Thursday, January 27, 2022

CCRA Newsletter

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This Week: January 27, 2022

Editor - Barbara Halpern

Lead Writer - Richard Vaughn

Design/Layout and Writer - Travis Oliver

Money See, Money Do

You’re likely familiar with the $15 million donation to Philly private and parochial schools jointly made by comedian Kevin Hart, rapper Meek Mill and Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin.

While all agree that the $15M is a sizable sum, not all agree that it’s the best of expenditures education-wise.  In the Inquirer, Kearny Friends President Stephanie King would have preferred it go to public schools, while columnist Jenice Armstrong doesn’t believe critics get to tell successful people how and where to spend their money.


Big-city education is full of complexity. These complexities (and more) will be explored in depth as part of the next segment of CCRA’s series “Sense in the City”to be held at noon on Feb. 9.

Details and registration can be found here.

Bankroll Project Approved Unanimously by the ZBA


The special exception (for the Bankroll Project proposed for the site of the Boyd Theater and the Gap on Chestnut Street) was approved unanimously by the ZBA. The project features a Steven Starr sports-themed restaurant.  In response to some concerns about potential negative impacts on near-neighbors and Center City West in general, CCRA appointed a “Stakeholders’ Group” to hear neighborhood concerns and negotiate an agreement to address them. A far-reaching Memorandum of Agreement  was reached and the CCRA Board considered it at its November meeting and approved it by a 28-1 vote.


At the ZBA hearing, the Board was anxious to hear from CCRA about the negotiated agreement.  President Rick Gross testified about the extensive community process undertaken by CCRA to evaluate the project.  He also testified about the agreement’s many terms intended to alleviate any adverse effects which might result from this large restaurant facility.  He also stressed that CCRA had taken steps to insure that the location would never be the site of gaming, including the recording of a deed restriction to that effect by the property owners.  Finally, he detailed the extensive enforcement provisions in the agreement should, despite well-founded expectations to the contrary, any problems with noise, congestion or patron conduct occur.  In addition to CCRA’s support, several experts testified that the fears of some in the community about the project were not likely to materialize.  The Philadelphia City Planning Commission also testified in support of the project.


There was  opposition to the project  from the board of the William Penn House, whose President and experts testified that, although the Memorandum of Agreement was thorough and well-crafted, they still feared negative consequences.  Based on the final  ZBA vote, it was not persuaded by these arguments. 


CCRA looks forward to the revitalization of the Boyd Theater after decades of disuse.

For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see the President’s Letter in the upcoming Center City Quarterly. To read the Memorandum of Agreement, click here.

CCRA News and Events

Sense in the City - An Urban Conversation

Join Hugh Taft Morales of the Philadelphia Ethical Society for the second Sense in the City discussion: EQUITY, PUBLIC SCHOOLS and DEMOCRACY. Wednesday, Feb 9, Noon to 1:30 PM. Register HERE.


Let’s brainstorm about the following challenges to our democracy:

How should we think of the public school system? Are flourishing schools for all fundamental for the future of democracy? How should we approach equity in funding, given that schools in wealthy areas often are better funded and have additional support through extra fundraising programs? What is a fair funding formula? What role do charter schools play in our public dialogue about education? How should schools be structured so that they prepare young people to be engaged citizens?


Maggie Mund


(Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion)

CCRA Public Zoning Committee Meeting


On Tuesday, January 25, CCRA held its monthly public zoning committee meeting. The meeting is available on our

YouTube Channel.


The next zoning committee is scheduled for Tuesday, February 22, at 7 pm. via Zoom.

Are you using the Merchant Partner 'Deals and Discounts' Program?

We would like to hear from our members! Please take this very brief survey and let us know your thoughts, so that we may improve on this popular membership benefit program. Thanks much!


CCRA’s Merchant Partner program is a true Win-Win: It provides smaller local businesses with complementary advertising and exposure while giving CCRA members generous deals and discounts. This week we spotlight Rittenhouse BYOB Branzino.

'Branzino' is Italian for... Delicious.

Located in the heart of Rittenhouse on 17th below Locust, CCRA Merchant Partner Branzino offers sumptuous modern Italian cuisine in an expansive Center City townhouse that features a lovely private garden in the outdoor patio out back.  The BYOB’s food is flavorful and exquisitely presented by the warm and accommodating staff.  And, as a CCRA Merchant Partner, Branzino offers 10% off for both indoor and outdoor garden dining and pickup for orders directly telephoned into the restaurant.  (Note: The discount does not apply to third-party delivery services.)

10% off and a BYOB?  What are you waiting for?

Clean, Safe and Green

Miles to go before we sleep….well?

The winter frost puts extra strain on the city’s aging water pipes. Read this to see how many “miles to go” the city has to replace old water pipes that could break- and result in a repeat flood like the disaster in Kensington. Robert Frost said it all…..

Affected by the PES Explosion?


You’ll likely recall the explosions and fires at the former PES site in South Philly in June of 2019.

