Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ball of Confusion: AAA Presents Plan for Auto-Centric Development Along the Delaware River

A community meeting was held Tuesday night in Pennsport to discuss the Plan of Development regarding the AAA project located at 1601 S. Columbus Boulevard, the corner of Columbus Boulevard and Tasker Street. Representatives from the Pennsport Civic Association, the DRWC, and concerned neighbors were on hand as representatives from AAA presented their case.

AAA will present their final Plan of Development before the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on May 20th - where they will take action in either approving or disapproving AAA's plan.
Representatives from AAA go over the project at 1601 S. Columbus Boulevard, Brad Murr (L) and Andrew DeFonzo (R)
Here are some of the key points the emerged from the meeting:

1) It's not AAA, it's the location of the site and use of the project

Dr. James Moylan, President of the Pennsport Civic Association prefaced the entire meeting by stating that he loves AAA and would love to have them become part of the neighborhood. "AAA is not the issue here at all," he said. One of the main points of opposition in this instance comes from the use of the site as an auto-repair center along the Delaware River.

Later on, during the question and answer session, Dr. Moylan expressed concern about the possible precedent set by allowing such an auto-oriented development along the riverfront. He mentioned the fact that AAA, for all their good intentions for the location, could decide to move the business, potentially opening up the space for another auto related business to move in due to the now allowed land use. "If this should come to fruition," said Moylan. "You guys can all go home -- we have to live with it."

Carl Primavera, Attorney for the AAA project, explained that this is along term lease and that AAA thinks this market (mid-level auto service) is going to grow. The project is not meant to be a "short-term thing" for AAA.

Multiple neighbors also expressed their affinity for AAA, one woman going so far as to say that they've "saved my ass" more than once. However, they too disagreed with the location of this project while offering up ideas on alternative locations in Pennsport and Whitman.

Rene Goodwin, who is a board member of the Pennsport Civic Association, was concerned that due diligence wasn't met throughout the process and wanted to protect commercial viability riverfront development. "This is not a tree-hugger thing," said Goodwin while pointing out the potential economic impact of the plan to cap I-95 at Penn's Landing. She went on to note that this plan is "absolutely contrary" to the goals of making development along the Delaware River more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and less auto-centric.

Neighbors expressed their interests in simply getting it right with regards to waterfront development, citing false promises, failed projects and even lamenting the ones that are currently in place - including strip clubs, large swaths of parking lots, and even a "waterfront Walmart."

2) "Procedural miscue" fuels confusion over how permits were issued in the first place
[Editor's note: I would highly recommend you read this article from PlanPhilly and watch the video at the end. It's AAA's first Plan of Development presentation to the Planning Commission and will give you a better idea of the entire process.]

The original AAA plan was submitted for approval during a temporary version of the Central Delaware River Overlay which allowed the auto repair land use but required a Plan of Development to be presented to the Planning Commission. After approval, AAA made revisions to the plan to make it a more urban experience. However, these revisions were submitted under the current Central Delaware River Overlay, which doesn't allow for auto repair as a land use but also didn't require a Plan of Development to be submitted.

Because permits were granted under the temporary version of the overlay, it is subject to those rules and regulations. Therefore, a Plan of Development was needed after all.

How did it happen? Carl Primavera mentioned that it was a "procedural miscue" on the part of L&I that caused the confusion and apologized that AAA did not get involved [in the outreach] earlier on in the process. He also noted that the permit is good (due to the temporary overlay being in affect at the time) but that the procedure is the issue. That is why AAA met with the Planning Commission earlier in April, the Pennsport Civic Association on Tuesday, and will meet with the Planning Commission again on May 20th.

3) A more "urban" AAA experience

Brad Murr, representative of AAA, went on to explain the thought process behind such a project at a key point of access along the river. He pointed to AAA's experience and popularity within the Philadelphia market (noting that AAA Mid Atlantic used to be headquartered in Philadelphia) and that AAA noticed a "large gap" between large auto-service providers and everyone else. He noted that while most people tend to get work on their car as a reaction to something happening to it (flat tire, body work, etc), AAA auto centers typically serve about "20 customers a week" and it's usually maintenance based work. "We are not in the quick oil change business...we do not do body or fenders."

Overview of the AAA project
As for as the project itself, the idea is to have customers drive their car to the lot and have an employee of AAA move the car in to the service center via a single auto bay on the east side of the lot near Tasker Street. From there, work will be done inside the building and the car would be driven out of one of the five bays on the south side of the building in to the main parking lot. The customer would then exit the premises on the curb cut located on the west side of the building on to Columbus Boulevard.

Tasker Street will have large windows that look like auto bays. They will be "non-operational" and offer "no vehicular access" according to Murr.

The plans were updated to move the structure to the corner of the lot and also includes new landscaping.


AAA will present their final Plan of Development before the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on May 20th - where they will take action in either approving or disapproving AAA's plan.

