Plan 2035 Public Meeting Invites Public Participation to Identify Key Future Projects in Tacony

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission invites the public to share their ideas and views on the future of the North Delaware District of the Philadelphia 2035 Plan. This plan will identify key projects and focus areas to address over the next twenty years in our area.

Key parts of the comprehensive plan highlight Demographics (population growth, age, household type, income, race, unemployment); Environment (pollution, tree coverage, water); Public Health (illness, chronic disease, obesity, smoking. food access); Open Space & Trails; Transportation (commercial corridors, major infrastructure); Zoning; Commercial Corridors & Neighborhood Retail; and Public Spaces, Gateways, and Public Art..

A plan cannot be successful without public involvement, and as the North Delaware District Plan progresses, there are key opportunities for public input and involvement.

Share your thoughts on the future of our neighborhood.

Share your thoughts on the future of our neighborhood.

You can also participate digitally! Share your thoughts and ideas here and learn more about the plan.

On Tuesday evening July 28th, 2015 the North Delaware Steering Committee made up of key stakeholders shared initial thoughts on the analysis of the Planning Commission Staff. The activity identified Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Barriers within the district. There are many exciting projects underway including: the Torresdale Ave Revitalization Project, Library Renovation, Waterfront Trail Expansion, I-95 Reconstruction, and New School Construction in Tacony. We look forward to expanding these opportunities in the District Plan.

Members of the Steering Committee participate in an early planning exercise, led by the Planning Commission.

Members of the Steering Committee participate in an early planning exercise, led by the Planning Commission.

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Fifteenth District Police Look for Ideas, Better Community Ties

by James Onofrio

One of the most difficult and important aspects of community policing is the trust and communication between police and the community they serve. To improve this relationship and get residents’ points of view, police in the city’s 15th District held an open meeting last Tuesday at the McIlvain Rec Center in Frankford.

Tacony Civic Association President Joseph Sannutti asks Captain McCloskey about ways to strengthen police-community partnerships.

Tacony Civic Association President Joseph Sannutti asks Captain McCloskey about ways to strengthen police-community partnerships.

15th District Officer Jacobs, Lieutenant Gordon and District Captain John McCloskey organized the meeting, which was attended by several other PPD officers, and members of the Tacony, Frankford and Mayfair communities. The meeting wasn’t meant to be for specific complaints about problem properties or corner hangouts, but for residents to talk with police about how they could better serve the communities.

One of the biggest complaints from residents was that the flow of information is often very one sided. Residents give info to the police about crimes that have occurred, and then don’t hear anything more from PPD about the status of the investigation. Some of this, the officers said, was intentional – the department doesn’t want to release information they think might help a potential suspect hide or flee.

The officers also cautioned residents that real police work “isn’t like on TV.” Investigations take time to gather information and often face an uphill battle getting info. For the cops’ part, they said it can be hard to let communities know when they need help from the community. PPD and the districts are active and responsive on social media, but that isn’t always the first place people turn to contact them.

The officers and community members agreed that face time and foot presence were the bedrock of police-resident relations. “If you’re patrolling the same street every day and the store owners don’t know your name, there’s something you aren’t doing,” said Lt. Gordon. That being said, the District has limited resources, and over-concentrating presence in one place can leave others vulnerable if an incident were to occur.

The District holds regular community meetings at the service area (PSA) level once a month. Dates can be found on the district’s website, http://www.phillypolice.com/districts/15th/index.html. Other meetings such as this brainstorming session in Frankford will also appear on the District’s calendar, and the District can be found on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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Take the Tacony Survey and Help us Plan for the Future

To help us focus our time and energy on the things most important to the Tacony community, we’ve created a short survey asking your thoughts about the neighborhood.  The survey takes about 10 minutes or less to complete, and asks you to agree or disagree with some statements about Tacony and your day-to-day experience here. Your answers will help us better plan for the future.

Take the survey here.

SawTown Tavern is just one of many exciting changes planned for the near future.

SawTown Tavern is just one of many exciting changes planned for the near future.

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Planning Process Underway for City’s “North Delaware” Planning District

By James Onofrio

When you see a group of smartly-dressed people walking the streets with clipboards and folded-up maps, it’s easy to assume they are a team from L&I or the Water Department surveying for violations or want to sign you up for some environmental cause. But in the coming months, the clipboard carriers will probably be surveyors from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC), collecting info about the physical state of Tacony.

As part of the city’s comprehensive Philadelphia2035 planning process, teams from PCPC have to make sure their maps of the neighborhood are accurate. Sometimes an owner converts the first floor of their house into a business, or the other way around; sometimes a storm takes down newly planted street trees or utility wires. Other city agencies don’t always let the Planning Commission know what changes they have made. In order to plan for the future, the planners need to know what’s here in the present.