The latest on that is that Hilco Development Partners has purchased the 1,300-acre site with plans to develop it into a major commercial hub to be called The Bellwether District.

To that end, environmental remediation is ongoing. The Clean Air Council is interested in speaking with nearby residents who are concerned regarding the specifics of the cleanup effort.

For more info, please go here.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Where’s the Bus? My School? My House? Afghan Resettlement, HIAS, and Philly


Read with pride and exasperation of the Philadelphia experience for our newest Afghan refugees and the helping hand offered by HIAS and so many other Philly folks. Click here to follow their new life in Northeast Philly.

Useful links

Community News and Events

BTW/FYI: Art Museum’s Jasper Johns Exhibit Closes Feb. 13

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In case you missed it – or if you’ve only seen it once – the major Jasper Johns retrospective entitled “Mind/Mirror” will end its Art Museum run on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 13. 

And Super it most certainly is: It’s simply one remarkable piece after another.

For all details and tickets, head here.

Jazz up your Nights

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Jazz up your winter (masked, with vax card) at The Kimmel’s Jazz Series.

Listen up….to some incredible performances by jazz divas like Bria Skonberg, Dianne Reeves, Laurin Talese, Ametta Johnson and Diana Krall. For diva details, click here.

‘Tis the Season: Girl Scout Cookies!

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Who doesn’t love Girl Scout cookies?

(If that would be you, we need to talk.)


For the rest of us, the season has begun!

You can snag your stash online or – preferably – in person.

Details for both can be found here.


And don’t forget to ask about the newest flavor: Adventurefuls!

Rumor has it that it’s a caramel-flavored crème with a dash of sea salt.

Pass the milk, please!

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Get a Bird’s Eye View

Nowadays, seems like you have to travel a bit further from the city to do something Covid sensible (outdoors) and fun. And you can experience the Eagle Festival 2022 virtually or in person at many sites in the Pinelands of South Jersey.

Check out the Barn Owls, take a guided walk, and let us know if you run into the Jersey Devil.

Workaround for Covid Tests Delivery to Apartments

Congressman Dwight Evans’ email advises that although "...... some Philadelphians who live in apartments have reported difficulties with the website, there are work-arounds. For example, you can include your apartment number in the FIRST address line instead – or in the apartment field, type APT followed by your apartment number. To order your delivery, click here


"There’s also a phone option for ordering the free tests: you can call 1-800-232-0233 to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages. This line is open 8 a.m. to midnight Eastern Time, seven days a week. There’s also TTY line (1-888-720-7489) to support access by hearing-impaired callers.


"Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-⁠home Covid-⁠19 tests. The Postal Service says orders will usually ship in 7-12 days."

In Search of Input re the City’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget


​​Got ideas about how the City should spend your hard-earned tax dollars?

Of course you do.

Do you wanna tell the City what they can do with it? 

Well, now’s your chance, as the City will be running a Virtual Budget Town Hall on January 27 at 6pm. In addition virtual budget focus groups will be held between Jan. 31 and Feb. 10.

For registration and details, go here.

Know (and Get) Your N95 Masks


Now that the CDC advises against the use of cloth masks, it’s necessary to up your game regarding what’s a ‘good’ mask and where it can be found. Easier said than done, however.

Unsurprisingly, not all masks are created equal, the details of which can be found here.

Guidance as to how and where to get yours, please go here.

Merchant Partners "Deals and Discounts" Program

Would you please support our local merchants and save money too? These local merchants will provide a deal or discount to any member who shows a current CCRA membership card and personal identification.

William Schwartz Jewelry, 1831 Chestnut St (215-665-8115)

Alimentari Restaurant at Di Bruno Bros., 1730 Chestnut St, 2nd Floor

Astral Artists - Use promo code "CCRA" to receive a $10 flat rate on all tickets to their virtual concerts.

Blue Sole Shoes, 1805 Chestnut St, (215-496-9244)

Branzino Italian BYOB, 261 S. 17th St (215-790-0103)

Di Bruno Bros., 1730 Chestnut St. (215-665-9220)

Dom's Shoe Repair, 203 S. 20th St (215-972-0098)

Excursions from the Square (215-732-8487, 215-738-4500)

Eye Candy Vision, 218 S. 20th St (215-568-3937)

Frameworks Studio and Gallery, 2103 Walnut St, (215-567-6800)

Good Karma Cafe, 331 S. 22nd St, (215-546-1479)

Liberty Pet Vets, 265 S. 20th St (888-458-8587)

Nature's Gallery Florist, 2124 Walnut St (215-563-5554)

Photo Lounge, 130 S.17th St. (267-322-6651)

Rittenhouse Hardware, 2001 Pine St. (215-735-6311)

Seafood Unlimited, 270 S. 20th St (215-732-3663)

The Bake Shop on 20th, 269 S. 20th St. (215-644-9714)

The Rounds, Use code CCRATHEROUNDS to receive free membership.

Ursula Hobson Fine Art Framing, 1528 Waverly St (215-546-7889)

Veda Modern Indian Bistro, 1920 Chestnut St, (267-519-2001)

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