Pub On Wolf Coming to Whitman

Pub On Wolf, a new bar/restaurant on the corner of Front and Wolf Sts., is currently under construction and looks to be about a month away from opening, according to owner Ronan Daly.

You will soon venture in to Whitman to visit Pub On Wolf
Daly mentioned that they're looking to do something a little different than what is typically seen in Whitman. Citing the fact that neighbors generally have to head to Pennsport or Queen Village to grab a bite to eat, Daly will look to transform the former Noc's Bar into an experience similar to that of nearby pubs like The Industry, Moonshine, and For Pete's Sake.

So yes, there will be food.

While there are no specifics for the drink or food menu, crews have been working on the interior since early March and are currently in the process of restoring the large original bar. The pub will also feature high-top tables on the inside with a pool table and dart board in the back area. After a brief tour of the construction, the place is certainly larger than I expected and the bar is certainly going to be the centerpiece of the interior.

For me, it was most promising to hear that the drab exterior will be spruced up with a new corner awning and a hand-painted logo on the above concrete facade -- something Daly seemed particularly proud of as he designed the Pub On Wolf logo himself. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Take a look at the official bike of the new Philly Bike Share program

As you know, we're huge proponents of alternative modes of transportation here at Pennsporter. What makes Philly such an amazing city to live in and visit is the fact that it's easily walkable, bikeable, and mass transit-able.

Mayor Nutter rides a sample bike back in 2008 (via)

Well, traveling around Philly is about to get easier as the Philly Bike Share program is one step closer to realization as Mayor Nutter announced today that a 60 station, 600 bike sharing service will be implemented by Spring of 2015.

Also, the official bicycles were on hand at the announcement. Take a look:

In his article for Next City, Jon Geeting explains:

Philly has the highest rate of bike commuting of the 10 largest U.S. cities, with bicycle mode share twice as high as that of the next-best city, Chicago. Neighborhoods in Center City and South Philly are in the same league as all-stars like Portland and Minneapolis for bicycle ridership. With bike share allegedly rolling out next year, and car share networks gaining popularity, it’s only going to get easier and more convenient to live car-free.
And so, we ask you again -- would you use Philly Bike Share to get around town when it is implemented next spring?

Would you like to see a station (or two) in Pennsport? If so, where and if not, why the heck not?

Drop us a line in the comments, on Faceboor of the Twitter with your thoughts on Philly Bike Share.

Resurrect Dead: Toynbee Q&A at Whitman Library April 28th

The Whitman Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is holding a cool event entitled "History of Toynbee Tiles" on Monday, April 28th. Starting at 6pm, the event will feature Writer/Researcher Colin Smith and Associate Producer/Researcher Steve Weinik of the award winning documentary "Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles."

Toynbee Tiles, described as "unauthorized, relentless, cryptic, and uniquely Philadelphia street-art" on the event's page, started mysteriously popping up in the 1980s and became an obsession for one man in particular. His name is Justin Duerr and the documentary follows his chase to uncover the meaning, and person, behind the Toynbee Tiles.

When asked to comment on Toynbee's influence, renown artist Joe Boruchow had some high praise to share:

This is a must see event if you're in to the Philly street art seen or like a good mystery. Chances are pretty darn good you've come across one of these tiles in your morning commute, as they are all over the city and easily missed throughout the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Here's a great interactive map that pinpoints the location of all known Toynbee Tiles in Philadelphia. Click on the map to see a picture and coordinates of each tile.

View Philadelphia Toynbee Tiles in a larger map

Check out the trailer below:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

AAA Makes Its Case for Riverfront Auto Repair, Community Meeting Scheduled for April 29th

Last week, AAA presented its plan to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission to transform the now-cleared parcel of land on the southeast corner of Tasker Street and Columbus Boulevard into an auto-centric repair facility with a retail component. The issue at hand is whether or not a facility primarily used for services cars would be the best use for a prime, undeveloped stretch of land that would run alongside the future Tasker Street Connector, a key point of access to the Delaware River Trail for neighbors and visitors alike.

Columbus Boulevard at Tasker Street from back in November 2013. The AAA proposal would be on the right

