| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

neighborhood innovation : Development News

372 neighborhood innovation Articles | Page: | Show All

BICYCLE COALITION: Volunteer training, bridges that open and close, and a new look

Editor's note: This is presented as part of a content partnership with The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia gets a new look this week, with an updated (and awfully sharp, in our opinion) logo as part of its 40th anniversary. It has never been easier to be a part of the Bicycle Coalition's efforts. The organization is holding an outreach training on Wednesday (April 4) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at its office at 1500 Walnut St. (Suite 305) in Philadelphia. The Bicycle Coalition is looking for volunteers willing to help man tables at events this summer, like the Kensington Sculpture Derby, and conduct street outreach. RSVP here ([email protected]) or call 215-399-1598 (x707).
Walnut Lane Bridge Rehab Q&A
The mighty Walnut Lane Bridge stands tall over the Wissahickon, but will soon undergo rehab. PennDOT is hosting a public meeting to answer questions, collect comments and hear concerns that will help inform the project. The Q&A session is set for Thursday (April 5) from 5-7:30 p.m. at Kendrick Recreation Center (5822 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia).
Speaking of Bridges
The Ben Franklin Bridge's South Walkway reopened on Monday to the public. Walkway hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, weather permitting. The north walkway will now be closed to the public.
Philly Public Art Bike Tour
If you're interested in the guided Public Art Bike Tours in Fairmount Park on April 14 and 29, you're not alone. The more challenging, 10-mile rides are all booked, but you can email here ([email protected]) to be added to the wait list. Sufficient demand may lead to another day of tours in May.
There is still availability for a family-friendly, 4-mile loop slated for April 29 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. All tours begin at the Iroquois Sculpture at 24th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. and end at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
THE BICYCLE COALITION OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA has been making the region a better place to ride a bike through advocacy, education, and outreach since 1972. The nonprofit, membership organization's programs include Bike Philly, the Bicycle Ambassadors, Safe Routes Philly, the Complete the Schuylkill River Trail campaign, and Neighborhood Bike Works (now an independent organization). Follow the Bicycle Coalition on Facebook, Twitter, and on their blog.

Send feedback here.

People's Emergency Center gets $600k to continue improvements in West Philly

Wells Fargo and the People’s Emergency Center have a 25-year relationship, one of many the West Philadelphia institution uses to leverage its expertise in community development. 
That relationship got a six-year extension worth $600,000, announced at a special event last Thursday inside a building symbolic of PEC’s recent impact in West Philly – 3861 Lancaster Ave., the official home for the organization’s Make Your Mark neighborhood planning campaign and a formerly vacant storefront church redesigned by PEC and Interface Studio.
According to Kira Strong, PEC's Vice President of Community and Development, that funding will have the following impact in the first year:
- 179 jobs (mostly construction)
- 14 facade renovations (residential and commercial)
- 150 youth and adults trained on computers
- 1,000 community  members served in some way
While these estimates are conservative and impacts for beyond Year 1 are still being developed, the old church was buzzing with anticipation of both the announcement and the next steps in the PEC-led neighborhood planning process. That yearlong process will culminate in a public meeting on April 10, when priorities for implementation will be suggested. Nearly 400 door-to-door surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews informed the plan.
The $600,000 funding is part of a tax credit partnership run by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development known as the Neighborhood Partnership Program. PEC's ongoing neighborhood plan will inform the NPP's six-year plan. It's the second time PEC has won NPP funding with Wells Fargo's support.
"We're really trying to leverage the funding we've received and the momentum we've gained in seeing marked improvement in our community," says Strong.

Source: Kira Strong, People's Emergency Center

Planning Commission working with community group to boost quality of life in Eastern North Philly

Despite being a short owl’s flight away from Temple University, the West and South Kensington and Norris Square neighborhoods in Eastern North Philadelphia have been afflicted with the urban ills seen in other inner-city neighborhoods. Not oblivious to this, Associacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM) has set out to re-define the communities. One way in which they’re looking to do this is by partnering with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) on its Eastern North Philadelphia quality of life plan, "Our Community, Our Ideas."

APM and the City Planning Commission are studying the neighborhoods between Lehigh and Cecil B. Moore Aves., 9th and American Sts., and a small sliver of Ludlow, according to David Fecteau, the Commission’s community planner who’s tasked with studying the area. He adds that this study comes at an appropriate time, as the city is applying for a $30 million federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant for the area. So far, PCPC and APM are reaching out to community members, a process that has included “well over 200 residents and other stakeholders,” says Fecteau.

