Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Photo Set: Pier 53 Plans Revealed at EcoFest

The future of Pier 53/Washington Avenue Green was revealed last Saturday at EcoFest. It's an ambitious and exciting plan to transform the Pennsport waterfront from neglected property to an ecological wonder-trail for generations to enjoy.

Here is a photo set of some of the renderings as well as the goings-on at EcoFest.

Big thanks to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation for providing the photos.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Washington Avenue Green: The Beginning of Something Big

You're going to want to hit up EcoFest - via

EcoFest will be held this Saturday, April 27th  from 8am to 12pm at Washington Avenue Green. Trust me, if you have any interest in the future of the Delaware River as it pertains to Pennsport, you're going to want to be in attendance.

As PlanPhilly announced today, the plans to transform Pier 53 (Washington Avenue Green) will be unveiled during the festivities at EcoFest. It's anticipated the plans will look to fuse the current landscape with the ability to "touch the water" as well its rich history of immigration, being known as the "Ellis Island of Philadelphia."

This is exciting news all around. However, the plan doesn't end with Washington Avenue Green. It's just the beginning.

Joe Forkin, Vice President of Operations and Development of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), foreshadowed this project at the Pennsport Civic General Membership Meeting on April 10th. One of the main elements he was excited about was the accessibility to the water as well as the wetlands that have developed along this stretch of the river down to Pier 70 - which is the beginnings of looking towards a native wildlife/vegetation focused river trail.

If realized, this would potentially give Pennsport the go-to spot for water recreation and enjoyment along the Delaware River. Dare I say, it could provide a more Schuylkill River-like experience.

Forkin explained that the DRWC is actively looking to acquire the piers stretching from Washington Avenue at Pier 53 down to Pier 70 around the Walmart area - with Piers 68 and 70 already acquired. This would allow for the DRWC to create a substantial trail that incorporated the wetlands as well as the ecosystem that is already in place.

Pier 68 is a cornerstone to this future project as it has been deemed structurally solid out to about 350 ft - meaning more access to the river. It would be the bookend to Washington Avenue Green. While the DRWC is still readying a grant to repair Pier 68 - they're still figuring out the best use for it.

Much like Washington Avenue Green, the hope is to design Pier 68 with the ecosystem and wetlands in mind. So no, it won't be Race St. Pier v2.0. Instead, there has been some ideas to use it for what it is currently (albeit illegally) being used for now - a partial fishing station and a tug boat dock. That's certainly not set in stone but gives you an indication that the DRWC is serious about maintaining the current environment as well as listening to suggestions for the future development of Delaware River.

Pennsport could see serious river access in the future
Much like with the project at Race Street Pier - development of connector streets for ease of access via the neighborhood is also in the planning phase. The streets being targeted are Washington Avenue, Reed/Dickinson St, and Tasker Street. An interesting tidbit was the mention of Swanson Street becoming a possible North/South connector street for the West to East running McKean Street.

In short - you're going to want to hit up EcoFest on Saturday. This unveiling is exciting for Pennsport as well as the Delaware River. The future realization of this trail could give the people of Pennsport (and Philadelphia) direct access to the Delaware River in an environment true to its beautiful surroundings.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Development in "No Man's Land"

Blight: An all too familiar sight in "No Man's Land" (via Google Maps)

There is an interesting pocket of the South Philly nestled between Pennsport and Passyunk Avenue. Visit Philly may call it Pennsport, but in all actuality, it isn't - making it more of a "no man's land" when it comes to civic affiliation as well as residential and commercial development.

That could soon be changing, at least on the development end of things. A new (read: enormous) project is taking shape on the corner of 7th and McKean Streets. See that rundown building at the photo of this post? Well, take a look at it now.

New Development on 7th and McKean St.

From the looks of the reports from L&I, this place is going to be split in to multiple apartments from the basement on up. The new first floor brick facade and yellow windows give this corner a clean and attention grabbing bookend that will hopefully spur development, be it residential or commercial, in the surrounding area. The numerous abandoned lots and houses on McKean Street alone makes you think that there is the potential to develop a linking corridor from Pennsport all the way up to Passyunk Avenue.