Officials and civic groups argue that the plan is not inline with the Central Delaware River Master Plan and the Central Delaware Overlay, which prohibits auto-centric development points east of Columbus Boulevard. According to Kellie Patrick Gates of PlanPhilly:
“Adding another auto-focused development at this very key intersection for South Philadelphia and the waterfront adds more cars, more congestion, and is exactly the opposite of the city's goals for Columbus Boulevard and for the waterfront,” said Karen Thompson, planner/project manager at the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the agency that oversaw development of the waterfront master plan...
...Thompson reminded the board that they unanimously adopted the Master Plan for the Central Delaware last year. She said that Tasker Street is an especially important street for pedestrian and cyclist access to the trail that runs behind the big box stores, and it will be Pennsport's only means of connecting to that waterfront.
She noted the site to the north that Blatstein just purchased would likely become an urban, walkable, mixed-use development in keeping with the master plan. Allowing this adjacent property to develop “in the way development happened 10 years ago” would set an unfortunate precedent and “set the Master Plan back just as it's beginning to take hold and create positive change for the waterfront.”
AAA says their permit was legally obtained through L&I and that their plans are sensitive to the Master Plan. Going so far to call it “It's extremely urban”  due to shifting the building to the street corner (instead of in the middle of the lot) and keeping access to the garage bays on the interior of the lot. More from PlanPhilly:
"Primavera [AAA's Attorney] said from either Delaware or Tasker, the business would seem like any store or restaurant, with its customer entry and windows facing the street. The travel agency/store would be located behind these windows. The 10 auto bays are located in the rear of the building, with five visible along the southern-most facade, which faces the Home Depot parking lot. The other five bays can't be seen from the outside, but a single door that provides access is located on the eastern most facade. This is the facade closest to the river, but its immediate neighbor is Home Depot's outdoor storage.
Here's what it looks like (images via PlanPhilly by way of AI Design Group):

AAA as seen from Columbus Boulevard and Tasker Street

The interior of the AAA plan
There will be a public meeting regarding this proposal on Tuesday, April 29th starting at 7pm at the EOM (138 Moore Street).

Whether you're for, against, or would just like more information about this project, the community meeting offers you a chance to get involved in a major development in Pennsport that has the potential to drastically shape the future of the Tasker Street Connector. 

If you're in to signing petitions, This Old City currently has one floating around regarding the AAA proposal:
Philly Planners are a good group of folks, and they may well want to do the right thing. But they need to hear from us that the public is strongly behind them putting the kibosh on new sprawl. This is why it's so important that you sign and share this petition.
Philadelphia deserves better.

Outdoor seating is in full bloom in Pennsport

Spring is in full swing and what's your favorite past time this time of year? No, it's not baseball -- it's eating (and drinking) outside at your favorite restaurant. You know what the best part is? You don't have to schlep up to Queen Village or Passyunk Avenue to have a nice night of outdoor dining with family, friends, or even your dog -- Pennsport has plenty of options these days.

The Veterans
Federal Donuts: There is simply nothing better than getting out of the office on a beautiful day for your lunch hour. What makes it heavenly is the chance to sit outside on "the bench" at FedNuts with your delicious fried chicken and side of honey-dipped hot donut. Seriously, if you haven't done it -- get on that and if you have, do it more often.

Ride the pine outside of FedNuts during your next lunch hour (via)
The Industry: One of the OG's in the Pennsport outdoor seating scene, The Industry is everyone's go-to joint. With killer food (Burgers and Bubbles on Monday's) and an awesome happy hour, if you haven't had an Industry Burger with a shot of Buffalo Trace while dining al fresco, chances are you're doing it wrong. Do it right during the warm weather - hit up The Industry.

Grindcore House: Everyone's favorite Vegan coffee shop has always offered outdoor seating to those who want to enjoy their vegan treats and coffee drinks. Get the horchata made with coconut milk (trust me, grab one this summer, it is delicious.)

Caffe Valentino: First and foremost, this place has tablecloths, so you know you're in for a treat. secondly, the food is wonderful and they now have brick over pizza! When they open the large windows, it feels like you're actually outside. To top it off, they have outside seating so enjoy your homemade Italian food on beautiful Moyamensing Avenue.

Warm Daddy's: Looking for a place that has a insanely cool roof deck featuring live music and soul food? Warm Daddy's next to the Riverview (and overlooking Engine 46 and the Delaware River) is definitely worth checking out.
The Newbies

Moonshine: Now offering lunch, Moonshine has plenty of outdoor seating. Featuring two tops on Sigel Street for the date crowd and larger four tops out "on the Avenue," Moonshine may be one of the newbies in the 'hood but they certainly know what they're doing -- especially with a burger that was recently featured on Thrillist's "8 Best Under The Radar Burgers in Philly." 

Second Street Brew House: And you didn't think it could get any better after they tag teamed with Guerrilla Ultima to own the craft beer bar meets food truck scene, you are sadly (but happily as well) mistaken. You can now enjoy your pint and award winning barbeque outside with seating on the corner of 2nd and Morris. I don't know what these guys will think of next but I can't wait to find out.

Mekong River: I know what you're thinking -- why in the heck would I need to eat outside when it's so darn beautiful on the inside? Because you love eating delicious Vietnamese cuisine outside as well! Next time you're in the mood for Pho, take it outside. By the way, it's just a stone's throw from the soon-to-be-amazingly revitalized Titan Park.

Did I miss any outdoor dining spots? Hit me up in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter to let me know!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

History Lecture, Brass Bands and Food Trucks at Mummers Museum May 4th

The first of a series of Sunday morning history lectures will kick off in style on May 4th from 1 to 3pm at the Mummers Museum. The event, billed as a "Mini Mardi Gras," will feature Susan McAninley, of the Friends of Washington Avenue Green, riffing on Pier 53's storied history as an immigration station. Being a loyal reader of the blog, you already know that Susan is in the midst of researching the stories of the people who came through the immigration station.