PCPC is working closely with the enterprising neighborhood group APM to truly understand the region they’re studying. APM is focusing on seven areas, says Jennifer Rodriguez, the deputy vice president for Programs and Sustainable Communities. The areas are:
  • Income and wealth 
  • Economic development
  • Education
  • Leadership
  • Healthy environment and lifestyle
  • Arts and culture
  • Children and youth

APM’s focus areas are modeled after the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI). Rodriguez says that one impetus for these particular concentrations is that a third of land in their coverage area is vacant. APM hopes to develop this vacant land, without forcing existing residents out. “The neighborhood wants a diverse community of mixed incomes and family make-ups,” says Rodriguez. 

It should surprise no one that environmental sustainability is playing a large role in PCPC and APM’s study. Rodriguez says APM is already partnering with the Water Department, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), and the School District to provide rain barrels at local schools. Finally, she says that a new transit-oriented development (TOD) will break ground on April 10 along 9th St. at the Temple University Regional Rail station. APM makes it clear that use of and development around rail and transit nodes will be closely studied by the City Planning Commission. 

Sources: David Fecteau, Philadelphia City Planning Commission and Jennifer Rodriguez, APM
Writer: Andy Sharpe

Philadelphia, state both look to produce 'rational process' for city's 40,000 parcels of vacant land

While you wouldn’t know it from looking at Center or University Cities, Philadelphia has an enormous amount of vacant land scarring the cityscape -- some 40,000 parcels, to be exact.  The scourge of vacant land twists its way through South and Southwest Philly, flexes into West Philly, rolls into North Philly, and extends into Northeast and Northwest Philly. Given the citywide nature of the vacancy problem and its mounting costs, the Nutter administration, City Council, and the state House and Senate all seem eager to address it. In fact, Mayor Nutter appears ready to release a new plan on vacant land, while the state Senate may soon begin debate on a bill to set up land banks to deal with vacant land.

Philadelphia’s managing director is just about done with the city’s new vacant land plan, according to Rick Sauer, the executive director of the Philadelphia Association of CDCs (PACDC). The city’s upcoming proposal only deals with city-owned land (only about 25 percent of all vacant parcels), and thus does not push for a land bank for privately held vacant land. Advocates see the Nutter administration’s plan as a step in the right direction, even if it might not go as far as they would like. “The administration is trying to create a rational process for vacant land,” says Karen Black, the principal at May 8 Consulting, a firm that has worked with PACDC on vacant land issues.

The Nutter administration’s ideas come on the heels of a land bank bill written by Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez and co-sponsored by Councilman Bill Green last month. Black confirms that this bill aims to consolidate ownership of vacant land into one land bank, which means it goes substantially further than the bill being drafted by the mayor’s office. She adds that City Council hearings on Sanchez and Green’s bill might kick off as soon as May.  

There is also support for dealing with vacant land at the state level, with legislation being proposed that is similar to the land bank bill in City Council. Black informs us that the state House passed a land bank bill by Philadelphia Rep. John Taylor in February. She enthusiastically points out that this bill would enable private properties to be sold directly into a land bank, without the city having to change its charter.

Meanwhile, on the state Senate side, there is also some hearty support for land bank legislation. Senator David Argall, a Republican who represents parts of Berks, Lehigh, and other counties north and west of the Philly suburbs, has introduced a bill in the Senate designed to be a companion to the bill that passed the House. Black reassures that the passage of the House bill might mean action in the Senate is imminent. 

Black and Sauer are unequivocal about the neighborhood blight caused by vacant land. “Vacant properties have a significant negative impact on property values,” laments Sauer, who conducted a study with the city Re-Development Authority (PRA) on vacant land in late 2010. Sauer elaborates that the study found a 6 to 20% loss in property values caused by the presence of nearby vacant land. He also lambastes vacant properties as havens for drug activity, arson, and illicit dumping, which entail significant quality-of-life problems. PACDC’s study found that vacant land cost the city $20 million each year in maintenance costs.  

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Sources: Karen Black, May 8 Consulting and Rick Sauer, PACDC    

Liberty Bike Share builds support, strategy to introduce long-awaited bike sharing program

What do New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Spartanburg SC, and Hollywood FL all have in common? Hopefully you’ll have an answer by the time I’m finished with this sentence. If you don’t, these are all East Coast cities that offer bike sharing. Notice that Philadelphia is not in there. With this in mind, a team from the University of Pennsylvania is looking to put our city on par with the likes of Spartanburg by establishing Liberty Bike Share, which aims to bring bike sharing to Center City, University City, South Philly, and the Temple University-area.