Since Philadelphia is such a big city and the planning commission has limited employees, they have broken the city up into 17 districts. Tacony falls in the “North Delaware District,” which stretches from Wissinoming up to the Bucks County border, from the Delaware across Frankford Avenue.

On Thursday, we at Tacony CDC had the opportunity to walk the Torresdale Avenue corridor with a PCPC Planner, John Haak. He had a few tasks: mark which commercial buildings were occupied and which were vacant, note any changes in use (such as a ground floor conversion), and make a general assessment about the physical state of the Avenue. Are the sidewalks in good condition? Are people’s lawns kept up? Are building storefronts clean and maintained?

CDC Manager Alex Balloon and Planner John Haak "pound the pavement" on Torresdale Ave

CDC Manager Alex Balloon and Planner John Haak “pound the pavement” on Torresdale Ave

These questions aren’t just bureaucratic checkboxes. Over decades of working with commercial corridors, planners and business owners, local business groups and others have found that keeping the appearance of the street up and maintaining a feeling of safety is one of the best ways to get more businesses into the neighborhood. If people feel it is safe and pleasant to walk around, they will be more likely to shop on the street, driving up sales and leading businesses to expand and hire more staff. This is the core mission of Tacony CDC and many other “Main Street” organizations around Philadelphia and other cities.

By updating their maps, the PCPC hopes to better serve the neighborhood by knowing what kinds of businesses are missing from Torresdale Avenue, where the major commercial intersections are, and if there are any areas in need of serious repair. In the past, Tacony has received “Good” or “Fair” ratings from the PCPC, which means the city basically lets the neighborhood continue on its own without too much interference from the government.

Torresdale Avenue in Tacony is classified as a “Neighborhood Center,” meaning the shops are mostly targeted towards the residents of the neighborhood. Business development mostly focuses on bringing in any types of businesses that are missing, such as a laundromat or a bakery, and making sure there aren’t many vacancies on the corridor.

As the planning process continues, PCPC will hold meetings and outreach events to go beyond the physical conditions into residents’ daily experiences in their neighborhood to create a plan that will guide the city towards better serving the communities of Northeast Philadelphia.

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Tacony Community Development Corporation Honored for Historic Preservation Work With Storefront Program

The Tacony CDC was honored by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia at the Preservation Achievement Awards held on June 3rd at the Union League of Philadelphia. Receiving the prestigious Grand Jury prize for outstanding achievements in Historic Preservation with its Storefront Program, the Tacony CDC included important project partners–the Philadelphia Department of Commerce and the Community Design Collaborative.

Receiving the award were: Alex Balloon Tacony CDC; Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz Tacony CDC Board President and Owner Marie Huff Hairdressing; Yvonne Boye Senior Director Philadelphia Commerce Department; and Robin Kohles Project Associate at the Community Design Collaborative

Receiving the award were: Alex Balloon Tacony CDC; Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz Tacony CDC Board President and Owner Marie Huff Hairdressing; Yvonne Boye Senior Director Philadelphia Commerce Department; and Robin Kohles Project Associate at the Community Design Collaborative

Storefront Program Saved

Thanks to the efforts of Councilman Bobby Henon the Philadelphia Storefront Program was funded this year and saved as a valuable neighborhood revitalization tool. Our thanks goes out to the Councilman for his leadership on this issue. Our Tacony CDC board member and local business owner Mike Scotese was an outstanding advocate for this important program. We look forward to beginning our next round of storefronts later in the year.

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Residents Get Look at Potential Street Redesigns from Torresdale Avenue to the Riverfront

By James Onofrio

On Tuesday, Tacony area residents got a chance to interact with planners and designers working on a plan to upgrade a street between Torresdale Avenue and the Delaware. Project staff from Interface Studio, Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT), an engineering firm, and the project’s sponsor Delaware River City Corporation were on hand to give a short presentation and get feedback from residents about what they wanted to get from the project.

The team is considering a few streets as the main possibilities: Levick, Magee and Unruh. Each had positives and negatives. Currently, Magee does not continue all the way to the river, though it stops at a large grass field and could easily continue. Unruh enters an industrial area with industrial and other uses between 95 and the river. Levick Street, as the connector to the Tacony Palmyra Bridge, is much louder and heavily trafficked than the others, but also leads directly to Lardner’s Point Park.