Check it out:
"In addition to photos of the pier, Susan shares her research on some of the people who disembarked at the Station. She has traced genealogy records to current day descendants, many of whom will be in attendance at the lecture celebrating their ancestors’ arrival."
The history lesson will be an incredible look in to the past of the future pier park but the fun doesn't end at 3pm -- after all, this is Pennsport, we like to party.

New Sound Brass Band will kick the party in to full-gear as food trucks line the parade venue located outside the Mummers Museum for the Inaugural First Sunday Brass Band Concert.

The event is $10 and will feature food, raffles, live music, and a cash bar. So come out on May 4th and get your learnin' on before getting your party on.

Check out this clip of New Sound Brass Band shutting down EOM 2Stock last summer -- they rocked it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Did You See The Redesign for Mount Sinai?

The proposed redevelopment at Mount Sinai Hospital has been an interesting ride. The first neighborhood meeting was a highly informative "feeling-out" type event that featured it's own soundtrack thanks to the choir at Mount Moriah Church. After more meetings, concerns of town home height, density, parking, financing, and construction helped further define the project thanks to neighborhood input and a development group willing to listen. Now, with shovels in the ground potentially starting in the near future, it looks as though Mount Sinai has gotten an updated look.
According to, the town homes are also getting a redesign and construction on the town homes could "begin in the next few weeks" with developer Gagan Lahkmna still looking to obtain historic tax credits in order to begin the adaptive re-use project on the main hospital building, which is proposed to house upwards of 200 apartments.

You may remember that the town homes looked like this during the proposal in January:
Three story town home proposal from January (via Barton Partners)
Three story town home proposal from January as seen from 4th and Reed Sts. (via Barton Partners)

Here is a new rendering featured in the piece (note that the corner property is not a part of the new Mount Sinai plans):
The redesigned town homes as seen from 5th and Dickinson Sts. (via
The redesigned town homes as seen from 5th and Dickinson Sts. (via
It certainly is a shift -- a modern, and some would say out of place, look transformed in to a more traditional, yet still dynamic, design that holds true to the spirit of the many row homes that define Philadelphia.

Note that they are still three-story town homes in this redesign as opposed to the original, which featured these four-story homes. Here is the original design for a further look at the dramatic change this project has undertaken:

So, what do you make of the new look?

A version of this post first appeared on The Passyunk Post -- which you can read here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Design Concepts for Pier 68 Revealed at Pennsport Meeting

Three design concepts were revealed Thursday night at the second public meeting regarding the future of Pier 68. Held among the delicious smells of Vietnamese cuisine at Mekong River at Front and Titan Sts., the meeting aimed to once again get community input and feedback for potential uses and designs of the park area. Representatives from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), Studio Bryan Hanes, and TEND Landscape were on hand to answer questions and meet the neighborhood.

Lizzie Woods greets the crowd at Mekong River
Lizzie Woods, Planner/Project Manager with the DRWC, explained that they are staying on track with the timeline of the project, even after the news that the tip of the pier will have to be removed -- potentially eating "a good chunk" of the current $1 million budget. Look for a few more meetings (like the one on April 28th at Settlement Music School in Queen Village) to nail down the final design and then construction to potentially begin at the end of the summer. Ms. Woods also explained that there is still the possibility of going after additional funding but they are moving forward with the current plan.

You may remember that the first meeting was similarly interactive in nature and sought to gather information from the public. Basically, this most recent meeting took that information and developed three design concepts based on that information.

Bryan Hanes, Lead Designer on Pier 68 and founder of Studio Bryan Hanes explained the vision for each design and encouraged everyone to take some time, review the concepts and present any feedback (positive or negative) as it is vital to the process. After all, they're looking to create something YOU want to use and enjoy.

Not a meeting person but still want your input to be heard? Take the design-specific surveys on the website in the near future. I would also encourage you to make your best effort to make the next meeting on April 28th.

Please click on the image to make it larger and forgive the quality of the photos.

Concept 1: "Down On The River"

Bryan Hanes mentioned this concept as a product of the feedback of the initial neighborhood meeting. It features a lot of green and places to sit for visitors to "commune with nature." You'll notice that Pier 68 is still a fishing pier as the floating fishing pad at the tip of the pier gives fisherman a defined space to cast a line. 

Full board featuring Concept 1 for Pier 68

Close up of the overheard layout and features of Concept 1
Concept 2: "Watching The Tide"

The second concept is the most dynamic. It features large cutouts within the pier that contain "separate wetland ecologies" within each zone. As the tide rises and lowers, visitors can see the water interact with the pier and the wetland.  Designed to "embed itself with the nature of the site", this concept offers an adventure and educational element not seen in the other iterations. The tip of the pier features a fishing loop that offers visitors and fisherman alike a chance to get further out onto the Delaware.

