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NEWS
June 2, 2008
Mayor Nutter's decision to conduct a forensic audit of the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative provides a welcome opportunity to assess a program that costs too much and has failed to deliver on its promise. It was always hard to get a handle on NTI's performance when its creator, John Street, was mayor. Street was always quick to recount the good things that NTI had done but was loath to discuss the agency's shortcomings. Nutter is acting in the wake of questionable accounting practices involving NTI that were recently discovered.
NEWS
June 7, 2005 | By MARK ALAN HUGHES
MAYOR STREET has been celebrating the fourth anniversary of the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. His fifth and last budget for NTI has been submitted and the long-time director is retiring. All the back-patting is causing me a problem. People keep asking for my assessment of NTI, knowing I've been a constant critic. For almost two years, I've resolved to just ignore NTI and let the mayor get away with the charade. But at the risk of losing the feeling of bliss that comes from ignoring things, I've decided to make my own closing remarks on NTI: The emperor has no clothes - and it's not a pretty sight.
NEWS
February 11, 2003 | By PATRICIA SMITH & HERB WETZEL
THOSE OF us working on the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) welcome feedback on a project of which we are truly proud. Our minds are open to ways to improve the way we do business. A central theme of NTI is to improve the way government does business. An honest comparison of Philadelphia to other cities would show that the Street administration is engaged in of one of the most sweeping urban-renewal projects in the nation. NTI is about removing the unsightly scars of urban decay confronting Philadelphia and so many other large post-industrial cities, while paving the way for the construction of new and affordable housing, rehabilitation and preservation of many other homes and buildings, and cleaner, safer communities.
NEWS
March 12, 2004 | By Isaac Miller
Just over a year ago, the congregation I serve, the Church of the Advocate, and the organization I help lead, Philadelphia Interfaith Action, were pleased to host the unveiling of the city's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. The mayor and his staff presented seven large sites that were slated for redevelopment in the first phase of new housing production in the city. The mayor pledged that more than 2,000 units would be built on sites as varied as Mill Creek, Logan, Brewerytown, Tasker, the Byberry State Hospital site, the Cecil B. Moore home-ownership zone in North Philadelphia, and the Capehart development near the Naval Shipyard.
NEWS
July 28, 2015 | By Claudia Vargas, Inquirer Staff Writer
Fourteen years after then-Mayor John F. Street launched his signature effort to eliminate blight in Philadelphia, the city has yet to spend the last of the funds set aside for the legacy project. About $38 million remains of the $296 million that was raised in 2001 through a bond sale. The money was intended to fund Street's ambitious Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). Following then-Mayor Ed Rendell's focus on sprucing up Center City and the Avenue of the Arts, Street wanted to have a lasting impact in the city's neighborhoods, especially the blighted ones, by demolishing thousands of vacant buildings and acquiring properties for redevelopment.
NEWS
March 13, 2004
The 21st century is looking pretty scattershot right now - at least when it comes to Mayor Street's $275 million anti-blight effort called the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. That's one of the conclusions of the 21st Century Review Forum, which Street asked to look at housing and other administration programs. The report's suggestion? Put one person as the overseer of all matters housing and NTI. A good response? Putting Secretary of Housing Kevin Hanna in that role.
NEWS
October 19, 2009
JUST HOW LONG will taxpayers put up with watching their hard-earned tax money become fuel in the bonfire of government incompetence? We suppose that question has been asked for a few hundred years, but the bonfire always seems to burn a little brighter here than anywhere else. Case in point: A new audit of former Mayor John Street's signature Neighborhood Transformation Initiative reveals a lack of oversight and management that led to an overcommitment of at least $13 million.
NEWS
August 29, 2002
THE STREET administration has taken issue with a Daily News editorial criticizing the mayor's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative and its slug-like pace. (You can read the administration's position on Page 21.) Since the Street Team isn't receptive to our criticism, perhaps it will accept a gentle suggestion. If the administration is serious about transforming blighted neighborhoods, bringing hope to residents long ignored by Center City interests and repopulating this shrinking city, then it should soon come up with some sensible proposals on where best to build nine new high schools School CEO Paul Vallas has promised the city.
NEWS
June 27, 2007 | By Gregory Heller
For the last eight years, the City of Philadelphia has placed a priority on community investment through its Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). The program's successes and failures offer valuable lessons for the next mayoral administration. Neighborhood investment is the best long-term strategy for combating crime, improving our schools, and attracting businesses, jobs, and residents. The need to invest in neighborhoods is clear, but the city should incorporate a different vision and focus.