One thing is for sure, it's a welcome sight to the neighborhood and could be a sign that things are starting to turn around.

On a related note - The Sino American Buddhist Temple is a half block north on 7th and Hoffman. Here's a picture because, let's face it, it's awesome looking and is another example of the progress on this stretch of 7th Street.

Not Your Typical South Philly House Guardians
A heads up from our bud Albert Stumm, of Passyunk Post fame:
Here’s one issue with this project, though. It’s not clear on city records how many apartments are getting crammed into the building. Permits for 1939 S. 7th St. say they plan to install six full bathrooms into the building’s 4,200 square feet. 
And there’s no civic association that covers the area — Pennsport stops at 4th Street, EPX at 8th and Dickinson Square West only goes as far as Mifflin. So there’s no one to make sure that development doesn’t go all willy-nilly around there.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Comcast Cares Day is Coming to Furness High School

Comcast Cares Day at Furness High School via

Pennsport's lone remaining active school will be getting some much needed help from media-giant Comcast. This Saturday, April 27th from 8am to 2pm, is the 12th annual Comcast Cares Day and Furness High School is one of Philadelphia's main projects.

Horace Howard Furness High School has seen some better days. While institution is doing just fine and continues to serve students from the surrounding areas - the building has certainly seen better days. Comcast is coming in to help perk things up.

Along with removing the litter in and around the property, Comcast will be bringing "more than 250" employees (and possibly a member of the Philadelphia Eagles) to help beautify the property by painting as well as making minor repairs.

The project is being run by the Asian Pacific Americans (APA) at Comcast - who are proud of the schools international student body:
The school's principal, Daniel Peou, a first-generation Cambodian American, was once a student himself at Furness and is now working hard to build an "international school" that will propel his students into higher education and thriving careers. The school's population is currently about 50% Asian American.
This is great news for Furness High School as well as Pennsport. The massive structure stands out as a true landmark for Pennsport and should be showcased as an area of neighborhood pride. Sadly, that isn't always the case.

It's incredible to see the amount of litter around the building on some days - most notably broken beer bottles. As many areas of the city are finding out - a school is an asset to its surrounding area and not to be taken for granted.

Kudos to Comcast for helping to beautify one of the treasures of our neighborhood and bringing awareness to one of Pennsport's unsung historic landmarks.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pennsport Featured in GPTMC's "Neighborhoods" Campaign

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (you know them as GPTMC or Visit Philly) revealed a cool campaign recently. Instead of taking the usual photos and write ups of Independence Mall and Rittenhouse Square, GPTMC has chosen to feature the players that make this city a truly amazing place to live - its neighborhoods. Well, take a guess who made the list?

That's right - Pennsport!

It's not simply a write up, either. Visit Philly compiled a rather robust list of food, attractions, nightlife, shopping, and events and created a dedicated site to the home of Two Street - and it's gorgeous.

This site is a big deal for Pennsport. As you may already know, our 'hood is gaining a lot of interest recently. Multiple large housing development projects are in the works and local business are realizing that Pennsport is a viable (and cool) place to open up shop. A campaign like this only validates and furthers the progress seen in a neighborhood with so much untapped potential.

Pennsport is described as "a network of quiet, safe streets...where a growing number of restauranteurs and shop owners are breathing new energy in to the area, helping expand the neighborhood's already robust identity."

It's amazing all around (we'll even forgive the "loose" neighborhood boundaries). Seriously, dig through the site and share it with others to show your pride in good old Pennsport.

Be on the look out for more Pennsport content via Instagram. VisitPhilly has been featuring a "Guest Instagrammer" with neighborhood ties to portray a unique look in to their 'hood.

Also, don't be afraid to share your thoughts in the comments, on twitter, on in email. Let's keep this Visit Philly conversation going as long as possible.