Liberty Bike Share is the product of three Masters degree candidates at UPenn who closely analyzed the 2010 Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) “Philadelphia Bike Share Concept Study,” says Dylan Hayden, who’s helping to organize the bike share concept. Hayden says Liberty is hoping to make 2,500-2,700 bicycles available to be shared at a cost of abougt $15 million. He adds that Liberty has the support of the Center City District and certain members of City Council. At this point, his group is waiting for the city’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) to issue an RFP. 

As is usually the case, the cost of setting up operations is one of the biggest challenges Liberty faces. Hayden emphasizes that his team is looking to solicit pledges from local hospitals, universities, insurance companies, and other private sector entities willing to chip in. He does admit that securing financial contributions in the Philadelphia-area can be “like squeezing a turnip.” On this note, MOTU has identified the up-front costs of bike sharing as one of its biggest worries. 

Hayden says his team hopes to implement Liberty Bike Share in two phases, with the first concentrating on Center and University Cities and the second extending the program up to Temple. Liberty has two companies in mind, Alta and B-Cycle, to operate the bike share. Alta operates the bike sharing programs in New York City, D.C., and Boston, while B-Cycle is responsible for bike sharing in Spartanburg, Chicago, Denver, and elsewhere. Hayden envisions charging members an annual fee of anywhere between $75 and $90.

The UPenn team hopes Liberty Bike Share will complement mass transit in Philadelphia. “We’re looking to deal with last-mile issues,” says Hayden, who’s talking about the distance between a transit or rail stop and someone’s final destination. Indeed, the Penn senior envisions a future where someone can (as an example) take a train to Market East Station and share a bike to get to their final destination. Hayden hopes to work with SEPTA to incorporate bike sharing in with their upcoming New Payment Technology.

Locally, only one borough offers bike sharing. That would be Pottstown, a borough with around 22,000 people in Western Montgomery County. Bike Pottstown, Pottstown's bike sharing program, is run by Zagster, which launched its bike sharing consultancy in Philadelphia under the name CityRyde before moving to Cambridge, Mass last year. Bike Pottstown is a free bike share, which has filled the streets of the borough with 15 eye-snatching yellow bicycles. 

Hayden is unequivocal about the benefits of bike sharing. “Bike sharing is a policy Swiss army knife,” he says. By this, he means it ameliorates a host of policy issues, including healthcare, sustainability, and mobility. He also says that the city already has much of the infrastructure in place to support bike sharing, including the 215 miles of bike lanes he cites. Bike sharing would provide Philadelphia an opportunity to catch up to other American cities, large and small.  

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Dylan Hayden, Liberty Bike Share

New Manayunk coworking space for woodworkers is first of its kind in Philadelphia

The Delaware Valley's first coworking space for woodworkers opened earlier this month, and is already proving quite popular. Philadelphia Woodworks is a membership-based co-working arena and educational facility across from the Ivy Ridge train station on Umbria St. in Manayunk. According to Emily Duncan, the business manager at Woodworks, the facility already boasts twenty members, sixteen of which are certified in woodworking. Along with coworking, Duncan says classes are expected to begin in a few weeks.

Philadelphia Woodworks emphasizes that anyone can become a member, as long as they don't have an inordinate fear of splinters. The center is indeed welcoming to professionals and novices alike. "You can do it and we can help you," coaxes Duncan. This is one reason why the workshop will hold classes. Duncan continues by saying members and other people interested in woodworking can even suggest classes. Michael Vogel, who's the founder and president of Woodworks, also emphasizes that classes are run with their students' schedules in mind.  

The woodworker's paradise is concentrating on partnering with local businesses that work with wood. For example, Duncan gives a shout-out to Provenance Architectural Salvage in Northern Liberties, who she says will stock re-used materials. Vogel also points out that some classes will be affiliated with other relevant organizations, including the Center for Art in Wood and the Wharton-Esherick Museum in Valley Forge. The Independence Seaport Museum has even expressed interest in helping with education at Philadelphia Woodworks.

This "gym for woodworking," as Vogel puts it, has all of the latest woodworking tools throughout the 6,600-square foot facility. 4,500 of which are devoted to shop space, which includes professional industrial grade power and hand tools; milling machines that can smooth wood; sanding, shaping, and edging stations; dust collection; and air filters. In addition, the space comes equipped with Golden Boy, the shop manager's adorable pug, who can be found strutting around the shop. Finally, Duncan adds that there will be plentiful locker and cubby space for tool storage.