NEWS
July 27, 2005 | By Anthony S. Twyman INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Ola Solanke is baffled at why he has not received more help from Mayor Street's $296 million anti-blight program in turning many vacant lots in his Francisville neighborhood in North Philadelphia into an arts center and restaurant. Spurred by the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, Solanke relocated his family in 2001 from Chestnut Hill to the 1500 block of Parrish Street, a blighted area where prostitutes and drug dealers congregated and weeds grew tall. Since then, Solanke said, he has spent a considerable amount of time and about $500,000 of his money to clean up the block and prepare for his project: the Arts Garage.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
July 28, 2015 | By Claudia Vargas, Inquirer Staff Writer
Fourteen years after then-Mayor John F. Street launched his signature effort to eliminate blight in Philadelphia, the city has yet to spend the last of the funds set aside for the legacy project. About $38 million remains of the $296 million that was raised in 2001 through a bond sale. The money was intended to fund Street's ambitious Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). Following then-Mayor Ed Rendell's focus on sprucing up Center City and the Avenue of the Arts, Street wanted to have a lasting impact in the city's neighborhoods, especially the blighted ones, by demolishing thousands of vacant buildings and acquiring properties for redevelopment.
NEWS
March 22, 2013 | BY MARK ALAN HUGHES
THESE DAYS I'm feeling a lot like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day. " Back in 1999, the Inquirer ran an op-ed of mine that opened with the line: "The future of Philadelphia rests on our ability to manage decline. " The key point of the op-ed was this: "Coordination - even if we could pull it off - is simply not a strong enough response. We're attempting to coordinate agencies designed for an era of growth and oriented to the obsolete land uses that abandoned properties had 10 or 50 years ago. All these agencies are busy with core missions that have nothing to do with managing the effects of depopulation; vacant land is not their priority.
BUSINESS
August 6, 2012 | By Maria Panaritis, Inquirer Staff Writer
It was almost by accident, the way City Council President Darrell L. Clarke shared the news with his mentor, former Mayor John F. Street. But in a big city where battles over business can be complex and too numerous to count, even a rare victory like this one in Brewerytown can become an afterthought. The duo were on the phone Thursday morning when Street's onetime right-hand man said he had to dash for 31st Street and Girard Avenue. There, a construction crane would soon load a steel roof onto a new cinder-block building in a neighborhood that had once been the city's beer-brewing capital.
NEWS
May 20, 2011 | By Annette John-Hall, Inquirer Columnist
After Michael Nutter handily defeated T. Milton Street Sr. in the Democratic primary Tuesday night, the mayor told supporters he wanted the "new Philadelphia" to "soon be on the top-10 safest list. " Well, apart from his showering Charles H. Ramsey with a $60,0000 raise to get him to stay, a lot of people complain that they haven't seen what the mayor's doing to make the city safer, because it sure isn't getting any safer in their neighborhoods. Those folks were probably among the 24 percent who voted for Street.
NEWS
August 6, 2010
IREAD with great interest the articles reminding us that all that blight and resulting consequences are one of our city's greatest challenges. Over three decades, the city never developed a strategic response (with the exception of Mayor Goode's North Philadelphia Plan) with the resources required to arrest and eliminate blight in many of our neighborhoods. As a result, a huge inventory of abandoned dangerous buildings and trash-strewn vacant lots became the norm in some neighborhoods.
NEWS
June 9, 2010 | By Monica Yant Kinney, Inquirer Columnist
Anyone who's lived in Philadelphia for more than a minute knows that unless you're rich or connected, deals with City Hall should be conducted with one eyebrow raised and both hands on your wallet. Mayor John F. Street's much-ballyhooed Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) aimed to do right by the little guy. Vacant property would be seized by the city and turned over to decent folks. True urban pioneers would, for once, reap rewards for their troubles. Given NTI's hype - and $296 million in bond funding, $45 million of which has yet to be spent - can you blame sculptor Andrew Jevremovic and his wife, River Algiers Trappler, for dropping their guard?
NEWS
June 2, 2010 | By Jennifer Lin, Inquirer Staff Writer
The clock is ticking loudly at City Hall, and if the Nutter administration and City Council do not move fast, Philadelphia could lose $45 million to fight blight. The money with the Cinderella deadline is the last of the bond proceeds for the city's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, an expensive crusade that former Mayor John F. Street launched nearly a decade ago to demolish abandoned buildings and acquire vacant property. Of the $296 million raised since 2001 for NTI, this last pot of money has the most strings attached.
NEWS
October 26, 2009
CHARGED WITH investigating how efficiently taxpayer money is being spent, the office of controller is among the most critical in city government, especially our city government. But it is also the most flawed - because it's an elected office, the job is inherently political. But the politics would be even more complicated if the job were appointive. The city needs a controller who is independent enough of the system to challenge it, but is familiar enough with the system (and to those in it)
NEWS
October 19, 2009
JUST HOW LONG will taxpayers put up with watching their hard-earned tax money become fuel in the bonfire of government incompetence? We suppose that question has been asked for a few hundred years, but the bonfire always seems to burn a little brighter here than anywhere else. Case in point: A new audit of former Mayor John Street's signature Neighborhood Transformation Initiative reveals a lack of oversight and management that led to an overcommitment of at least $13 million.
NEWS
October 16, 2009
Mayor Nutter and City Council should accept a new audit as a warning against resuming the city's anti-blight program until they devise a more coherent plan with tighter controls. The report by city Controller Alan Butkovitz found serious mismanagement of the $300 million Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, begun by former Mayor John F. Street in 2002. The program is riddled with examples of shoddy record-keeping and misspent money. NTI was to have been Street's crowning achievement.
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