December 4, 2013
Heart of the City
In 2011, when developer Bart Blatstein bought the 18-story offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper and its tabloid sister, the Philadelphia Daily News, his plan to redevelop the property - as a casino complex, no less - was described in the media as "audacious," "impudent" and even "an Icarus-like dream." And rightly so.
The 87-year-old Beaux Arts-style building, with its distinctive clock tower and gold-tipped spire, is one block from Spring Garden Street, considered the border to North Philadelphia- arguably the most distressed neighborhood in town. For many urbanites, this onetime Brahmin bastion is now synonymous with decline and decay. Crime is such a concern that Temple University, in the heart of North Philadelphia, employs the largest university police force in the U.S. (and the third largest armed security force in the state).