Vogel and Duncan both stress that the woodworking space is truly unique for Southeastern Pennsylvania. Duncan says the closest place of its kind is all the way down in Rockville, Md. The next closest is a long ride north in Connecticut. Because of this, Vogel chose the location because of its convenience to the entire region. "You can get from Cherry Hill to West Chester in a half hour [depending on traffic] because of our proximity to 76," he mentions. As Duncan points out, not only is it easily accessible by car, but it's also in propinquity to the Schuylkill River Bike Trail and the train.

To complement the shop, Philadelphia Woodworks also features a member's lounge, with a kitchen, TVs, and a "clubhouse atmosphere," says Duncan. There is also a lumberyard and sheetwood store on site. If you're interested in becoming a member, you'll want to act fast as space is filling up. There's currently no cap on the amount of members that can be accommodated, but Duncan and Vogel agree they'll eventually have to find one. 

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Sources: Michael Vogel, Emily Duncan, and Golden Boy the pug, Philadelphia Woodworks

Priorities for Germantown United CDC take shape, include business corridor and historic preservation

Germantown is a neighborhood that is characterized by the remnants of its past colliding with the challenges of its present. It is definitely one of the most famous historic sections of Philly, right behind Old City in the eyes of many. Yet, this storied history comes with the backdrop of crime, poverty, trash, and neighborhood division on many blocks. This neighborhood division has been manifested by the corrupt Germantown Settlement, which was a social service and community development agency that ran out of money, and a tiff over retail development on Chelten Avenue. 

It's why Germantown residents are even more motivated to redevelop and cultivate a sense of community. In fact, the Germantown United CDC (GUCDC) was formed toward the end of last year to reinstate transparency to the neighborhood. The CDC is currently in the process of selecting its Board, and serves the racially, economically, and religiously diverse area from Chew Ave. to the north, Wissahickon Ave. to the south, Wayne Junction Station to the east, and Johnson St. to the west. 

John Churchville, the president of GUCDC, is passionate about making a difference. "I'd have to say that our first priority is to establish our trustworthiness as an organization in Germantown," says a motivated Churchville. He says this means reaching out to local businesses, residents, civic associations, and developers. The president also detects a hardy sense of optimism among those who are interested in serving on GUCDC’s Board. 

Once GUCDC becomes more entrenched in the neighborhood, one of its priorities will be re-utilizing the historic Germantown Town Hall. Churchville says that the re-use of Town Hall will be a personal commitment of his. He wants to take advantage of the Civil War-era building’s location across from Germantown High School by turning it into a building of learning that will feature post-secondary level science, technology, and math and high-school level "green entrepreneur" training. The building is up for sale by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC)

Another GUCDC priority will be to clean up the Chelten and Germantown Ave. business corridors. The corridors form perpendicular Main Streets feature a diverse selection of small businesses, but are pockmarked by trash and other quality-of-life problems. The CDC has already held clean-ups along Chelten, and has proven its intimate concern with the avenue since its days speaking out against the new shopping center at Chelten and Pulaski. 

It’s not hard to guess that GUCDC sees Germantown’s history playing a vital role in the area’s future. Barbara Hogue, the executive director at Historic Germantown, is hoping to assist in this effort. She says her organization has submitted a grant application to the Pew Charitable Trust for "the interpretation of the enduring search for freedom in Germantown." If they receive the grant, Hogue foresees Historic Germantown working setting up pop-up exhibits at vacant storefronts and organizing lectures at local coffee shops in an event commemorating the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. 

GUCDC held a forum last week to examine CDC best practices in Philadelphia and New York and strategize ways to make a community like Germantown more livable. The forum was keynoted by Colvin Grannum, president of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. Other speakers were Econsult economist Steve Mullin, Rick Sauer with the Philadelphia Association of Economic Development Corporations, Historic Germantown’s Hogue, Sandy Salzman at New Kensington CDC, and Andy Frishkoff with Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Sources: John Churchville, Germantown United CDC and Barbara Hogue, Historic Germantown 

Photo courtesy of Dana Scherer

Master Plan for the Central Delaware earns top honor from AIA

The Master Plan for the Central Delaware is one of 27 projects to be honored with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award. The award recognizes excellence in architecture and urban design and is the profession's highest honor.

A news release cites the City of Philadelphia's plan for striking a "strong balance between urban design and economic reality, proposing both public and private development to transform and regenerate six miles of waterfront,"

Priority sites along Spring Garden Street, Penn's Landing and Washington are seeing work first. Phasing and funding of new parks, trails, transit and connections to existing neighborhoods were praised as a "practical implementation strategy."

