Top Six Philly News Stories We Are Watching for 2015

Now that 2014 is officially in the books, it is time to look forward at the many exciting news stories that will affect our city in the coming year.  Keep an eye on the Bellevue “In the News” blog as well as our social media pages throughout the year as we will post regular updates on topics that spark our interests and hopefully yours as well.

To kick things off, here are the top six stories to watch in Philadelphia for 2015:

1. 2015 Mayor’s Race: Perhaps one of the most wide-open mayoral races in recent memory is unfolding before our eyes.  The next mayor faces a number of high stakes issues including education funding, charter school growth, pension obligations and retaining the growing millennial population, just to name a few.  How each candidate plans to address these issues and separate from the field will be an issue to watch closely in the coming weeks.  With a little more than five months to go before the primaries, there seems to be no clear front-runner that has emerged from the current field of candidates, which includes a former Philadelphia district attorney, two former city solicitors, a Philadelphia Gas Works Executive and an incumbent state senator.

 2. Papal Visit/World Meeting of Families: The world’s largest Catholic gathering of families is coming to Philadelphia, and it’s bringing Pope Francis. All eyes will be on the city from September 22-27 as we host the World Meeting of Families. The Pennsylvania Convention Center will welcome 20,000 conference attendees and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will host up to two million people expected to see the pope celebrate Mass. The economic impact of the conference and the Papal visit is estimated at more than $400 million. The social and cultural impact can’t be quantified so simply, but the number of people who are slated to come to Philadelphia could make us the third-largest city in the country.

 3. 2016 Democratic National Convention Host City Announcement:  On the national political scene, perhaps no storyline is being more closely followed than the announcement of the host city for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  In November, Philadelphia was selected as one of three finalists to host the Convention, along with Columbus, OH and New York City (Brooklyn).  A decision from the DNC on the host city is expected in the first quarter of 2015.

4.  New Media Outlets:  While traditional media outlets continue to grapple with the challenge of remaining viable, the fact is that new local media outlets are popping up with remarkable frequency in Philadelphia.  Jim Brady, formerly an executive editor at The Washington Post, has founded Billy Penn.  Perennial freelancer Patrick Kerkstra recently launched a new urban affairs blog, Citified, housed within the existing website. Larry Platt, former editor of Philadelphia Magazine and the Philadelphia Daily News, is launching The Philadelphia Citizen. And George Norcross, after being outbid for the Inquirer and, is behind the creation of Philly Voice.  The way we consume news may be changing, but our insatiable appetite for breaking news, first-looks and quality, credible information is not. What do these outlets bring to the table? Billy Penn is mobile-first. The Philadelphia Citizen is interactive and includes a mobile app. Citified promises unique views and analysis from veteran city reporters. Philly Voice boasts a fresh and forward-looking perspective. Whether you’re in the media business or a consumer of the news, stay tuned for updates about the impact these sites are having across the market.

 5. New Hotels, Apartments, and Retail for Center City:  One of the most exciting non-political developments is the explosion of hotel, residential and retail projects scheduled for construction or completion in 2016.  Of particular interest in Center City are the planned developments on Market Street east of Broad.  The renovation and transformation of The Gallery, coupled with the new Market East development (high-rise apartments, boutique offices, and a small hotel bounded by an array of bars, restaurants, a gourmet grocer and fitness center), will dramatically change the landscape of the Market Street Corridor, filling the “hole in the donut” of Center City’s renaissance.

 6. Delaware River Port Developments: In a city and region that is desperate to create family-sustaining jobs, the potential development of port-related jobs along the Delaware River continues to be a major economic story.  In July of 2014, the South Jersey Port Corporation announced that Holt Logistics had been selected as the developer and leaseholder for the newly created Port of Paulsboro, adding as many as 800 new jobs over time on the New Jersey side of the river.  On the Pennsylvania side, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority announced last Fall that it is accepting letters of interest for development of the proposed Southport Marine Terminal, with possible uses ranging from perishable goods to the centerpiece of a remarkable new “energy port” that could generate thousands of new jobs in years to come.  These developments follow the scheduled completion of the Delaware River Deepening project in 2017, which will allow for much larger shipping vessels to call the Port of Philadelphia.  The Port does not get a lot of news attention, but its jobs potential makes it a story to watch in 2015.

What’s catching your attention in Philadelphia for 2015? If there’s a trend, event or hot topic that didn’t make our list, share it with us—we love to hear from you.