Measuring Economic Impact
How does the Historic Tacony Revitalization Project of the Tacony Community Development Corporation generate jobs and investment here in Tacony? It generates jobs by retaining and expanding business and economic activity along Torresdale Avenue. As part of our efforts to revitalize our commercial corridor and service area we have followed up, 3 years later, to evaluate economic activities in our service area and the impact of our efforts. Economic development means to increase the level of economic activity. When an area develops economically, there are more jobs, more customers, more sales, more transactions, and more investment. We are seeing that happen here in Tacony faster than we could have anticipated.
We have used a variety of tools to bring new investment to our service area. The first tool is building investment and rehabilitation, which means new building improvements and construction work. Much of the construction and rehabilitation work along Torresdale Avenue has been funded by our facade program. This program will bring an estimated $228,000 worth of exterior improvements to 13 storefronts. $88,000 of these improvements are being funded in partnership with the Philadelphia Commerce Department and the Storefront Improvement Program. You can see the result of this investment with recently completed renovations at DeNofa’s Deli and the Sannutti Funeral Home. Improvements outside sometimes bring improvements inside as well. Both of these façade improvements have also generated investment in the rehabilitation of building interiors.
The new DeNofa’s Deli storefront looks great, but this has brought critical new investment and jobs into our neighborhood.
Other new investment projects outside of the façade program are coming to Torresdale Ave. Pagano’s Steaks and Shakes will be occupying the former Produce City at the corner of Torresdale Avenue and Robbins Avenue. This site had been vacant for more than two years. Pagano’s has completely renovated the building and installed a commercial kitchen. Similar to Pagano’s, some property owners along the corridor have rehabilitated formerly vacant spaces with modern finishes in anticipation of finding a new tenant. Working with our vacant space directory, we hope to attract new quality tenants to those available spaces.
Blight reduction has also brought new investment. Working in partnership with Councilman Bobby Henon vacant and blighted buildings have been repaired to comply with the Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code. The follow-up investments in building repair to meet code standards have improved the exterior appearance of those former problem properties.
Torresdale Avenue is also seeing new construction for the first time in many years. A new mixed-use building is rising to replace a former vacant lot at the corner of Torresdale Avenue and Disston Street, adding a new business and new apartments.
In addition to building improvements, TreePhilly and the Tacony CDC have brought new trees and landscaping to the corridor, improving its overall appearance.
We have visited with business and property owners and estimated the value of total improvements to be $1.2 million dollars.[i] This figure does not include the scheduled second phase of the Torresdale Avenue Project scheduled to bring an additional $1 million dollars in streetscape improvements.[ii]
Our efforts have brought new investment to Torresdale Avenue
When we look at the results of our program investments, the estimated return on investment is approximately $6.48 for every dollar spent by the Tacony Community Development Corporation.
Businesses Opened, Closed, and Transferred
While building improvements are one important measure, another important measure of economic activity is how many businesses opened, closed, and transferred. This provides a good measure the health of the business environment on Torresdale Avenue. In every commercial corridor businesses open, close, and transfer as a part of the normal business cycle. The goal of every commercial corridor program, like ours, is to have more openings than closings.
Business interest in Torresdale Avenue is growing.
Since the start of the program three businesses along Torresdale Avenue have closed. [iii] These businesses have closed for a variety of reasons including stress from the business cycle, retirement, relocation, etc. Businesses close for all kinds of reasons. While three businesses have closed, three that have transferred to new owners,[iv] and fourteen have opened or are scheduled to open.[v] That means that for every business that closed, four have opened. That is an amazing achievement and has resulted in a significant drop in the effective vacancy rate in our corridor.
Measuring Job Retention and Expansion
Another important measure of economic activity is the number of jobs lost, retained, and gained. This follows closely to the number of businesses opened, closed, and transferred. We estimate that the closure of three business resulted in the loss of four jobs. Before our project began businesses were closing at a faster rate, and the vacancy rate was rising along Torresdale Avenue. We estimate that without our efforts of business retention and expansion we would have lost an additional five businesses along the corridor, which employed ten people. That means that we retained ten jobs through our efforts. As we wrote previously, we have detailed that we have fourteen businesses opening along Torresdale Avenue. That means that we have brought thirty-two new jobs into our neighborhood by occupying formerly vacant spaces and expanding existing businesses.
Jobs are critical to building a stable neighborhood.
Note on Construction Employment
The planned construction activity for both new construction and building rehabilitation will result in the creation of 15 new jobs to perform the work required.[vi]
Economic Activity is Growing
We’ve heard from business owners that business is getting better. But stories don’t always translate into measurable outcomes. With the help of our volunteer, Christian Regeosch, our in-depth look at economic activity clearly demonstrates that economic activity along Torresdale Avenue in Tacony is growing. More building investment, more new businesses, and more jobs are evidence that our hard work is bringing a new day to Torresdale Avenue. We know there is much more work to do, and we hope you will join us to improve our neighborhood.
[i] This figure includes the estimated value of new construction, investments in formerly vacant buildings along the corridor, scheduled and completed facade improvements, business sold/transferred with subsequent physical exterior/interior improvements, interior improvements, landscape investment, and repairs to make problem properties code compliant.
[ii] This project was scheduled before the start of the Historic Tacony Revitalization Project.
[iii] Businesses Closed or Relocated: Checchio, CPA; Yik Yak Club; Sprint PCS
[iv] Business Transferred and Improved: Tacony Public House; Printz Café; Esposito’s Water Ice
[v] New Businesses Opened or Planned: Disston Chiropractic;* Two New Tacony Professional Building Tenants; Gwenni Bodega; Japanese Sushi; Seafood Store;* Dream Nails; Faith Thrift Store; Councilman Bobby Henon; Smart Start Academy;* Amerimex Ambulance; Premium Appliance; Agape Children & Learning Center;* Pagano’s Steaks and Shakes;* [*denotes planned]
[vi] Economic impact evaluated from Preservation Economic Impact Model from the National Parks Service. Assumptions include $1.2 million dollars of estimated investment in construction and rehabilitation.