Cooper Roberts & Partners led an impressive team in developing the plan, including KieranTimberlake, OLIN and H&R&A. The plan takes into account goals and objectives developed through extensive civic engagement led by PennPraxis, and the plan was adopted by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation last June.

Source: Laurie Heinerichs, DRWC
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Redevelopment riff: Brandywine Lofts approved for former Paul Green School of Rock

The Broad St. corridor between Spring Garden and Ridge has seen some of the trendiest redevelopment in the city in the past few years, with residential development at Lofts 640 and culinary development at Osteria. It looks like this redevelopment is about to rub off on surrounding blocks. The Regis Group has obtained necessary zoning approvals to convert the erstwhile Paul Green School of Rock into the Brandywine Lofts apartments. Construction is expected to begin shortly at 15th and Brandywine, and the apartments should be up in four to five months.

The design firm JKR Partners, which is also working on a number of other projects across the city including North 28 in Brewerytown and 777 S. Broad, is handling the design elements for the Brandywine Lofts. Glenn Felgoise, the director of marketing at JKR, says the lofts will include 10 apartments on the second and third floors of the old music school. Five of these apartments will be on the second floor, three will be on the third floor, and two will be on both floors.

Felgoise says the first floor will be marked by a parking garage, game room, kitchenette, and garden space for residents. He confirms that each apartment will have its own parking space, and there will also be storage for at least 18 bicycles. The units will be sized from 813 to 1,043 sq. ft., and will include one or two bedrooms and one or two baths. Eight of the apartments will be fitted with decks. No word on price points yet.   

One reason why JKR was chosen to work on Brandywine Lofts is because of its expertise in adaptive re-use. Indeed, the design firm will strive to preserve some of the historical elements of the structure, especially on the second floor. “Units at [the] rear of second floor have exposed heavy timber trusses in space,” he reports. JKR is looking to preserve these trusses.

Given the recent development proposals on North Broad, Brandywine Lofts is in a great location. According to Felgoise, the best perks of the location are access to the Broad Street subway line, the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), and other new and proposed developments on Broad. The proposed Lofts are only one block from N. Broad and two blocks from the Spring Garden subway station. In addition, it will also be just a one-block bike ride to get to the conceptual Spring Garden St. Greenway.    

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Glenn Felgoise, JKR Partners

Lovett Library bookmarked for Mt. Airy's next public space

2011 was the year for public space and parks in Philadelphia, with the opening of Penn Park, The Porch at 30th St. Station, and the Race St. Pier. Mt. Airy USA (MAUSA) is looking to bring that trend northwest for 2012. MAUSA, in conjunction with community groups and other stakeholders, has been studying what to do with the open space next to the Lovett Library for months. They have formulated a "conceptual plan" for an open, child-friendly performance space that will complement their efforts to transform Germantown Ave. into a more livable and walkable corridor.

The community made it clear during three public meetings that any outdoor area at Lovett should preserve the open space and support performances, according to Anuj Gupta, the Executive Director at MAUSA. Locals were also quite passionate about maintaining "the green orientation of this space," says Gupta. He says more trees will be planted, but the space as planned will function as an open amphitheater. MAUSA has reached out to the Curtis Institute of Music to see if they'd be interested in allowing their students to perform outside Lovett. 

Gupta says the proposed park will be tyke-friendly and sustainable, accommodating a story-time circle and nature play for young children. MAUSA may partner with a local arboretum on the nature play. Gupta hopes to better control the stormwater that flows off Lovett's roof through use of a rain garden. Along with the rain garden, native plant species will be used.

This public space proposal comes on the heels of a successful summer movie series on the grounds of the Lovett. Gupta brags that 130 to 150 people coalesced at the library during the course of the eight-week movie series. Trolley Car Diner provided concessions, and all movies were family-friendly. Gupta foresees the upcoming public space making this a tradition. 

A number of community and city groups have been involved in the planning for Mt. Airy's newest public space. The Community Design Collaborative (CDC) provided complimentary design services. The Free Library of Philadelphia has provided its support and assistance. East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN and WMAN) have both been intimately involved in the community engagement process. Even the local religious community hasn't been left out, as Gupta lauds the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement for being a partner.

MAUSA hopes that this public space jibes with corridor improvements along Germantown Ave. People should "have an incentive to walk from Cresheim Valley [Drive] to Washington Lane," says Gupta with hopeful inflection. He says there is currently little activity on the stretch of the Avenue around the library. Gupta also states that there is no designed park in Northwest Philadelphia, although he says Chestnut Hill's Pastorius Park comes close. He says Lovett can hold the area's first designed park. 

