Taxpayers are footing the bill for some of the renovations to the new home of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News at the former Strawbridge & Clothier building at Eighth and Market Streets.
Harrisburg is providing $3 million for the building's landlord, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, or PREIT, to redevelop 801 Market St. The funding is part of a $10.5 million grant for renovations to the Gallery at Market East from the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The landlord also is investing its own funds into the project.
Philadelphia Media Network, publisher of the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com, is not receiving state funds. But the money will be used to pay for renovations to the third floor, where the company is located, says PREIT CEO Joseph Coradino.
"They are a fabulous anchor to the beginning of a transformation of the Gallery," he said. "They bring 600 employees."
This is on top of a $2.9 million city loan that the media company is receiving for the move to 801 Market. While Gov. Tom Corbett finalized the grant in March, only recently has it become clear that the papers are benefiting. The state funds will also go toward fixing up other parts of the building.
A state report explains that "the improvements will bring a new office tenant, Philadelphia Media Network, Inc. (PMN), into approximately 129,000 square feet on the third floor of the buildings."
Philadelphia Media Network spokesman Mark Block says the renovations are a good use of taxpayer dollars. He says the project will help revitalize the Gallery at Market East, which has been criticized as unattractive and underutilized.
"The building, 801 Market, is a gem," Block says. "It is a gorgeous structure that both the city and the state, I think, have went to great lengths to continue as part of the legacy of this city."
State funds for the renovations to 801 Market were first approved by former Gov. Ed Rendell, and then re-approved by Corbett.
Last year, the Philadelphia Media Network was criticized for not publicly announcing it was taking city loans. Block says the company didn't disclose the details of the state grant because it is not receiving any of the state funds and did not apply for them.