Construction Update: July 28, 2014

From streets to storefronts, there is plenty of construction activity on Torresdale Avenue this summer. We would like to share a few brief updates on what’s happening and what’s to come.

On July 17, the Philadelphia Streets Department began street striping and sidewalk construction on Torresdale Avenue. Faded centerlines have been repainted yellow. Sidewalks have been marked with orange paint to denote where utilities improvements will be made.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Philadelphia Streets Department will also install new banners with our district logo on Torresdale Avenue. Trash cans will be installed at key intersections. These and more improvements compose the second phase of the Torresdale Avenue Project, sponsored by the Major Artery Revitalization Committee. Chris Creelman of the Office of Councilman Bobby Henon and Trevor Booz of the Philadelphia Streets Department Highway Construction Unit have been integral to this project.

Since our last construction update on April 9, three more storefronts have been completed: Bull’s Eye Darts, the Athenian, and New Station Pizza.

Bull's Eye Darts

Bull’s Eye Darts now has new security grilles, paint, and window graphics.

Athenian

The Athenian has a new, vibrant blue awning with crisp white letters.

Just this week, New Station Pizza installed a new awning. The appropriate fire engine red awning showcases New Station Pizza’s new logo – a classic steam locomotive.

Just last week, New Station Pizza installed a new awning. The appropriate fire engine red awning showcases New Station Pizza’s new logo – a classic steam locomotive.

Construction at 4707 Longshore Avenue is in full swing. The building’s historic details are being prepared for a fresh coat of paint. The new storefront will be painted mahogany red with azure blue and burnt orange accents in the traditional Victorian style.

Finally, construction at 6802 Torresdale Avenue is underway for a new seafood market. Customers will be able to have their seafood steamed or fried on the spot. Owner Amy Chen told us that the market will also sell fresh fruits and vegetables.

Follow our blog to get periodic updates on construction here in Tacony.

 

written by: Marie Suvansin

 

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Tacony Satisfaction Survey Closing Soon

It’s your last chance to have your views heard!

Our Tacony Satisfaction Survey is quickly coming to a close on Friday, July 21. To date, almost 50 residents, visitors, and merchants have responded to the brief, 5-minute survey.

Thank you to everyone who has completed the Tacony Satisfaction Survey so far. Your responses will help us benchmark our progress, as well as design future projects to improve our community!

To take the Tacony Satisfaction Survey, click here now.

 

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Tacony is Recruiting Businesses for Torresdale Avenue!

One of our work-study students, Audrey von Ahrens, has been working to put together a business recruitment package to help attract more businesses to the Torresdale Avenue commercial corridor. Statistics show that consumer demand is growing. The package highlights the demographics in the surrounding neighborhood and the existing business clusters. Market analysis shows the types of businesses that are needed in Tacony in order to fill the current retail gap and meet demand.

We note the many opportunities that are made available when locating a business in Tacony. These include assets such as its convenient location along I-95 and SEPTA’s Regional Rail Trenton line, the historic housing stock and Storefront Improvement Program as well as the many other grant and loan opportunities that TCDC assists property and storeowners in acquiring.

Along with the business recruitment package, we have reached out to property owners along Torresdale Avenue to inquire about their future plans for the properties and offer TCDC as a resource for recruiting tenants. A modified version of the package was also published in the Northeast Times.

With our newly planted trees, brand new striping on Torresdale Ave. and the first 16 storefront improvements almost done, the Avenue is looking great! We now expect the business recruitment package will help continue our efforts in bringing in new businesses such as a bakeries, restaurants and more specialty stores to the Avenue. We have high hopes for the future of Tacony!

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Check out the business recruitment package!

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“Truly Tacony” Business Spotlight: Brian Freifelder of Philadelphia Media Exchange

This series highlights local businesses along Torresdale Avenue that embrace what it means to be ‘Truly Tacony’. Brian Freifelder is the proud owner of Philadelphia Media Exchange, a retailer of DVDs, CDs, and video games at 6804 Torresdale Avenue.

Brian Freifelder owns Philadelphia Media Exchange on Torresdale Ave in Tacony

Brian Freifelder owns Philadelphia Media Exchange on Torresdale Ave in Tacony

How long have you been in business?

