to avoid paying the full 4 percent real estate transfer tax. It’s legal, but it seems like Philly is leaving millions on the table. In some instances, for example, instead of a simple property transaction the property-owning subsidiary company can change hands. In such cases it’s common to see the tax paid only on the assessed value of the commercial property. The trouble is Philly’s commercial properties are under-assessed, though these will be reassessed starting in mid-2017. The Inquirer looked at the three transactions this year and five last year valued at more than $100 million, like the old 30th Street Post Office and The Bourse, finding just one instance where the real estate transfer tax was paid on the full sales price.
An Inquirer editorial Sunday threw SEPTA under the proverbial bus for its poor handling of this summer’s regional rail mess, after Silverliner Vs were sidelined due to emergency repairs. “SEPTA's assurances that safety and performance are top priorities are tough to swallow. Requiring stranded riders on the Paoli/Thorndale line this month to scramble through a ditch and climb a highway divider to reach a road two miles from the next station hardly seems safe or customer friendly.” Poor communication, erratic on-time performance, and high ridership have combined with an emergency to create crises of faith and operations.
Amtrak is getting a new CEO: Charles “Wick” Mooreman, a former executive at the freight rail company Norfolk Southern. The hope is that Mooreman can improve performance and smooth relations on the nation’s shared rails between freight and passenger interests. Current Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman is retiring.
Fishtowners are being asked to weigh in on the redesign for Fishtown Rec. The Star has a rundown of four options presented at a public meeting last week. Vote for your favorite option via an online survey.
In a PhillyMag Q&A Councilwoman Helen Gym had this to say to parents leaving Philly because of the schools: “If you have the privilege to walk away, then I would hope that you would use the privilege to help fix it.” That and she wanted to be Wonder Woman when she grew up.