Anuj Gupta estimates that MAUSA's "final conceptual plan" will be ready for public consumption in May. He hopes to hold a ceremony replete with performances at Lovett's grounds to present the plan. While the community has been split on what to do with the space, it looks like MAUSA worked hard to run with the local consensus views. It might just be a few months until Mt. Airy proves that 2012 is the year of the public space in the Northwest.   

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Anuj Gupta, Mt. Airy USA

Mass transit focus can provide more value than I-95 removal, says city transportation leader

I-95 is one of the country’s most prolific highways, running between Maine and Florida. For the most part the highway runs uninterrupted, except for a small gap in the Trenton, NJ-area. With this in mind, a movement to remove the highway from the Delaware River waterfront landscape between the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman Bridges is gaining steam. The idea of reclaiming the city’s waterfront by removing the highway, or merely burying it, was discussed at the Re-Imagining Urban Highways forum last week at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Speakers at Re-Imagining Urban Highways came from across the country, and represented the municipal, academic, and journalistic spheres. They include Aaron Naparstek of the transportation planning website StreetsBlog, Peter Park of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Thomas Deller of Providence, RI’s Department of Planning and Development, and Ashwan Balakrishnan with the South Bronx River Watershed Alliance. They discussed successful and current efforts to remove urban highways around the world, and the realized and potential benefits of removal.  

The final two speakers were Diana Lind, the editor in chief of Next American City, and Andrew Stober, the Chief of Staff for Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, both of whom gave a local perspective. Lind was the chief proponent of creating a dialogue about removing or burying I-95, as she cited other highways and arterials that motorists could detour on to avoid the highway. Unfortunately, some of these highways are as far away as South Jersey and the western suburbs. Lind revealed that she’ll be circulating a petition to PennDOT in favor of altering I-95 this week.  

As one of the most influential people in Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, Stober had one of the evening's more interesting points of view. While willing to discuss the merits of burying or removing I-95, he concentrated on other improvements that could be made to the city and region’s transportation network. Stober’s main focus was on mass transit, which he called “an incredible endowment from previous generations.” He showcased the city’s proposals for Columbus Blvd., which include a light-rail line running down the median.

Stober preferred to concentrate on transit access because it “gives us more bang for the buck than dealing with the highway.” The chief of staff also lamented the unwillingness of some state and federal lawmakers to fund transportation and infrastructure, given that it’s not a glamorous topic for many voters. He cited the multitude of constituent feedback to puppy mill legislation, and compared it to the relative silence from voters on transportation legislation. Apparently, bridges and trains will never be as cute as pug and Labrador puppies.   

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Andrew Stober, Philadelphia Office of Transportation and Utilities

Seventeen projects among Preservation Alliance award winners

Old theaters, churches, bridgs historic sites and cemeteries were among those earning 2012 Preservation Achievement Awards from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

The Preservation Alliance will present its Grand Jury Awards to 17 regional restoration and revitalization projects at its 19th annual Preservation Achievement Awards luncheon on May 8 at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building.

Danilo Vicencio of Vicencio Architects had two projects earn awards, including a property at 1824 Diamond Street and another North Philly project with Power House Development, Inc., at 431 N. 39th Street.

Also, the James Biddle Award, one of the Special Recognition Awards recognizing lifetime achievement in historic preservation, will go to West Chester University Professor Emeritus of History and American Studies Richard J. Webster. The distinguished teacher and author's books inlucde Philadelphia Preserved: The Catalog of the Historic American Buildings Survey.

"The range of award winners this year demonstrates the important role that historic preservation has in the economy of the Philadelphia region and the revitalization of neighborhoods," says Preservation Alliance Executive Director John Andrew Gallery in a news release.

Here's a full list of award winners:

(project, address, owner, architect)

1824 Diamond Street
1824 Diamond Street, Philadelphia
Power House Development, Incorporated
Danilo Vicencio
2307 St. Albans Place
2307 St. Albans Place, Philadelphia
F. Scott Donahue
David S. Traub & Associates

431 N. 39th Street Triplex
431 N. 39th Street, Philadelphia
Power House Development, Incorporated
Danilo Vicencio

Arch Street United Methodist Church Window
55 North Broad Street, Philadelphia
Arch Street United Methodist Church
Atkin Olshin Schade Architects

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul
18th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Curtis Institute of Music Lenfest Hall
1616 Locust Street, Philadelphia
Curtis Institute of Music
Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc.