Full Board of Concept 2 highlights the ecology of the site

Edge of the pier features a walkway with inner and outer fishing zones

Topical view shows the cutouts that highlight tidal environments

 Design 3: "Prime and Paint"

The third concept looked to celebrate the flash and glitz of the Mummers. The design calls for the pier to be vibrantly painted accompanied by other design elements and shade trees for visitors and fisherman. Bright colored furniture would also contribute to a true landmark experience. Given the minimal budget of the project, this concept looks to create "something Philadelphia has never seen before," according to Bryan Hanes. It also offers versatility for the space in the event that additional funding is obtained.

Breaking away from traditional park motifs, Concept 3 looks to create a landmark for "something Philadelphia has never seen before"

Full board gives you an idea of the flashier pier with natural elements to complement fishing spots

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What You Need To Know: Developments Along the Delaware River

What You Need To Know will be a semi-recurring feature that gives you a quick look at some of the important happenings in the area -- a quick-hitting guide on a subject with links for further reading.


There has been a lot of action along the southern section of the Delaware River recently. Here are five story lines to keep an eye on with links for further reading.

1) There are two upcoming neighborhood meetings regarding the planning of Pier 68, even after the news that the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation might have to delay its opening in order to figure out how to best deal with the dilapidated pier's edge, which could crunch the budget for the amenities in the rest of the park.

The first meeting was an amazing opportunity to interact with the designers and planners of the pier park. I would highly recommend you make it to one of these (if not both).

WHEN:                  Thursday, April 17, 7-8PM
WHERE:                Mekong River Restaurant (1120 S. Front St)

WHEN:                  Wednesday, April 23, 7-8PM
WHERE:                Settlement Music School (416 Queen St)
2) AAA is still trying to make waterfront auto-repair a thing and will pitch their plans for the site at 1601 South Columbus Boulevard to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission Tuesday, April 15th. Given that it's at the mouth of the future Tasker Street Connector and calls for "many garage doors" to face that Connector, you might want to keep a close eye on this story.

3) Bart Blatstein bought the former Foxwood's site (back) that is bounded by Reed and Tasker Sts., the River to Columbus Blvd. Some notes: although Blatstein doesn't have plans for the site as of yet, the site won't be a casino. He is also giving 100 feet of land at the rear of the property to the Natural Lands Trust to continue the riverfront trail. Blatstein is known as a guy who gets things done, so look for plans for this to come together quickly -- hopefully that means plans for his "other" riverfront property will as well. 

Crews were seen clearing the site this week.

The Delaware River Trail in the center with the new Blatstein property (former Foxwood's site) on the left

4) Eric Blumenfeld looks to develop the 20-acre Sheet Metal Workers site in to an "entire city" along the Delaware River. Here's a quote from Blumenfeld, who once had this vision for the Divine Lorraine:
"Based on the new zoning, it should turn into an entire city," with 1,000 or more apartments, stores, "waterside dining," and maybe offices on 600,000 sq. ft. between Columbus Ave. and the Delaware, says Blumenfeld. The Delaware River Waterfront Develoment Corp. has a plan to build a trail through the property that would "mimic what exists on the Schuylkill."
"Based on the new zoning, it should turn into an entire city," with 1,000 or more apartments, stores, "waterside dining," and maybe offices on 600,000 sq. ft. between Columbus Ave. and the Delaware, says Blumenfeld. The Delaware River Waterfront Develoment Corp. has a plan to build a trail through the property that would "mimic what exists on the Schuylkill."
5) Washington Avenue Green will be holding an event for the opening of Love Your Park Week on May 10th from 11am to 1pm. The event will be a great way to get outside and enjoy some time with your family along the river. For more information, please visit their Facebook page.

"Based on the new zoning, it should turn into an entire city," with 1,000 or more apartments, stores, "waterside dining," and maybe offices on 600,000 sq. ft. between Columbus Ave. and the Delaware, says Blumenfeld. The Delaware River Waterfront Develoment Corp. has a plan to build a trail through the property that would "mimic what exists on the Schuylkill."
"Based on the new zoning, it should turn into an entire city," with 1,000 or more apartments, stores, "waterside dining," and maybe offices on 600,000 sq. ft. between Columbus Ave. and the Delaware, says Blumenfeld. The Delaware River Waterfront Develoment Corp. has a plan to build a trail through the property that would "mimic what exists on the Schuylkill."

Swanson Street is Getting Some Much Need TLC

There was an interesting reaction to the news that Adventurer's Mini Golf was going to open in May at 38 Jackson Street. In that story, we mentioned that there was a possibility of future improvements to the roadway and street experience on Swanson Street, the pot-holed north/south artery that passes through the Target shopping area at Morris Street down through the future site of South Bowl at Oregon Avenue. While you certainly liked the idea of putt-putt in South Philly, there seemed to be just as much excitement for a better, safer Swanson Street. Well, it looks like a plan is starting to take shape as a large patch of roadway was recently paved.

