Philadelphia’s “second” skyline will be here before we know it


Today, when people talk about all of Philadelphia’s positive energy and potential, the discussion typically leans toward Center City. Some may disagree with me, but hey … that’s what opinions are for.

Center City has the best restaurants, the nicest/newest condos, and the densest population of people in the entire city. More or less, Center City is Philadelphia’s heartbeat. Anyone and everyone, young and old, natives and transplants, urban-born and suburban-born, most of them look at Center City first when considering a serious move to our city (believe me, it’s what I do for a living).

And you have to admit, Center City is pretty freakin’ awesome these days.

But … there is another super-positive discussion brewing among those who have a present/future stake in Philadelphia (i.e. developers, businesses, hospitals, universities, etc), that not too many have taken notice to yet. Yup, I’m talking about University City.

I know, I know … I know.

I’ve written many blog posts in the past about UC on the old (which are now available on the all new, woo hoo!), but there is something different in the air. Something bigger than anything I have seen/heard before about University City.

It’s almost as if UC has become a brand-new city altogether … right? There are brand-new restaurants (both local and franchise options abound), brand-new buildings (both public and private), and brand-new people (seriously, from like every corner of the world). But yet, I would still say that most conversations about Philadelphia these days, regarding the “new” Philadelphia (as some folks like to call it), still sway toward Center City.

Just last month, I caught a first-hand/up-to-date glimpse of everything that is going on right now in University City.

Andrew Janos, Ryan Garrity, and I recently took a hard hat tour of the new FMC Tower in University City … and man, what a great project that is shaping up to be. Ground floor commercial spaces, middle floor office spaces, and upper floor residential spaces (home to the future AKA University City). Not to mention all of the thought that went into the architecture + planning: sleek building design, stunning lobby, Cira Green, and an unbelievably-convenient location to Philadelphia’s business district and 30th Street Station (just walk right over).

When we got to one of FMC Tower’s top floors (40+ stories, in the open air), I got a sweeping view of both Center City and University City (as well as Fairmount, South Philly, etc). All sides of the floor we exited on to were only blocked off by guard rails, no glass had been put up yet; and since I don’t mind heights, I thought it was amazing. Of course, Center City is absolutely stunning these days (i.e. Comcast ITC, One Riverside, etc); dense, green, and buzzing with development. But, I will say that University City is definitely giving Center City a run for its money. New buildings, new parks, new neighborhoods, you name it.

That’s where we are currently, in September 2016.

Now … look ahead 35 years (which I know is not easy to do), and here’s what University City could look like (on top of what it already looks like):

  • 88-acres of new neighborhood: Built over rail yards (next to 30th Street Station), the Powelton Yard vision may be one of the most ambitious urban projects in the US.
  • Further development of the surrounding neighborhoods: Think live-work-play, residential-office-entertainment.
  • Connecting Amtrak & Septa: Making the connection better, safer, and more convenient.
  • New bus terminal: With a new pedestrian bridge, connecting Arch St to 30th Street Station.
  • More local parks and green spaces: Need I say more?

That’s right, we’re talkin’ serious. Feel free to click on any/all of my links above for more details.

Philadelphia is becoming a millennial powerhouse

Our wonderful city at night. Courtesy of


Here are some interesting stats/stories to help paint the picture:

– “Philly’s Millennial Population Growing Fastest Among 10 Largest US Cities

– “Where Millennials Live in Philadelphia

– “Two Philadelphia-Area Companies Named Best Places to Work for Millennials

– “Philadelphia Ranks as the Best City for Millennials to Work & Live” (which coincidentally, is the inspiration for this blog post)

There is even more great/positive press out there for Philadelphia and the millennial contingent, but rather than post a few more links that all prove the same thing, I thought it would be beneficial to discuss the subject.

So let’s break this topic down

– The obvious reason … our affordable housing.

If you compare the average cost to buy a home in Philadelphia, versus the average cost to buy a home in Texas, The City of Brotherly Love & Sisterly Affection may not seem like a steal. But … If you compare the average cost to buy a home in Philadelphia, versus the average cost to buy a home in New York, Philadelphia is the deal of the century.

We also look good compared to DC and Boston, just sayin’.

Now, if the average buyer only focused on areas like Center City or University City, the good deals may not seem as prevalent. But a quick home search in South Philadelphia or Northwest Philadelphia really opens up the doors for most young buyers, and still provides all of the benefits (e.g. convenient location, public transportation, neighborhood restaurants/festivals, etc).