I have been selling online for 15 years and have had this storefront for 4.5 years. I also used to sell at the Quaker City Flea Market and Tacony Palmyra Flea Market.

Why did you get started in Tacony?

Before I had a storefront, I was trading at flea markets. I only worked on the weekends or when it wasn’t too cold to be outside. With this storefront, I can sell during the week and not have to worry about the weather.

What makes Tacony different than anywhere else in the city?

Tacony is a great place for doing business because there are so many potential customers. Pretty much all of my customers are local.

What do you like most about being located on Torresdale Avenue in Tacony?

I have the post office, Salvation Army, and a great seafood place down the street (Caribbean Seafood Inc). Almost everything I need to run my business is closeby. I-95 is really close, so my business is easy to get to.

What do you enjoy the most about your customers?

I enjoy how friendly my customers are. There are a lot of friendly people in this neighborhood.

What’s your favorite item or service that you sell?

My favorite item that I sell is video games. Everyone that works here is passionate about video games, movies, and music. Something that people might not know is that I also trade books and unopened board games.

What do you hope Tacony will look like in the future?

I look forward to Tacony becoming a safer and cleaner place. I know that there are organizations in the area already working to make this happen.

 

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We Need Your Feedback: Please Take the Tacony Satisfaction Survey

Here at the Tacony Community Development Corporation, we are working hard to create a more clean, safe, and vibrant environment for our community. In the past year, we completed projects aimed at reducing litter, discouraging graffiti, and bringing attention to our local businesses. We have also welcomed new businesses to formerly vacant spaces.

To help us measure our progress, we invite you to take the Tacony Satisfaction Survey. The anonymous survey consists of 12 questions organized under the following topics: Clean and Safe Streets, Shopping in Tacony, and Storefront Improvements. The survey only takes 5 minutes to complete. The more feedback we get, the better equipped we are to serve our community.

Please take a moment to complete the Tacony Satisfaction Survey now. Click here.

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Tacony CDC Announces Second Round of Storefront Improvements: Deadline to Apply is July 30th, 2014

The Tacony Community Development is excited to announce a second round of storefront improvements on Torresdale Ave in Tacony. This program builds on the success of our first round of storefront improvements. The guidelines for the program are described below.

We will be holding a public meeting for those interested to participate on Monday, July 14th, 2014 at 5PM at the Tacony Library at 6742 Torresdale Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19135. Please call 215-501-7799 or email alex@taconycdc.org to contact Alex Balloon in order to confirm your attendance. The meeting will last approximately 45 minutes and answer questions you may have. In addition the meeting will outline guidelines for participation.

The Storefront Program Provides:

  • Design Assistance and Consultation
  • Funding for Eligible Improvements
  • Paperwork Assistance
  • Bidding & Contracting Assistance
  • Project Management Assistance

Program Description:

The purpose of the Tacony Storefront Improvement Program is to improve the storefronts located in the Tacony Shopping District, making these storefronts more attractive to customers and clients. The program pays for up to 85% of eligible improvements for a maximum total project cost of either $16,000 for a single property or $24,000 for a corner or double property.

Eligible Applicants:

The Tacony Storefront Improvement Program has a limited number of project slots for storefront improvements. In order to be eligible the applicant must be a commercial property with a tenant or signed tenant lease located on the 6300-7200 blocks of Torresdale Ave. Properties located off Torresdale Avenue will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must be operating legally, licensed and registered with the City of Philadelphia and be current with all city taxes. Applicants must submit paperwork to be approved before work begins. Projects submitted after construction begins will not be eligible for reimbursement.