This dangerous patch of Swanson Street has recently been paved (via Google Maps)
Councilman Mark Squilla is working to make Swanson Street better, with this current pave job between Target and ShopRite hopefully just the beginning.

“I have been meeting with the Streets Department and Conrail on street improvements and a master plan for Swanson [Street],” Councilman Squilla wrote in an email. He also mentioned that potholes will continued to be filled along Swanson Street and that they look to hopefully re-stripe the stretch south of Snyder Avenue.

It's a tricky area with not only heavy streams of traffic to deal with but also train tracks and shifting lanes. Any improvements are welcome, especially those that make it easier to navigate for both drivers and pedestrians.

A treacherous patch of Swanson Street was recently paved. Councilman Squilla is working with various agencies on improvements

Swanson Street has seen a ton of action recently as the construction of South Bowl chugs along, the opening of the 2300 Arena at Ritner Street, and the aforementioned Adventurer's Mini Golf set to open in May. The news that Councilman Squilla is actively looking to better Swanson Street, combined with on-going roadway improvements  on Water Street, is huge news for access to Pennsport and points south.

A pretty (and welcomed) pave job

Keep you eyes peeled for more roadwork and be sure to let us know if you see any!

A version of this post appeared on The Passyunk Post, which you can view here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Orange Sticker Alert: School Catering Service Coming to Front and Morris Street

A version of this story appeared on The Passyunk Post, it has been updated to reflect the actual use for the site.

There has been a lot of action on Front Street in the past few months. First, the old Norman's Furniture warehouse went up for sale.  Most recently, homes and businesses up and down Front St. have been hit hard by taggers. Now comes word that a catering business is coming to the old Langostino's spot on Front and Morris Street.

Just look at those wide sidewalks!
Officially located at 100 Morris Street, the new catering business will operate out of the former Langostino's Restaurant, which has been closed for a few years.

In a recent conversation with Dr. Jim Moylan, President of the Pennsport Civic Association, he confirmed that it is going to be a catering business but that it is strictly for school breakfasts and lunches. This will not be a take out scenario as no food will be sold on premises just cooked and prepared. Also, it's worth noting is that they will have limited daytime hours as Dr. Moylan mentioned the hours of operation would be from around 11am to 5pm.

Friday, April 4, 2014

VOTE:Manton Street Park & Community Garden in the Running for Grant

Yo - it's Pennsport Cares Week and if you haven't been following along, we've been featuring great ways for you to get involved in the community and use you many skills for the betterment of the 'hood! 

Check out our previous features including a Pennsporter Running Against Hunger and a Make-A-Wish Benefit on Passyunk Ave!

ps: Philly's 7th Annual Spring Cleanup is Saturday, April 5th and there is plenty of action to be had in Pennsport and the surrounding communities. If you can't make it out to the parks, get to work on your sidewalk and pitch in! 

You'se guys rock!

Manton Street Park & Community Garden, everyone's favorite little/big public leisure park and garden space at 4th and Manton Sts., is up for a $10,000 grant through the Seeds Of Change Grant Program.

What does an amount like $10,000 mean to the park that was recently featured as the signature site of the city's Love Your Park kickoff campaign? A more robust slate of programming for one. Mark Berman, President of the Friends of Manton Street Park and Community Garden explained:

"This grant would allow us to expand programs and make needed upgrades to support our activities. New programs would include educational 'garden parties' as a fun interactive way to teach urban gardening. These events will be targeted to our diverse community and focus on topics like container gardening and cooking what you've grown."
Improvements to the current planters and raised bed structures would also be made for the benefit of the community. Finally, the Friends of Manton Street Park & Community Garden will look to partner with the local elementary school to provide students access to the garden and educate them on gardening and healthy lifestyles.

The top 50 sites will be chosen around April 7th -- so get involved and VOTE!


It's quite simple -- VOTE!
  1. "LIKE" the Seeds of Change Facebook Page
  2. VOTE ONCE PER DAY THROUGH APRIL 21st for Manton Street Park & Community Garden using THIS LINK.
  3. SHARE THE LINK and that you voted on Facebook, Twitter, Email, and with your neighbors to help spread the word about Manton Street Park & Community Garden and this $10,000 grant. 
Together, we can make this happen!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"Green Oasis" Planned for Titan Park