I know a lot of the naysayers out there will say that millennials would prefer to rent than buy, or that millennials fear the commitment associated with owning a home; there is some truth to that. But when the monthly “cost to own” is less than the “cost to rent” (and Philadelphia’s diversified renter pool typically allows the option to keep your home as an investment rental property, even in the event you have to leave the city and prefer not to sell), this is where Philadelphia’s home buying affordability starts to really shine through.

– Our city’s vibrant cultural, dining, and entertainment scenes.

If you are a traveler that likes to “see and do things” on your trips, Philadelphia is a cornucopia of culture.

There’s the history: Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, everything Benjamin Franklin, etc. There’s the food: Stephen Starr, Jose Garces, our Top Chef alum, cheesesteaks, roast pork, etc. There’s the art: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation, more public art than most national/international cities, etc. There are the sports: Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Union (oh, and Rocky). There’s the music: Electric Factory, Union Transfer, The Fillmore, Johnny Brenda’s, etc.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Most people in the US (as well as around the world) do not realize how big and awesome Philadelphia really is, along with all of the things it has to offer its visitors and residents.

If you’re looking for more, is a great website to peruse.

– Our world-class universities and hospitals.

Second only to Boston, Philadelphia has more to offer in the “Eds & Meds” category than any other city in the US; hands down.

UPenn and Drexel keep getting bigger and harder to get into. Temple has created its own neighborhood. Villanova just won the NCAA title. Need I say more.

Our hospitals are not only great for those looking to become doctors and/or medical specialists, but they offer great job opportunities once a degree is in hand. Oh, and let’s not forget that Philadelphians have access to some of the best healthcare institutions in the world, whether you are in the city proper or in the suburbs.

So, what does all of this have to do with millennials you say? Well, a lot.

Most millennials strive to go to college; Philadelphia has some of the best. Post-college, most millennials plan to work right away; Philadelphia has great co-op/intern programs, job opportunities, and a vibrant entrepreneurial community. When not working, millennials enjoy their meals out; Philadelphia has so many restaurants, it can be hard to make a decision sometimes. Finally, millennials are less into owning cars and more into public transit; tons of SEPTA trains, subways, and buses in/around Philadelphia.

Needless to say, millennials love Philadelphia.

Our city checks all of the appropriate boxes, and offers a convenient US location to boot. Staying relevant to younger generations around the world is an obvious bright spot in Philadelphia’s promising future.

Philadelphia is emerging as a tech city

Tech - Tetris Cira


What do you typically think of when you hear the phrase “Top Tech Cities?”

I don’t know about you, but I typically gravitate toward San Francisco/San Jose (aka Silicon Valley), New York, Boston, and Austin. Those are cities I hear about all of the time, especially in the start-up/tech world.

I also happen to be a big fan of Bloomberg TV, which makes those aforementioned city names even more repetitive.

Welp folks, we can now begin to discuss Philadelphia in that category as well. Ironically, this blog post is also kicking off Philly Tech Week 2016, so don’t forget to check out the upcoming highlights between now and 5/7.

The Huffington Post recently posted an article titled, “Top 10 Cities Techies Should Consider Moving to In 2016.” Guess who was #5 on their list (tied with NYC, mind you)? Yup, it was Philadelphia. That’s a big one for myself and my fellow Philadelphians, considering we are not typically associated with other top US cities for tech.

At least, not yet and not often.

I know, I know. Blogs are subjective, they are not fact; case in point. But, you can’t ignore that Philadelphia is now getting noticed in ways it never has before.

Part of the reason the term “tech” walked into our city’s corner and took a seat is because of local, successful companies like RJ Metrics, DuckDuckGo, Curalate, and Scholly (a company which also happens to work out of the same space as Copper Hill, at Pipeline).

Now, to compare our city to one of our Northeastern neighbors (let’s go with Boston, as we have similarities), a big reason why Boston gets so much credibility for their start-up/venture scene is due to its abundance of top-quality universities, millennial population growth, and vibrant city lifestyle. This is where Philadelphia is also starting to get noticed, as we too have great universities (ever heard of Penn, Drexel, Temple, and the rest of our higher education crew), a growing millennial population (the fastest growth rate among the 10 largest cities in the US), and the popularity of Center City/University City as amazing live/work/play environments (hello 2nd largest downtown).

So, is Philadelphia the best city to be in if you are in the tech industry? No. Is Philadelphia pushing its way into the overall discussion because of the reasons I just mentioned? Yes.

People are starting to notice Philadelphia’s forward-thinking momentum and valuable assets: an affordable quality of life, dynamic cultural/food scene, and convenient Northeastern US location (as stated in the article: the beach is an hour in one direction, the mountains are an hour in the other direction, etc).

These are reasons why our city is on the rise and gaining credibility on both a national and international scale.