Spring Cleaning at Manton Street Park & Community Garden

Cleanin' Up on May 5th

Spring is in full effect and that means one thing - cleaning! Pennsport is fortunate enough to have it's fair share of beautiful green space and one that has been creating a bit of buzz recently is Manton Street Park and Community Garden (like 'em here).

Although relatively new and still in development, it's been featured in Visit Philly's recent "neighborhoods" campaign aimed at getting locals and visitors alike to branch out (more on this campaign soon.) It's great to see some of the "Pocket Parks" in Pennsport get some pub.

In one the coolest neighborhood cleanings collabs, Dickinson Square West is teaming up with Queen Village Neighborhood Association, Bella Vista Town Watch, and Passyunk Square Civic Association to have a "Four Corner Clean Up" at the corner of 6th and Washington.

The main goal is to "green and clean" this shared corner and the clean up will take place on May 5th - so be there or be square!

While the Philly Spring Cleanup (which took place on April 13th at area parks) campaign has been successful and certainly welcomed in all neighborhoods, it's important to extend the idea of neighborhood pride, cleanliness, and investment throughout the year.

It's been well documented that green (and clean) space keeps the neighborhood safe but it also reinvigorates the surrounding community. Besides, they're far better to look at than a trash-strewn vacant lot.

So, do yourself and your neighborhood a favor, show up at 6th and Washington on May 5th and get your clean on.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Street Level: Fire at 4th & Watkins


These pictures are of the fire that broke out on April 8th around the Fourth and Watkins Street area - just days after the fire in Queen Village that claimed the life of Captain Michael Goodwin.

Thankfully, while the pictures provide an unnerving view, everyone was reported to be okay.

Special shout out to @mistertug - who provided these pictures.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Quick Hits: April General Membership Meeting

There was a general membership meeting at the EOM that covered a variety of topics concerning the neighborhood.

Here are some quick highlights of some of the recent neighborhood developments.

Two Street Warehouse Fire:
As you may already be aware, the large warehouse containing and illegal auto shop and Mummer regalia that burned down will be turned in to 11 town homes. The meeting tonight briefly covered the progress of the project. While no renderings were shown, board members mentioned that the neighbors were "satisfied" with the proposal and that there will be more to come in the near future. 
Saint John's Demolition, 3rd and Reed St:
While the demo permit has been granted, the plans for future condos has not yet been approved. Developers are in the process petitioning the neighbors, although a woman in attendance mentioned that neighbors on Earp and 3rd Sts. have not all been notified. It's in "proposal phase" as of now but the building itself has been sold to developers.
Sacred Heart Officially Becoming Christopher Columbus:
The meeting also revealed that the old Sacred Heart School is indeed set to become Christopher Columbus School. Rosemary Dougherty, Chief Executive of Christopher Columbus, mentioned at the time of the initial announcement that they would be "adding to the school." It would have to be a quick turn around as the board mentioned that the school will be ready this coming September.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Motorcycle Run Pays Tribute To Captain Michael Goodwin


Hundreds of motorcycles descended on Pennsport tonight in tribute to the late Captain Michael Goodwin. The run, which started on Aramingo Avenue, ended at Captain Goodwin's home firehouse - Engine 53, Ladder 27 on Snyder Avenue.

It was a touching scene and one that saw people hang out of their windows and step out on to their rooftops to get a look and pay their respects.

Both police and news helicopters were in the air and combined with the massive lines of motorcycles to create quite a buzz in the sleepy side of Pennsport.

A truly awesome scene for a man who gave his life in the line of duty.

Please consider donating to Firefighter's Widow Fund in the memory of Captain Michael Goodwin. Also, the Queen Village Neighborhood Association has also set up a Fabric Row Relief Fund for those displaced by the fire.

4th and Snyder Ave - Engine 53, Ladder 27

Police make space for the motorcycles

Hundreds of motorcycles flow up Snyder Ave.

People hang on the fire escape to pay tribute

Overflow on to Moyamensing Ave.