About a year ago, The Passyunk Post featured tiny Titan Park located at the corner of Howard and Titan Streets in Pennsport. Back then, neighbors were gathering to develop an overall vision for the pocket park and organize the Friends of Titan Park community group. The Community Design Collaborative has recently released a new plan for the space and it looks like Titan Park is one step closer to becoming the "green oasis" neighbors had hoped it would become just about a year ago.
Titan Park as it is today (Photo: James Jennings)
Titan Park as it is today (Photo: James Jennings)
The stylish new plans look to make improvements to storm water management by swapping the large swaths of concrete with permeable pavers inside and outside the park. The planting of trees and other greenery will also aid in storm water management. The park will also have temporary, community-led components to engage nearby neighbors' "DIY" attitude and keep Titan Park an active space. In looking at the current rendering, it seems that the trellis' will help "enclose" Titan Park from the houses that overlook the space, helping to create a more intimate feel for visitors.
The new vision for Titan Park (via The Community Design Collaborative)
The new vision for Titan Park (via The Community Design Collaborative)
Lastly, the new design looks to create "zones" -- Quiet, Active, and Civic -- that embrace the several personalities of tiny Titan Park. As the CDC put it:
Even a small park can have several personalities. The street edges would be the Civic Zone, where new infrastructure (street trees, tree trenches) benefits both park users and pedestrians. The midsection would be the Active Zone, with reconfigurable play spaces, tables, and chairs.  The back of the park would be the Quiet Zone, with a green arbor and trellis and chunky built-in benches.
The creation of various "zones" will give the park a robust personality (via The Community Design Collaborative)
The creation of various "zones" will give the park a robust personality (via The Community Design Collaborative)
Be sure to follow Friends of Titan Park on Facebook for more information, and hey, maybe even think about joining their efforts in transforming the park from concrete jungle to "green oasis".

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pennsport Cares Week, Day 3: Help 'Make-A-Wish' Come True for A Local Child in Need

Can you believe we're half way through Pennsport Cares Week already? Phew, time flies when you get involved and show how much you care!  Great job to everyone who has followed along thus far and don't worry, there's more goodness coming your way.

Help spread the word: please share these stories with your friend or neighbors on Facebook and Twitter.

Day 1 featured Ryanne Jennings, who is running her first 5k on April 12th in support of local food access agencies at the Walk + Run Against Hunger 2014. Click here for more information on how to donate.

One Day 2, we featured neighborhood organizations and community groups in the hope that you will get informed, get involved, and maybe even get your hands dirty to help further the area. 

Kids helping kids in needs, it's a wonderful thing (via)

Don't think we're taking it easy on you for Day 3, in fact, it's probably the most important day. We're  looking to help local children who have fallen ill and are in need of a little hope to help them battle ailments that often hit way too close to home.

The Alphabet Academy, a childcare network with four locations on Passyunk Avenue, is partnering with Make-A-Wish Philadelphia & Susquehanna Valley through the KIDS FOR WISH KIDS program to grant "wishes" to children in the area fighting a life-threatening illness.

Last year, The Alphabet Academy raised over $8,000 to help send a four year old boy with cerebral palsy named Gabe and his family to Disney World -- his "wish" literally granted thanks to the generosity of the area. 

Given that many of these children face life-threatening circumstance, the identity of the child will be made known after the wish is granted. But please know, your pledge will help grant the wish of a local child in need.

No donation is too small for this important cause and there are a few ways to get involved. 

BUNNY HOP: April 15th - 11am - Singing Fountain, Passyunk Ave. at Tasker Street
Last year's Bunny Hop raised over $8,000 -- let's beat that! (via South Philly Review)
In an educational and creative effort to help grant the wish and teach children the importance of giving to those in need, the team over at the Alphabet Academy is holding a Bunny Hop at the Singing Fountain on April 15th at 11am. The children are asked collect donations from friends, family, and neighbors in the weeks leading up to the event then show off the hopping skills for those in attendance on the 15th. With spring brings the season of Easter and so, the Easter Bunny will also be in attendance to cheer on the kids. It's a fun way to teach kids at an early age to get involved and show them that they can make a difference in the world. 

Here is what the Alphabet Academy had to say:
"The 'Make-A-Wish Foundation' is an organization close to our hearts. Children are our passion and there is no greater gift then having the ability to help a child fighting a life threatening illness. All the children we raise donations for live right here in our community."
To sponsor the soon-to-be hoppiest children in Philadelphia, please click here to donate and know that you're a rock star for doing so. 

MAKE-A-WISH BENEFIT: April 15th - 7 to 9pm - Alphabet Aquarium, 1720 E. Passyunk 
The Alphabet Aquarium will hold a Make-A-Wish Benefit and Silent Auction on April 15th

Knowing that the Bunny Hop is in the middle of the work day, the folks at the Alphabet Academy are also holding a Make-A-Wish Benefit with silent auction featuring rooftop cocktails and hors d'oeuvres

Tickets for the event are $100/person and can be purchased at any of the four Alphabet Academy locations -- with all of the proceeds going to their Make-A-Wish drive.

It's a chance to have a wonderful night out (without the kids) and help to support an even better cause. For more information and to get a look at some of the sweet silent auction prizes, including a Kindle Fire and a box set of Johnny Walker Blue (hello!), check out their Facebook event here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pennsport Cares Week -- Day 2: Get Involved with Your Neighborhood Community Groups

Welcome to the Pennsport Cares Week! 