The Tacony CDC uses a historic preservation-based approach; eligible Improvements Include and are not Limited to:

  • Removal of Vinyl/Aluminum Siding
  • Masonry Repair & Cleaning
  • Painting
  • Window/Glazing
  • Exterior Door Replacement
  • Exterior Lighting
  • Signage & Awnings
  • Transparent Security Grilles

Evaluation Criteria:

Projects will be considered on a case by case basis, and awards are decided solely at the discretion of the Tacony CDC. The following criteria will be evaluated:

  • Relationship of the Business to the Corridor Vision as a Vibrant Main Street
  • Scope and Scale of Improvements and their Impact on the Corridor
  • Business Size & Stability
  • Physical Location & Position Within the Business District

Examples of Completed Projects:

We encourage potential applicants to see examples of successful projects at the following locations

  • Wellens Hosiery 7201 Torresdale Ave
  • Kavanagh’s Tobacco 6938 Torresdale Ave
  • East Coast Dental Lab 6936 Torresdale Ave
  • Bulls Eye Darts 6917 Torresdale Ave
  • Computer Guy 6911 Torresdale Ave

Project Example: DeNofa’s Deli

facadebeforeandafter

Bidding & Contracting:

If the design is accepted, in order to improve construction quality and efficiency, the Tacony CDC will manage a bidding and contracting process to minimize construction and contracting risk. The CDC uses a Façade Agreement that outlines roles and responsibilities and payment procedures to be signed by the applicant, CDC representative, and contractor. A participant can choose to manage their own bidding and contracting process, but reimbursement grants will only be paid when work is 100% completed. Reimbursement will be issued as checks from the City of Philadelphia and the Tacony CDC.

Funding Structure:

Applicant Cost: 15%

City of Philadelphia: 50%

Tacony CDC: 35%

Disclaimers & Notes on Participation:

Ultimate review and decision-making rests solely with the Tacony Community Development Corporation. The program does not fund solid security grates, vinyl awnings, synthetic stucco, reduction of storefront openings, and covering of original building details. Bars are ineligible to participate

To participate in this program please contact Alex Balloon, manager of the Tacony CDC at 215-501-7799 or e-mail alex@taconycdc.org to discuss your potential participation. An application page is attached to these guidelines. Download the guidelines.

Deadline:   Deadline to submit a completed application is July 30th, 2014.

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Torresdale Ave Project Set to Begin July 17th

The Philadelphia Streets Department is set to begin construction on improvements sidewalks and other public spaces along Torresdale Ave in Tacony on July 17th. Look for improved sidewalks, Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant crosswalks, new banners, and new trash cans at key intersections. Work is set to be completed by November 2014. The Tacony CDC will provide updates about the progress, and also provide guidance for additional parking areas during the construction period. We’re excited to complete this improvement project to build on our program’s success.

Our district logo will be displayed on prominent banners along the corridor to reinforce our district brand.

Our district logo will be displayed on prominent banners along the corridor to reinforce our district brand.

The new banners will include the district logo. We have been working closely with Chris Creelman of the Office of Councilman Bobby Henon and Trevor Booz of the Philadelphia Streets Department Highway Construction Unit. We would like to thank them for their coordination during this project. Our recently planted trees will not be disturbed during the project.

This project is the second phase of the Torresdale Avenue Project, sponsored by the Major Artery Revitalization Committee. The total cost of this second phase is $1.7 million with funding provided by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, State Senator Mike Stack, and State Representative Michael McGeehan.

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The Ball Keeps Rolling: Economic Analysis says Tacony Continues to Grow

by Christian Regosch

Back in September we highlighted the economic improvement we’ve help lead over the past three years for Tacony. We found that our work created 32 jobs and fostered over 1.2 million dollars in public and private investment along our section of the Torresdale Avenue Commercial Corridor. Since that time we’ve notice an overall uptick in property conditions, cleanliness, and attitude from our businesses and residents.   As we near completion of the first phase of the storefront improvement program and with another nine months under our belts we felt it was appropriate to see what we’ve accomplished and where our new investment is heading.

photo

Public Investment Leads the Charge

Our hallmark program has been the storefront improvement program where we’ve helped 15 stores upgrade their fronts, mostly concentrated in the northern section of Torresdale Avenue. The biggest impact of this program can be seen at the 6900 block of Torresdale Avenue where four of the six stores have upgraded their storefronts making a clean and inviting place to shop and walk. In the upcoming months we’ll begin to work with businesses in other sections of the Torresdale Avenue corridor to create the same effect. We estimate that this second phase of the store front improvement program will bring in another 1 million dollars to our community resulting in nearly 2 million dollars of investment over this entire 4 year period.