Onlookers on the roof

Lines of parked motorcycles on Moyamensing Ave

Sunday, April 7, 2013

UPDATE: Parking Wars: Pennsport

UPDATE: All but one of the signs have been taken down. Pennsport Civic Association was unsure as to why they were posted and mentioned that the school may be holding a "cultures fair" in the lot this week.

Recently, the closure of the lot underneath I-95 has put parking at the forefront in Pennsport. What was once a relative non-issue is fast becoming a topic of conversation. Although the lot between Mifflin and McKean Sts. isn't closed just yet, parking situation in the immediate area won't be getting any better.

The sign below is posted on all of the fences surrounding the large parking lot at Furness High School - just three blocks from the lot underneath I-95.

While this closure is only temporary in comparison, it will still make for a head ache for those in this part of the neighborhood who utilize the lot after school hours.

We are still awaiting word as to why this lot will be closed this week and, as always, we'll keep you posted on any updates we receive.

Got a tip? Send it over to @pennsporter on twitter or pennsporter [at] gmail.com.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

La Salon To Become Housing

The building that formerly housed La Salon on 2nd and McClennan Street is going to be turned in to housing.

View Larger Map

According to the Zoning Notice, the building will be turned in "four family dwelling" and the hearing is set for April 24, 2013 at 5pm.

Zoning Notice Posted on Former La Salon

While it's nice to see a vacant business turned in to something useful, it does seems like a missed commercial opportunity on Two Street. With Pennsport is rapidly expanding it's residential profile, it's time to start developing small, locally owned/operated business to service the needs of the growing community.

As always, we'll keep you posted as new details arise.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I-95 Parking Update

Lot North of Mifflin, Work Being Done (right)

Here is a quick update regarding the parking situation for parking underneath I-95. As you may already know, as of April 1st the lots between Mifflin and McKean Sts. underneath I-95 are supposed to be closed

I posed the question of whether Philly Police would possibly open up the large lot north of Mifflin Street to temporarily replace the spaces lost to the closure of the lots south.

Pennsport Civic was kind enough to look in to the situation:

I did ask ILMAC (they are who manages the parcels under I-95) about opening that parcel - the problem being that there is only one entrance/exit for that lot - they do open during a snow emergency for us - but they really do not like to open that parcel for that reason.  I will let the community know if they decide to open. 

I was in the area today - those lots are not fully closed and, although work is scheduled for the southern lots according to Pennsport Civic, work was being done on the lot north of Mifflin St. There are still a lot of cars parked in the lots that are to be closed. 

While they apparently aren't closed yet, it would probably be a smart idea to move your vehicle out of the southern lots in the near future.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Yo Pennsport, L&I Needs Your Number!

L&I needs a number on your building via Etsy

An interesting tidbit came across the Facebook page of the Pennsport Civic Association last Thursday. In case you missed it - this statement was attached to the trash and recycling announcement:

"We have been informed by several residents over the past week that they have received violations from L&I for not having address plates on the front of their homes, it states:
The subject building lacks approved address identification. Buildings shall have approved address numbers, building numbers or approved building identification placed in a position that is plainly legible and visible from the street or road fronting the property. These numbers shall contrast with their background. Address numbers shall be Arabic numbers or alphabet numbers. Numbers shall be a minimum of 4 inches high with a minimum stroke width of 0.5 inch."

It's an interesting situation. There are obvious safety concerns when it comes to identifying a house be it for law enforcement, the fire department, or emergency care units. Most places in Pennsport have numbers on the front of their building or the number painted on the curb. I have never heard of L&I issuing a violation for such an offense before today.

A follow up was posted later in the day that stated things had been cleared up:

"Thanks you to Councilman at Large Jim Kenney and Rick Lazer for their quick action in prompting L&I to agree to stop issuing violations for "No Address" markers on residences."

Councilman at Large Jim Kenney was kind enough to shed some insight on the situation:

You can find him on Twitter @JimFKenney

In the meantime, get some numbers on your building and avoid any unnecessary action from the powers that be.

(h/t to Passyunk Post, Regina Medina, Pennsport Civic Association, and Councilman at Large Jim Kenney)