Pennsport is an amazing community filled with a diverse group of neighbors who give back any chance they get. Pennsport Cares Week is a celebration of that charitable spirit that lives in this neighborhood by featuring a new chance for you to get involved for the greater good. We understand times are tough and if you can't contribute financially, please consider donating your time to these worthwhile causes. And who knows? You may have a little fun the process.

Remember to stay involved: please share these stories with your friend or neighbors.

Day 1 featured Ryanne Jennings, who is running her first 5k on April 12th in support of local food access agencies at the Walk + Run Against Hunger 2014. Click here for more information on how to donate.


"How do I get involved?"

That's a question I often hear from neighbors when we're talking about the goings-on in the 'hood. It's a fair question but one that is easily answered. Simply put, helping out is as simple as picking up some litter off the curb. However, if you're looking for a more organized way to get involved, don't worry, we've got the list that will help you become a force within the community. 

Let's break it down into two groups: Nearby Civic Organizations and "Friends of" Groups -- each allow ample opportunity for you to get involved and help strengthen the bond you have with the 'hood.

Psst, you're going to see the phrase "get involved" quite a bit in this post -- so, get used to it and better yet, GET INVOLVED.


PCA meets at the EOM (138 Moore Street) the second Wednesday of each month in order to discuss relevant community issues and upcoming developments. While I'm humbled that many of you rely on Pennsporter to get your civic info, I would strongly encourage you to hit up a meeting every once in awhile. It's a great way to meet your neighbors and get the pulse of the neighborhood.

If you can't make the meeting, subscribe to their e-mail list by shooting an e-mail over to If Facebook is your thing, definitely "like" their page for periodic updates on Pennsport.

QVNA usually meets the third Thursday of each month at Saint Philip Neri Church (218 Queen Street). Our neighbors to the north have a wonderfully thorough website and even have a mobile app, which you can download here.

Looking to volunteer? They have that covered as well with this handy form that lists the various committees looking for your help.

DSWCA meets on the third Tuesday of each month at Mount Moriah Church (410 Wharton Street) at 7pm. Much like QVNA, their website is extremely informative and offers various ways to stay informed and also to get involved. 

Whitman Council is located at 2455 South 3rd Street and helps to keep residents informed by providing assistance through meetings in the basement at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (2329 S. Third St.) and a Facebook Page. If you'd like to get involved in the Whitman Area, please contact them directly by phone at 215-468-4056 or by email at


A shot of the ribbon cutting at Manton Street Park & Community Garden
Manton Street Park & Community Garden recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony in celebration of it's grand opening as well as its being chosen as the "Signature Site" of the City of Philadelphia's Love Your Park 2013 event.

A public leisure space located at 4th and Manton Sts. on the border of Pennsport and Dickinson Square West, Manton Street Park & Community Garden offers fun and robust ways to get involved for individuals and families alike. Please consider subscribing to their Facebook Page for more information.

Join in on the fun and help keep Dickinson Square Park beautiful
The Friends of Dickinson Square park are a group of neighbors who have banded together to create a community around one of Pennsport's most prized public spaces. There are a bunch of ways to get involved, so you might want to join their group on Facebook to stay informed on the many ways to pitch in around the 'hood. You can also visit their website here.

Stella enjoys the sun at Jefferson Square Park
The Friends of Jefferson Square Park do a wonderful job of maintaining the beautiful park that creates the Northeast boundary of Pennsport. Subscribe to their Facebook page for more information on how to get involved in activities such as KIDZ NITE, outdoor movie screenings, and park cleanups. They also have a well-maintained website offering loads of information as well as the opportunity to subscribe to their newsletter.

The view at Pier 53/Washington Avenue Green from the Fall. It's currently undergoing construction.
The Friends of Washington Avenue Green is a group of neighbors who are in charge of maintaining former site of Pier 53 -- the future site of newest pier park along the Delaware River. Many of their activities are family based and eco-centric with regular meetings and site cleanups. Check out their website for a look at its historic past and give their Facebook Page a "like" for more information about getting involved.

Titan Park is on the cusp of something special
 The crew over at the Friends of Titan Park are looking to create a "green oasis" out of a concrete area located at the corner of Titan and Howard Sts. It's the perfect canvas for the next great pocket park in Pennsport. That means there is plenty of opportunity to get involved. "Like" their Facebook Page to stay informed or contact

Howard Street Park a little over a year ago. These "pocket parks" help define the character of the 'hood.
The Friends of Howard Street Park have revitalized another Pennsport Pocket Park in order to help build community and celebrate the DIY nature. Located at the corner of Howard and Reed Streets, they hold regular cleanups and plantings to help make this slice of Pennsport a thing of beauty. Hit them up on Facebook as well if you'd like to get involved and get your hands dirty.