Philadelphia Extorts Itself – Loses Tens Of Millions On TWO Police HQ Buildings

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The Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. Building – Philadelphia

In 2014, renovations at the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building began, with the Philadelphia Police planning to use the building as its headquarters.  Philadelphia’s city government, rife with mismanagement and corruption, attempted to make use of a building that failed repeatedly to keep tenants, largely because of its location – smack dab in the middle of the 30 blocks of squalor in West Philadelphia:

It failed as a satellite campus for Lincoln and Cheyney Universities. It failed as a hub for local nonprofits. It was rejected by the judges at Family Court, who recoiled at the idea of crossing the Schuylkill to go to work.

Bear in mind, this has only so much to do with convenience – the Provident is located centrally enough to the necessary facilities for the department to access:

The length of the commute between 46th Street and the court complex at 13th and Filbert appears to be the reason the police asked the city to shop around for a new site. Yet the Provident’s location is anything but inconvenient.

The building, which the city acquired by default in 2008, sits at the foot of SEPTA’s 46th Street Station. My recent trip on the Market-Frankford Line from Eighth Street took 12 minutes, platform to platform. If you were to leave from the Criminal Justice Center next to City Hall, you could be at the Provident’s front door in under 10 minutes, less time than it takes to walk from the current police headquarters to the center’s courtrooms. For those who prefer to drive, the Provident is surrounded by a sprawling green campus, which means there is plenty of opportunity to create on-site parking.

So the city chose a location that was loathed by the police department from the start – and then waited until after they’d already spent tens of millions to change their mind…

Though the city has already spent $50 million on the renovation, completing the project and finishing out the spaces for the police could easily take $100 million more, according to original estimates. The newspaper tower, now owned by developer Bart Blatstein, would also be expensive to retrofit, especially because modern policing requires tremendous amounts of technology and security. The Nutter-era plan had also envisioned that the city’s medical examiner, morgue, and laboratories would share the space with the police.

Should they all find other homes, the city could be stuck with the half-finished Provident.

…and made sure to fatten the developer’s pockets when Mayor Kenney changed the HQ site in 2017 to the Inquirer Building in the desired downtown location:

Inquirer Building – Philadelphia

Conversion of the Inquirer Building on North Broad Street into the Philadelphia Police Department’s new headquarters – stacking up to be the second most expensive historic-rehabilitation project of its kind in city history – comes with an extra bonus for the plan’s developer: a federal historic-renovation subsidy said to be worth $40 million.

Building owner Bart Blatstein’s deal with the city allows him to retain funds generated by the federal historic tax credit being sought in connection with the $280.3 million plan for the 93-year-old tower at 400 N. Broad St., rather than using those proceeds to offset specific project costs.

In changing the police HQ location, the city of Philadelphia opted to spend a whopping $280 million buying and renovating the chosen (convenient) building, and gave the developer a $40 million tax break for the privilege of doing so.  And that is before the city figured out what to do with the old Provident building.

Surprise, surprise – the city is set to lose over 80% on its “investment” in the Provident’s renovations:

Philadelphia is poised to take a hit of more than $42 million in its sale of the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building after abandoning plans to locate the city’s police headquarters there.

The city is under contract to sell the historic West Philadelphia property for $10 million after paying more than $52 million to buy it and begin renovating it for use by the Police Department, the Philadelphia Tribune newspaper reported last week.

So former Mayor Nutter’s decision to pick a police HQ location not desired by the department, coupled by current Mayor Kenney’s decision to relocate the HQ (at considerable expense to the taxpayer), will cost the city over $42 million.  Total mismanagement of taxpayer funds is one of the single biggest reasons cities all over the nation are in dire straits fiscally…

…and of course, the city’s bureaucrats and politicians have no accountability whatsoever for their poor decisions, choosing instead to follow the tried-and-true pattern of kicking the can down the road:

Mayor Jim Kenney’s deal to borrow $252.5 million to transform 400 North Broad Street into a new police headquarters could cost taxpayers more than City Council anticipated when it approved the agreement last year.

The loan is expected to hit Philly’s balance sheets in nine years when the city plans to buy the former Inquirer headquarters from Blatstein.

Of course, the loss is far more than just the $42 million sunk into the Provident, or the $40 million tax break the city forked over to the developer, as Jim Quinn noted

The loss is far more than the $42 million reported. If they bought it for $52 million and are selling it for $10 million, they surely used city union labor for the last 5 years racking up millions more in renovation costs.

…and Quinn also eloquently sums up the city’s police headquarters procurement debacle:

To say the city of Philadelphia is a clusterfuck run by corrupt idiots would be an insult to clusterfucks and idiots everywhere. The Democrat scum who have run this city into the ground over the last 70 years of complete control, pay no price for their incompetence, corruption and fucking over of the taxpayers.

Now Mayor Kenney and his cronies get a bribe to put the police headquarters in some other building at a low low price of only $280 million, so this brilliant idea from the previous lowlife Democrat mayor is just put to rest. Meanwhile, the streets around both police headquarters locations are littered with gun shell casings, garbage, homeless deviants, potholes and exploding water pipes. Do you think $50 or $60 million could have been used in a better way?

And who gets fucked over? The taxpayers who will vote these worthless pieces of shit back into office every 4 years. How fucked up is that?

Kenney, for his part, seems more intent on using his platform to oppose Trump (and dancing like an idiot) than he does to actually run the city:

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, called President Donald Trump a “bully” and he hailed the judge’s ruling.

“It is a ruling that prevents a White House run by a bully from bullying Philadelphia into changing its policies,” Kenney said at a news conference.

And yet, the residents of Philadelphia ignore the city’s corrupt politics and their own poor circumstances, electing politicians just like Kenney year after year.  

The tale of Philadelphia’s bungling of its police headquarters will repeated on a larger scale, across nearly all major US municipalities, until the bill finally comes due.  Of course, Kenney and his ilk can rest easy – any actual accountability for their decisions will occur long after they leave office.