Potential "connector streets" to link Torresdale Ave & Tacony to the Delaware Waterfront

Potential “connector streets” to link Torresdale Ave & Tacony to the Delaware Waterfront

What the project team is trying to do at this stage is get a sense of what the local community – the future users of the connector street – care most about for reconnecting the neighborhood to the river. Those who attended the meeting were asked to show on a large map where their favorite place in the neighborhood is, the place they think is the biggest problem area, and where they think needs the most improvement. Residents also got to choose among a dozen or so options what kinds of things they want to see in a “connector street,” such as good lighting, bike lanes, and wide sidewalks.

Based on the resident feedback given on Tuesday, the teams from Interface and JMT will begin developing more concrete proposals for each of the three streets, which will be presented again to residents at a later stage. Currently the study is slated to enter its next phase sometime in the spring.

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Commercial Real Estate Opportunities in Tacony

By James Onofrio

A number of exciting, well-priced commercial properties are currently available along the Torresdale Avenue corridor in Tacony. The neighborhood has been undergoing a retail revitalization in recent years, with a handful of new businesses opening up and others remodeling their storefronts through city programs and their own initiative. This Real Estate Opportunities flyer highlights some of the currently available buildings in the neighborhood.

One unique property currently for sale is the historic Tacony Trust Company Building on the corner of Tulip and Longshore, built in the 1890s by Henry Disston as part of his vision for a company town to accompany the Disston Saw Works. This building offers almost 10,000 square feet of historical potential, with amenities including an elevator and dumb waiter, central AC on the first two floors, and a full basement for storage.

More conventional retail storefront opportunities are also available on Torresdale Avenue. Two former insurance offices, a former hardware store and a bar are currently listed. In conventional Philly row-home style, these buildings offer downstairs retail space with an upstairs residential unit. All are zoned CMX-2, the city’s mid-density mixed use designation common for commercial corridors like Torresdale Ave.

For more reasons why you should choose Tacony, see the Torresdale Avenue Business Recruitment package, which contains information about business improvement projects underway in the neighborhood and what kinds of new retail are needed on Torresdale Avenue.

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Help Connect Tacony to New Waterfront Parks and Trails: Attend the Public Meeting on Tuesday, June 16th

The Delaware River City Corporation is sponsoring a study to better connect our neighborhood with the waterfront and places like Lardner’s Point Park. This project is called the Tacony Connector Street Study. Join us and the project team on Tuesday, June 16th from 6:30-8PM at the Disston Recreation Center at the intersection of Disston and Glenloch Streets.

We need to hear from you. Help plan a better Tacony!

We need to hear from you. Help plan a better Tacony!

If you cannot attend the meeting please participate by taking an online survey after June 16th.

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Families Enjoy Tacony Community Day at the Tacony Library

Tacony families and friends enjoyed many special activities at Tacony Community Day at the Tacony Library on June 6, 2015. Attendees were welcomed with arts, crafts, face painting, balloon animals, and performers.

Families participated in a variety of fun activities at the Library.

Families participated in a variety of fun activities at the Library.

Staff were on hand from the Free Library of Philadelphia to answer questions about the Tacony Library Renovation planned for next year. Also available were representatives from the Tacony CDC to discuss the upcoming Tacony Connector Street Project. In addition, the CDC distributed its Spring/Summer Newsletter highlighting major achievements.

Community organizations provided information about upcoming programs and events to attendees.

Community organizations provided information about upcoming programs and events to attendees.

Many families participated in a special program and met two owls from the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Children learned about owl facts and legends.

Jordan, an educator from the SCEE introduces a screech owl to families and discusses owl facts and myths.

Jordan, an educator from the SCEE introduces a screech owl to families and discusses owl facts and myths.

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Sawtown Tavern Leaves Tacony Buzzing

After months of hard work the Tacony community was delighted to welcome Sawtown Tavern to the neighborhood! The festivities kicked off at 11am when the Philly Beer Week bus, headed by co-owner and Tacony resident Mike Scotese, dropped the Hammer of Glory off to Tavern owner Troy Everwine. After the hammer’s pledge was recited Troy hoisted the hammer above his head and officially welcomed the crowd to his brand new restaurant. Nearly forty people packed into the establishment to sample the two custom house beers, Pink Bunny IPA and Sawtown Lager. The celebrations continued with a local dance crew performing a variety of moves for the crowd’s enjoyment. Throughout the course of the day dozens of people stopped in to check out the restaurant and support Tacony’s newest destination business. Sawtown Tavern is planning on adding a food section to their menu that will emphasize quality craft pizza in addition to their top flight drinks. They hope to be serving pizza by Labor Day weekend.

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Sawtown Tavern is a joint venture between owners Troy Everwine and Mike Scotese. It is located at 4717-19 Princeton Avenue, right in the heart of Tacony. Make sure to visit their website sawtown.com, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for latest updates on everything Sawtown.

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