George A. Weiss Pavilion at Franklin Field
233 S. 33rd Street, Philadelphia
University of Pennsylvania
Crawford Architects

Independence Hall Tower
Independence Square, Philadelphia
City of Philadelphia
Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype, Inc.

Mariposa Food Co-op - Belmont Trust Company Building
4824 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia
Mariposa Food Co-op
Re:Vision Architecture

Medallion Garden
3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia
Laurel Hill Cemetery
KSK Architects Planners Historians, Inc.

PennDOT District 6-0 Bridge Rehabilitations
Cope's Bridge Strasburg Road (SR 0162) over Branch of Brandywine Creek
Hares Hill Bridge Hares Hill Road (SR 1045) over French Creek
Henry Avenue Bridge Henry Avenue (SR 4001) over Wissahickon Creek Lincoln Dr.
Rapps Dam Covered Bridge Rapps Dam Road (SR 1049) over French Creek

Saint Francis de Sales Church
4625 Springfield Avenue, Philadelphia
Saint Francis de Sales Parish
Historic Building Architects, LLC

Shane Candies
110 Market Street, Philadelphia
Franklin Fountain LLC
Owners Re

Smithville Park Houses
8 & 9 Park Avenue and 34 Maple Avenue, Eastampton, NJ
Burlington County, Department of Resource
Conservation, Division of Parks
Wu & Associates, Inc.

Termini Brothers Bakery
1523 S. 8th Street, Philadelphia
Termini Brothers Bakery
Materials Conservation Collaborative, LLC

West Chester University Recitation Hall
35 West Rosedale Avenue, West Chester
West Chester University of Pennsylvania of the State System of Higher Education, Facilities
Design and Construction Department
Klein and Hoffman, Inc.

World Cafe Live at the Queen Theater
500 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE
Buccini/Pollin Group
Homsey Architects

for lifetime achievement in historic preservation
Richard J. Webster, PhD

for preservation in the public interest
The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

for service to the Preservation Alliance
Architectural Walking Tour volunteer guides

for exceptional contributions to historic preservation
Ruth and Mansfield Bascom

for achievement by community organizations
Friends of Mt. Moriah Cemetery  For efforts to maintain and improve Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Strawberry Mansion CDC and Strawberry Mansion NAC  For successful efforts to retain the historic character of the Strawberry Mansion trolley barn

Bucks County Historical Society  On the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Henry Mercer’s home, Fonthill

2012 AIA Philadelphia Landmark Building Award
Vanna Venturi House, Venturi and Rauch, 1962

The Henry J. Magaziner EFAIA Award
To be announced

Kensington Renewal: Home ownership can lift one of city's roughest neighborhoods, says filmmaker

For years, the neighborhood around Kensington and Allegheny (K&A) has been pockmarked by drugs, vacant property, and homelessness. That has not deterred local filmmaker Jamie Moffett, who’s spearheading an effort to transform vacant properties into owner-occupied homes. Moffett is the pioneer behind Kensington Renewal, which is looking to raise enough money to begin its home ownership mission.

According to Moffett, Kensington Renewal has already identified its first property to resuscitate. "There's an 'abandominium' on Rand St we're ready to purchase & rehab," says Moffett with a glint of pride. This part of Rand St. is mere blocks away from Potter Street, where the producer spent seven years spent living and he currently owns an office across the street from. These blocks are the heart and soul of Kensington, just a short jaunt from the Allegheny El stop.

Kensington Renewal’s biggest priority is raising money to start its campaign of putting Kensington residents into houses. To do this, Moffett is actively seeking donations and selling t-shirts. Moffett calls this "crowdfunding" a house, and is actively using the Internet to raise money. He offers supporters the chance to donate using Helpers Unite and through PayPal on his own website. Also, the filmmaker has partnered with the arts non-profit Positive Space to generate money through film, photography, and gallery showings. 

Moffett is beyond passionate about the transformative effects home ownership could have on Kensington. "Home ownership correlates with crime statistics; the higher the home ownership, the lower the crime," he says, citing a University of Nebraska study. He explains that this is because homeowners are more financially and socially invested in maintaining their properties and neighborhoods.  

The filmmaker’s target market for home ownership is Kensington residents who’ve never previously owned a home. These are locals who Moffett believes have been victimized by slumlords, who let profit get in the way of maintaining rental properties. He’s also taking a stand against redlining, which has caused banks and mortgage companies to flee the area. Finally, he hopes to educate the Kensington citizenry about the responsibilities associated with home ownership. 

The mission to encourage home ownership in Kensington has received support from other community groups and government officials. Moffett commends the New Kensington CDC (NKCDC) and Impact Services for imparting information to the campaign. He also points out the district Councilwoman, Maria Quinones Sanchez, as well as the 24th District police and L&I have expressed support for Kensington Renewal.    

