TAXPAYERS are footing the bill for some of the renovations to the former Strawbridge & Clothier building at 8th and Market Street, new home to Interstate General Media, publisher of the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com.
The state is providing $3 million for the building's landlord, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), to redevelop the building as part of a $10.5 million grant for renovations to the Gallery at Market East from the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). PREIT is also investing its own money in the project.
The state money reimburses PREIT for renovations to the third floor, where the company is situated, said PREIT's CEO, Joseph Coradino. This is on top of a $2.9 million city loan that Interstate is receiving to finance its move to 801 Market from 400 N. Broad St.
Coradino said the RACP grant was used for renovations to the walls, ceilings and lighting on Interstate's floor. It will also go toward fixing up other parts of the building.
Coradino said he didn't know exactly how much state funding was being used for Interstate's new headquarters. Neither did a spokesman for Gov. Corbett or Interstate spokesman Mark Block.
Block acknowledged that the company is benefiting from the state grant. He said the renovations are a good use of taxpayer dollars and will help revitalize the Gallery, which has been criticized as unattractive and under-utilized.
"The building, 801 Market, is a gem," said Block.
Coradino also defended the public financing. He said Interstate is a "fabulous anchor to the beginning of a transformation of the Gallery."
State funds for the renovations to 801 Market were first approved by former Gov. Ed Rendell, then reapproved by Corbett.