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PHILADELPHIA-On behalf of the Greater Philadelphia First civic association, chief executive officer Sam Katz, has sent a letter to the governor’s office and legislators, urging the state to withhold funding for expansion of the Downtown Pennsylvania Convention Center until the convention authority board provides “demonstrable evidence of implementation” of management changes that have been recommended. For now, GPF refuses to endorse the $232-million state grant the authority is seeking to foot half the $464-million bill for a 300,000-sf addition to the center.

Mere promises to adapt recommendations made by locally based-Econsult, according to Katz, are insufficient to warrant the grant.

As a result of GPF’s protest, state representative Dwight Evans, a Democrat from Philadelphia, urged the state House Appropriations committee to table the grant proposal, which was to come up today as part of a capital budget bill.

Meanwhile, Charles Pizzi, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter countering GPF’s and urging legislators to approve the grant on condition the center authority addresses myriad problems pointed out in the Econsult report.

To add to the authority’s ongoing problems, which include the absence of a president and chief executive office, two board members resigned, acknowledging their positions on the board violate an anti-nepotism statute.

Among GPF’s recommendations for change is the appointment of two people withbackgrounds in the hospitality industry to sit on the authority’s board. No current members represent that industry.

In an unrelated matter, Philadelphia advances installation of new pedestrian and vehicular lighting on West Market Street and JFK Blvd., as part of a “streetscape.” The project is managed by Center City District, and jointly funded by CCD, PECO Energy and the city.

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