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Jamie Moffett, Kensington Renewal

Photo: Jamie Moffett

Baltimore Ave. redevelopment looks westward with Apple Lofts

The Baltimore Avenue corridor in West Philly supports a distinct mix of long-time residents and culturally- and technologically-savvy newcomers like few other corridors in the city. This will be solidified if the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) approves the construction of Apple Lofts, a proposed apartment building at the forsaken Apple Storage complex at 52nd and Willows Ave. 

Andrew Eisenstein, a managing partner at Iron-Stone Strategic Capital Partners, is hoping to build 112 studio and one and two-bedroom apartments at the former storage facility. The development would be supported by 1,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor, which Eisenstein says could offer food retail or a daycare center, among other possible uses. Parking for 94 vehicles would be included. Iron-Stone is still waiting for the ZBA to decide on whether or not to grant a variance for the development. 

Iron-Stone is enthusiastic about the proposed addition of Apple Lofts. "It's a really innovative project near growing businesses," touts Eisenstein. He adds that it would be the only high-rise building in the neighborhood, and would unfurl wonderful views of the Center and University City skyline. Eisenstein also draws attention to the building's location, which is convenient to the Baltimore Ave. and 52nd St. business strips, and the Route 34 trolley

According to Eisenstein, Apple Lofts enjoys the support of Cedar Park Neighbors and Walnut Hill Community Association. To be fair, some neighbors have concerns that this redevelopment could drive taxes up, which is often an anxiety in up-and-coming sections of Philadelphia. If approved, the apartments will be competitively priced, with studios going for $800, one-bedroom units being offered for $1,100, and two-bedroom apartments renting for $1,400. 

The Apple Storage structure is unique for how it was built. Eisenstein says that the building was constructed entirely out of brick and concrete so it could withstand fire. Iron-Stone hopes to begin construction in three or four months, depending on how the ZBA rules. Hopefully Apple Lofts can continue the trend of bringing in new residents without displacing existing ones a little west on Baltimore Ave.  

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Andrew Eisenstein, Iron-Stone Strategic Capital Partners

Olive Townhomes will offer a taste of LEED next to the Italian Market

If you’ve savored some French cuisine at Bibou, inhaled some hot chocolate at Rim Café, or purchased a wedge of cheese from DiBruno Brothers, you know that South Philly’s Italian Market is a delicious neighborhood.

How would you like to live next to the Italian Market? In fact, you might be able to find a sustainable townhouse in the Italian Market neighborhood later this year, as CITYSPACE Realty is selling four soon-to-be-built sustainable townhomes.

Rachel Reilly, a listing agent for CITYSPACE, anticipates construction to begin on the Olive Townhomes in four to six weeks. As has been the trend with some new residential construction in Philadelphia, the townhomes will be built using modular construction. “Since these homes are modular instead of stick-built, the first phase of construction begins in a controlled warehouse setting, and then the boxes are delivered and stacked on site,” explains Reilly. She says that the construction period will last for four months, with construction of the final three units hinging on how quickly they go off the market.

One of the most notable features of Olive Townhomes will be its minimal footprint on the environment. Reilly makes it clear that she expects the townhomes to be certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold, which is the second highest LEED certification possible. According to the agent, the development will be the first LEED Gold multi-unit complex in Bella Vista. The environmentally friendly features that are planned include Energy Star appliances, bamboo flooring, low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, and roofs that can accommodate solar panels. 

Reilly adds that the location itself, on the 800-block of Carpenter St., is sustainable because of its walkability and access to mass transit. “It's steps to a slew of great restaurants (many of the BYOs), the Italian Market, great coffee shops, boutiques, and public transportation,” she exclaims. In addition it’s a manageable walk to and from Passyunk Avenue shops. Nearby mass transit options include the Routes 23, 47, and 47M buses, along with the Broad Street Subway. 

The three biggest townhomes will be 2,690 square feet apiece, each containing 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths. Each townhome will include four stories, with an outdoor patio, large windows, and the option of adding a fireplace. The fourth townhome will be 2,540 sq. ft., with a basement, deck, and fireplace. The four townhomes will surround a lush outdoor courtyard. Single-car parking will be on-site for two of the residences, while the other two townhomes will have parking at a lot a block away. CITYSPACE’s Rachel Reilly is listing the property along with Sarah Robertson. 

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Rachel Reilly, CITYSPACE Realty
372 neighborhood innovation Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts