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Landmark going back to the city

With City Council approval expected this week, the city will quietly repossess the old Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building after a nonprofit couldn't pay the mortgage on the West Philadelphia landmark.

With City Council approval expected this week, the city will quietly repossess the old Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building after a nonprofit couldn't pay the mortgage on the West Philadelphia landmark.

With backing from the Nutter administration, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. is essentially taking back the 82-year-old limestone-and-steel building, now called the Center for Human Achievement, and the 15 acres it sits on. The building is owned by the Urban Education Development Research and Retreat Center, headed by State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila). Hughes's district office is a tenant in the building. Hughes could not be reached to comment.

Provident Mutual donated the 325,000-square-foot building to the Urban Education Foundation, a nonprofit partnership between Lincoln and Cheyney Universities, in the 1980s. The cost of operating and maintaining the building proved too high for the group and in 1993 a deal was worked out to sell the building to Hughes' group. The center, bounded by 46th, 48th and Market Streets and Haverford Avenue, was envisioned as a resource for community groups and a spur to further development in its West Philadelphia neighborhood, with its owner serving mainly as a landlord.

Deputy Commerce Director Duane Bumb said Hughes' group owed the industrial development corporation and the Philadelphia Commercial Development Corp. just under $6 million for the building. The city will use two acres for parking at the new Youth Study Center, to be built on five adjoining acres, and will evaluate the property over the next year and seek to consolidate city services at the building or sell it, Bumb said.

Brady sums up Carol Ann Campbell

Perhaps no city leader was as close to the late Carol Ann Campbell as was U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.).

"I believe her life partner for 25 years was our congressman, Bob Brady," Judge Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson, former president judge of Common Pleas Court, quipped during a three-hour memorial service for Campbell last week.

Brady referred to Campbell's nephews as his own during the service, and to her brother as his brother.

He also passed on some sentiments that Campbell had shared with him before her death Nov. 19.

Looking into the pews at St. Matthew's A.M.E. Church, he told City Council President Anna C. Verna that Campbell believed Verna was "very kind to her" and thanked her for sharing "institutional knowledge" during Campbell's brief Council tenure.

He then turned his attention to former Mayor John F. Street, telling him: "She wanted you to know you were a good mayor to her."

Sure, Street initially tried to turn Campbell down once or twice. But in the end, Brady told him: "She trained you well."

Next, Brady addressed a trio that from time to time fell on Campbell's bad side.

"She had three 'little bad black boys' she wanted to say hello to," Brady said, naming U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Mayor Nutter, and State Sen. Anthony Williams (D., Phila.).

As for himself, Brady said Campbell had a different name: "I was her 'bad little white boy.' "

The congressman then lashed out at the news media, saying they unfairly criticized Campbell in an effort to "balance" news stories. "And that's why there may be no more press in the city," he said.

- Marcia Gelbart

Dismal outlook for city's revenues

Given the budget crisis, the city's monthly revenue updates are being watched more closely than ever.

November's figures, which were published Friday by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, continue to paint a bleak picture.

The good news: wage-tax collections rallied a bit, reversing their slide earlier this fiscal year. And the Phillies juiced up the city's amusement tax, which is levied on ticket sales. The city has collected $1 million more than it did last year through the tax.

But the good news is dwarfed by the bad news.

The city's transfer tax - which it collects when properties are sold - continued "falling off a cliff," Finance Director Rob Dubow said.

Transfer-tax totals are $28 million off last year's collections through November, an enormous figure that does not bode well for the rest of the year.

Finally, Dubow worries that wage-tax collections won't hold up as layoffs mount. The national jobless numbers are skyrocketing, and there is little reason to think unemployment won't rise in Philadelphia as it goes does across the country.

- Patrick Kerkstra