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Development News

A commercial corridor manager brings signs of life to 52nd Street in West Philly

Akeem Dixon

52nd Street Station

Akeem Dixon reaches out to local businesses

The intersection of 52nd and Market streets in West Philly has struggled for decades, but prior to SEPTA's reconstruction of the Market-Frankford Line, which wrecked economic havoc on the area, the 52nd Street retail corridor was better known as West Philly's Main Street -- a proud city-within-the-city where small businesses thrived.  
The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (TEC-CDC) has been working for five years to bring that vitality back. And thanks to a grant provided by the Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), they recently hired the street's first-ever commercial corridor manager, Akeem Dixon, whose job description involves returning the retail corridor to its former glory.
That's a tall order, to be sure, but according to Dana Hanchin of the Philadelphia LISC office, initiatives are already moving forward.
At a recent stakeholders meeting, TEC-CDC revealed some of the key elements of its commercial corridor work plan. It includes beautification efforts such as pop-up gardens on vacant lots, and the launch of both a corridor-specific newsletter and a business directory. A biweekly radio program covering the corridor is now airing on West Philly's community radio station, WPEB 88.1 FM, and a branding campaign is also in the works.
Meanwhile, Dixon continues to act as an intermediary between business owners and residents in the area -- something of an impartial ombudsman, whose top priority involves "getting everyone at the same table, and talking," as LISC Philadelphia's James Crowder puts it.
"I can't say that wasn't happening before," says Crowder. "But I can say it's happening in a way now that's way more efficient and productive."
Source:  Dana Hanchin, LISC Philadelphia
Writer: Dan Eldridge

Photos by Samuel Dolgin-Gardner 
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