February: Comings & Goings

Matt Rader is the New President of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society
Matt Rader, an accomplished nonprofit leader and management consultant, is now the 37th president of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS). Rader brings with him experience in urban parks, neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation and strategic management. A graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Rader was most recently at global firm McKinsey & Company, and has also served as executive director of the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust and of East Passyunk Avenue’s Business Improvement District. 

“I am honored to lead PHS in continuing its 189-year track record of connecting people with horticulture,” says Rader, “and using horticulture to make Philadelphia a healthier, more beautiful, more dynamic place.”

Andrew Stober Hired as A VP at University City District
Andrew Stober, former chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU), is the new vice president for Planning and Economic Development at University City District. In his new role, Stober will oversee public space development and management, commercial corridor development, and pedestrian and transportation movements for University City, along with continuing UCD’s mission of promoting the neighborhood’s vibrancy and ensuring public safety. Stober sees “an important opportunity to use new public spaces, improved transportation options and commercial corridor support to make University City an international model for inclusive development.”

80 Acres of Croydon Woods to be Preserved
On Jan. 6, the Heritage Conservancy in Doylestown was named as steward of an 80-acre parcel of Croydon Woods. The land is one of the last undeveloped expanses of wooded wetland forests in the region, and it was transferred to the conservatory for preservation purposes from the prior owners, Rohm and Haas Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company.

The Heritage Conservancy plans to maintain the site in a “mostly natural, undisturbed state,” and intends to perform an assessment of the property’s natural resources. They will then develop a management and stewardship plan in accordance to the needs of the ecosystem. 

Post Brothers Apartments Receives City’s First LEED Gold Certification for a Residential High-Rise
Post Brothers Apartments, a real estate company that specializes in urban residential communities, was awarded LEED Gold certification for its Goldtex apartment complex from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Chinatown project, a 13-story former shoe factory, is the first apartment high-rise to achieve LEED Gold certification. The zero-carbon-footprint facility runs entirely on wind-generated power, a staple of the Post Brothers’ design elements. 

“After the warmest December on record, environmental issues are top-of-mind for many of us,” said Michael Pestronk, CEO and co-founder of Post Brothers. He added that their approach was helping to “reverse the trend of building pollution in our cities.”

Redevelopment Authority Reclaims Eastwick Land
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) and developer Korman Residential have reached an accord, terminating the 50-year-old Eastwick Redevelopment Agreement, and returning control of approximately 135 acres of land to the PRA. The land, which neighbors the Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, was protected by the Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition and the broader Eastwick community in 2012, when it was discovered that Korman Residential intended to develop 722 rental units and 1,034 parking spaces. The land transfer to the PRA has a four-year purchase option to the City of Philadelphia, subject to the results of a planning process that will be led by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. 

Philadelphia Students Compete in Waste Management Competition
Since returning to school this fall, middle school students from the Philadelphia region have been developing waste management solutions for the 2015–2016 Future City Competition. The nationwide contest’s theme is Waste Not, Want Not, in which students will design a virtual city using “SimCity” video game software to analyze waste management systems and develop real-world solutions. After the virtual model is completed, teams bring their ideas to life by building a tabletop scale model of their city using recycled materials. 

Students from the region are competing with more than 40,000 participants from 1,350 schools across the nation. First-place winners from the regional finals will compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C., from Feb. 13 to 17, and prizes for finalists include a trip to Space Camp and more than $15,000.

Gas From Organic Waste  Offered As Alternative to Fracking
A new program from Philadelphia’s Energy Co-op aims to incentivize landfill operators to distribute biogas produced by decomposing organic waste at their landfills to local businesses as an alternative to fracked natural gas. 

“This new RNG product has the potential to change how natural gas is produced in the region,” said Eric Kravitz, director of business development at the Energy Co-op. “When you purchase the RNG product, you’re taking a stand against fracking, supporting the development of renewable natural gas and helping to achieve a cleaner, healthier future for Pennsylvania.”

The system is similar to Renewable Energy Certificates, which monetize the environmental benefit of using renewable electricity. Members of the Energy Co-op can now purchase the Renewable Natural Gas Credits, although they will continue to receive pipeline natural gas from PECO to their homes.