Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is currently reviewing a new state capital budget that is calling for numerous new development projects across the state. Within this budget, through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein is poised to receive $100 million. If granted the money, these are just some of the projects that Blatstein is planning:
- Rehabilitation of the State Office Building at Broad and Spring Garden Street – $25 million
- Opening a 45-room hotel with a banquet hall near the Piazza at Schmidts – $45 million
- Opening a 86-suite hotel with a banquet hall at 2nd and Poplar St. – $25 million
Blatstein says his projects “would create jobs, generate tax revenue, and help sustain revitalization in many city neighborhoods.”
While these projects are praised by some city officials, others are wary of the fact that the money would be going to a private developer. Representative Michael O’Brian says, “I’m deeply disturbed by the state’s recent trend of financing for-profit entities.” One reason behind this concern is the nature of RACP – nominating parties are kept anonymous – creating a system with very limited accountability.
RACP began in 1986 and has funded many projects throughout Pennsylvania. Blatstein is not the only developer on the list to receive RACP funds this year.
Other projects that are awaiting approval under the new budget include:
- Sen. Arlen Specter’s library at Philadelphia University – $20 million
- Ardmore Transit Center – $9 million
- A golf course in Chester County – $20 million
Although it is unclear which state representative is backing Blatstein, it is plausible that not all of his projects will be approved by Rendell. Rendell will be reviewing Blatstein’s projects along with others that were green-lit by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this summer.
Sen. Larry Farnese would like to see Blatstein’s projects approved because of his “proven track record of success,” and because of the potential “economic boost to the city.”
Rendell is expected to decide what projects will get the green light this month, and we will continue to update you on any developments.