New year, new Philly

It’s a new year, and that means there’s a new Philadelphia waiting to be experienced. OK, so the year began on repeat as the Eagles are once again sitting at home empty-handed, but that’s all

It’s a new year, and that means there’s a new Philadelphia waiting to be experienced. OK, so the year began on repeat as the Eagles are once again sitting at home empty-handed, but that’s all the more reason to learn to love the city in a different (and much more dependable) way.

From record-breaking buildings, artists and shows, to breaking ground on the Avenue of the Arts and breaking up people’s smoking habits, Philly in 2007 is as fresh as a New Year’s resolution – except this one, you can actually keep.

City Hall Happenings

Last year, 406 people died from gun violence in the city. In 2007, four candidates are working to show you how they can help push that number closer to zero.

The Philadelphia mayoral race is officially in full gear, with contenders state Rep. Dwight Evans (DPhila.), Rep. Chakah Fattah (D-Phila.), businessman Tom Knox and former city councilman Michael Nutter taking a stance on issues that affect the city most,
namely its frighteningly high homicide rate.

Candidates Evans, Nutter and Fattah favor
putting more police on the street, while contender Knox believes that to attack gun violence, the city must attack poverty by creating jobs and encouraging economic growth. Elections take place Nov. 4.

Thank you for not smoking

You’ve gone cold turkey, stuck on the patch, chewed the gum and seen the hypnotist, but nothing will get you to
quit smoking, until now.

For 2007, the butts are out in all Philadelphia workplaces, bars, restaurants
and galleries. Smokers have some options,
however, because the ban allows bars where at least 90 percent of income comes from drinks to apply for waivers. Following more than six years of debate, Mayor John Street signed the ban in early September, with restrictions taking full effect Jan. 8.

Skyline City

No longer will Liberty Place reign supreme in the Philadelphia sky. Once finished, the
new Comcast Center at 1701 JFK Boulevard
will catch air at 975 feet, surpassing
the Center City shopping center and of-
fice complex by a whopping 17 feet.

It is the first major office tower constructed in Center City in a decade, and, once complete, will be the 11th tallest building in the United States, the highest between Chicago and New York.

Original plans for the structure, formerly
named One Pennsylvania Place had the building penciled in at 746 feet tall.

“Originally it was not the tallest
building in Philadelphia by the original
design,” said Ginny Leonard, press representative for Liberty Properties real estate company.

“It wasn’t really a deliberate attempt
to be the tallest building. The building
was redesigned when Comcast signed
up as lead tenant, and Comcast required a
somewhat different type of building with
the ability to grow.”

The $472 million building will be
ready for occupancy this September. The structure’s 1.25 million square feet
and 57 stories will be home to two restaurants (including a new George Perrier
restaurant), various ground level shops
and offices.

Dirty Pop, Guily Pleasure

The Mickey Mouse club is coming to town,
and they’re all grown up. Christina Aguilera will perform cuts from her
latest album, “Back to Basics” and old
favorites at the Wachovia Center April 3.

Thought “SexyBack” sounded good in the
club, and even better as your cell phone’s ringtone?

Imagine hearing the hit amid thousands of
screaming fans when JT brings sexy back to the Wachovia Center stage on March 27.

They may not have Disney in Scotland, but
Snow Patrol is becoming the next MTV darling with their U.S. hit “Chasing Cars.” The hottest UK export since Coldplay, the band will make a stop at the Tweeter Center March 24 with supporting artist (and treadmill fanatics) OK Go …

Meat Up

Only carnivores need read further, because
the recently opened Fogo De Chao is home to more meat than a South Philly butcher.

At $44.50, the price seems steep – but the value is in how much filet mignon, linguica (pork sausages), or cordeiro (leg of lamb)
a person can stomach. Waiters serve customer selected meat by churrasco, the Brazilian Gaucho way of roasting meats over open-fire pits.

At this all-you-caneat meat lover’s paradise, a two-sided disk controls the pace of your meal. Turn the disk to green,
and service for an all-youcan-eat-dinner is yours. Turn the disk to red, and you can eat your meal in peace – until the waft of beef from a nearby table turns your disk once again to green.

Xochitl, 408 South Second St., (215) 238-7280, closed Monday,
This spring break, skip Cancun and check out Xochitl, a new restaurant and lounge serving the most authentic Mexican cuisine and tequila north of the border (or at least south of Broad).

Since opening to the public on Jan. 10, customers have enjoyed entrees like brazed goat, pork shank, fillet and whole roasted fish averaging at prices between $17 and $25, restaurant manager Jillian Nonemacher said.

Open until 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, the restaurant’s lounge offers over 50 tequilas. “Any of which can be turned into a margarita,” said Nonemacher.

Southern Hospitality

The Avenue of the Arts is extending
to Lombard and it’s time for you to follow.
“Philadelphia has transformed completely
in the past 15 years, but never as much as it has in the last five,” said Sara Garonzik, artistic director of the Philadelphia Theatre Company. “Part of this transformation includes construction on the company’s new theater on Broad and Lombard streets, as well as an adjoining apartment and restaurant complex, Symphony House on Broad and Pine streets.

“Phase one included the Kimmel Center, and we are the first big project happening in phase two,” Garonzik said.

“The vision was for phase two to be more
cultural, but also residential. So people
will be there day in and day out, and there
will still be life on the avenue after the

The 365 seat, two-stage theater will
open with a world debut play by renowned
playwright Bill Irwin.

Spotlight On

Avenue of the Arts isn’t only extending its reach, but its star quality with many exciting off-Broadway shows this season, including the cult classic Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” a return season of the Broadway
musical hit “Wicked” and the heart-warming tale of “Annie.”

Royal Philly

King Tut may have died 3,500 years ago,
but his legacy lives on thanks to this year’s country-wide tour with enough hype for a modern day celebrity. Tutankhamun, or the “Boy King,” ruled Egypt from the age of eight to his estimated death in his late teens or early twenties. Why he died so young remains a mystery, adding to the allure of one of the largest and most well-known Egyptian pharaoh tomb discoveries ever made.

When the exhibit makes its final states-side stop in Philadelphia this February, the Franklin Institute will be transformed to 1323 B.C. with an exhibit of 50 artifacts excavated from King Tut’s tomb, including the gold crown he wore
on the throne.

King Tut last made his rounds in the states
during a seven-city tour in the 70s. So while the Boy King lives forever, his exhibit won’t. Come this September, the King is leaving the building — and unlike that other King, he won’t be making unexplainable public appearances anytime

Sammy Davis can be reached at

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