In addition to storefront improvement we have moved to recapture Torresdale Avenue’s historic tree canopy by planting new trees along the avenue. The previous canopy was poorly maintained and eventually withered away destroying one of Tacony’s best aesthetic features. The tree plantings had a start-up cost of 5,000 dollars, and in twenty years we’ll hopefully reap its rewards. Also we have new lamp banners and sidewalk improvements coming to our avenue. These banners and sidewalk improvements will make Tacony more walkable and inviting completing another small step to our long-term vision for the neighborhood.

Private Investment is Picking Up

The biggest take away from our recent economic analysis is that private business investment is starting to pick up. We estimate that private businesses have spent over $360,000 along our corridor over the past nine months alone.  This is major boost for our community for two reasons. First private money comes as no cost to the tax payer, meaning money can now be directed to other issues throughout the city and our community.

Secondly, more private investment means more people are seeing the assets and potential of Tacony. Our effective vacancy rate is near an all-time low, meaning more businesses are looking to our area as one that is growing and can help their bottom line. Eight new businesses are opening or planning to open in the near future, giving us a net gain of 5 businesses over this time period. This private investment is a true realization of our efforts and that other people and businesses are buying into our vision of Tacony.

New Businesses are Making Jobs

One of the best things about increased investment is it leads to new jobs and opportunities for residents. Over the past nine months 5 new businesses have brought in 24 new jobs to Tacony, resulting in more people walking our avenue, and potentially spending money at other businesses. Also these new opportunities help stabilize our community making it attractive for further development and investment.

With all our success we did lose three businesses along the avenue resulting in 4 jobs lost. Although it’s never good to see a business closed down we  still had a positive net gain in businesses and jobs . Our efforts have made Tacony a more resilient place to do business and a better place to live.

Conclusion

Through our work with the city, our local business owners, and residents the Tacony CDC has been able to spur an estimated investment of 1.35 million dollars over the past nine months and for the duration of the second phase of our store front improvement program.  We can see that our community is building steam to the larger revitalization of Tacony from a place that encourages lack of investment to one that spurs investment.

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Meet the New Work-Study Students at Tacony CDC!

It’s that time of the year again! This week, we welcomed two new work-study students for summer 2014: Marie Suvansin and Audrey von Ahrens. They will be conducting surveys, assisting with the storefront improvement program, and revamping the Golden Broom Awards. If you see them walking around the neighborhood, be sure to say “Hi!”

From Audrey:

Being from the suburbs of Philadelphia, I was really excited to move into the city to start my graduate career at UPenn last August. I am studying both Historic Preservation and City Planning which makes Tacony a really great place for me to be! I am excited to start working with the community and getting to know many of the residents and business owners.

From Marie:

My name is Marie, and I’m originally from California. I moved to Philadelphia last year to study city planning at the University of Pennsylvania. Within city planning, I am most interested in commercial corridor revitalization. It is this interest that brought me to Tacony, where I am looking forward to learning first-hand how to help residents and business owners improve their community.

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Tacony CDC Celebrates Completion of 15 Storefronts and New Partnership with Waste Management

The beautiful weather capped off a wonderful ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday on Torresdale Ave. Here’s a media round-up and some photos from the special event.

Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz cuts the ribbon to celebrate the completion of 15 storefronts. From left to right Alex Balloon, Tacony CDC; Councilman Bobby Henon; Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz; Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger; Jim Van Woert Waste Management.

Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz cuts the ribbon to celebrate the completion of 15 storefronts. From left to right Alex Balloon, Tacony CDC; Councilman Bobby Henon; Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz; Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger; Jim Van Woert Waste Management.

Philadelphia media outlets covered the event:

Tacony Puts Spotlight on Its Commercial Corridor Revitalization CBS Local

Tacony CDC Celebrates Spruced Up Storefronts PlanPhilly & Inquirer.com

Tacony to get $850000 for neighborhood investment Philadelphia Business Journal

Deputy Mayor Greenberger Unveils Investment in Small Businesses, Neighborhood Commercial Corridors City of Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

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