Looking Back at 2014: A Year of Major Milestones for the Tacony Community Development Corporation

As we approach the end of 2014 this is a great opportunity to look back at the incredible hard work and achievements of the Tacony Community Development Corporation over the past year. We could not have achieved this incredible amount of work without our volunteers, work study students, board of trustees, partners, and staff. 2014 marked some major milestones for our neighborhood listed below.

Design:

Wellens signature awnings received the "Awesome Awnings" award. Our storefront achievements were dynamic in creating a culture of investment on Torresdale Ave

Wellens signature awnings received the “Awesome Awnings” award. Our storefront achievements were dynamic in creating a culture of investment on Torresdale Ave

Promotion:

  • Celebrated the first birthday of the Hoagie Trail, an award-winning promotion linking some of our city’s best hoagie shops located right here in the Tacony neighborhood.
  • Completed merchant spotlight interviews to “meet” our business owners directly online.
  • Partnered with Councilman Henon for FallFest a large-scale neighborhood street festival.
  • Participated in Small Business Saturday on November 29th with 11 participating small businesses.
  • Partnered with the Free Library of Philadelphia Tacony Branch and the Tacony Civic Association for the Winterfest special event at the Tacony Library.
Zach Lashway of phl17 celebrating the Hoagie Trail Birthday with King Fink!

Zach Lashway of phl17 celebrating the Hoagie Trail Birthday with King Fink!

Organization:

  • Continued to develop and retain a dynamic Board of Trustees to guide the Tacony Community Development Corporation.
  • 93 new members joined the Tacony CDC to help fund new security cameras and regular cleaning on Torresdale Ave. Memberships raised more than $3000 in new contributions to fund these efforts.
  • Completed a merchant and resident satisfaction survey to guide efforts over the next year and address important issues.
  • Received awards for outstanding storefront designs, and our Manager Alex Balloon received the Corridor Catalyst Award from the City’s Storefront Challenge.
  • Convened Merchant Group to explore ways to foster a business association for networking and peer-to-peer idea exchange.
  • Completed a 10-year Community Development Corporation Tax Credit Partnership with Waste Management of Pennsylvania, bringing $850,000 to support our neighborhood revitalization efforts.
  • Received a competitive Targeted Corridor Management Grant from the Philadelphia Commerce Department to support our corridor revitalization efforts.
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. Waste Management partnered with the Tacony CDC to bring $850,000 over the next ten years in neighborhood revitalization.

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. Waste Management partnered with the Tacony CDC to bring $850,000 over the next ten years in neighborhood revitalization.

Clean & Safe:

Torresdale Ave has more cameras than any other time in its history. The Philadelphia Police know the location of these cameras and can access footage to help reduce crime in our area. These cameras not only reduce crime they also help to prevent it.

Torresdale Ave has more cameras than any other time in its history. The Philadelphia Police know the location of these cameras and can access footage to help reduce crime in our area. These cameras not only reduce crime they also help to prevent it.

Economic Improvement:

  • Supported the nomination of the National Register Historic District for the Disston Estate area of Tacony. When approved this will bring new eligibility for Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits for eligible income-producing properties.
  • Completed business recruitment package, and reached out to realtors and targeted new businesses that may consider locating on Torresdale Ave.
  • Assisted in the grand opening of Anthony’s Cafe Espresso at 4741 Princeton Ave
  • Assisted in moving targeted foreclosed properties back on the market, working with both banks and real estate agents.
  • Assisted with the business planning and recruitment of the new SawTown Tavern at the old Prince Cafe located near Torresdale Ave and Princeton Ave.
  • Pasiano’s recently reopened at 7100 Tulip St with a new Italian and Filipino menu.

The SawTown Tavern will be a destination restaraunt with craft pizza and beer. It will also serve as a gathering space in our neighborhood.

 

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Shoppers Shop Small in Tacony

We would like to take a moment to thank all our merchants and shoppers that participated in Tacony’s 2nd annual Small Business Saturday. Our ten participating business offered specials and deals ranging from modest $1 coffee to 25% off your entire purchase. To enhance the experience merchants rewarded shoppers with canvas bags, pins, and bandanas that were given to us courtesy of American Express.

As we have done with similar events we utilized traditional and digital media advertising to draw attention to Small Business Saturday.  On the Wednesday leading up to the event we ran a full-page ad in the Northeast Times touting the participating business and their specials which reached 50,000 people. This ad help drive our mission by promoting Tacony as a destination shopping district and spread the word about our ongoing revitalization. We also ran a social media campaign during the two weeks leading up to the event. For the campaign we took photos of each of our participating merchants with a Shop Small sign.  Over the days leading up to the event we sent these photos and other shop small promotional material through every one of the CDC’s digital platforms. Through these platforms we reached nearly 20,000 people.

RubinoSBS

The line at Runbino’s for Small Business Saturday

On small business Saturday many merchants experienced a modest increase in foot traffic to their shop for the day. Based on our estimates Rubino’s had the highest amount of foot traffic with approximately 30 people stopping into their shop during the course of the day.  The shop that saw the largest increase in total traffic was Sportmaster Bait and Tackle all the way at the corner of Ditman and Robbins. They quadrupled their average off season in store purchases for one day with nearly 15 people stopping into the store.  In total we estimate 150 shopped in Tacony on Small Business Saturday.

Once again we would like to thank all our participating merchants and shoppers for making this event a success and we look forward to finding new and fun ways to promote Tacony’s small businesses. We’d also like to thank American Express for providing us with free promotional material to give out to our merchants and customers.

By: Christian Regosch

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Join Us for Winterfest at the Tacony Library Saturday December 6th 11AM-3PM

There’s lots to check out this Saturday at the Tacony Library! There will be a DJ, holiday food, music, kids’ activities, historical displays, and Santa will make a visit.

It’s sure to be a fun event this Saturday at Winterfest.

Between 11:30 and 12:30 meeting artist Benjamin Volta and architect Jim Keller. They will give a community update on the artwork and renovations planned as part of the 21st Century Libraries Initiative. Benjamin has spent a lot of time learning about our community and checking out our neighborhood’s rich history. Thank you to our event partners: Tacony Historical Society, Tacony Civic Association, and the Free Library of Philadelphia Tacony Branch.

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Housing Market Update

As many of you know we have spent a lot of time focusing our efforts on Torresdale Avenue, implementing store and streetscape improvements to draw positive attention and development to Tacony. The majority of our organization’s funding structure cannot be used for housing development. We have improved commercial buildings with apartments above (commonly called mixed-use buildings), and buildings on Torresdale Ave are mixed between commercial buildings and homes. Because of this focus some residents have asked us how these projects benefit the entire community.  The following snapshot provides a look into the housing market of Tacony beginning in 2010 when the economy began to recover from the housing crisis. Although there are many factors in play when we look at housing, many of which are outside of our local neighborhood development corporation’s control, this will tell us how conditions are changing outside of Torresdale Ave.

Many homes in Tacony show neighborhood pride.

Many homes in Tacony show neighborhood pride.

To do this analysis we looked at Tacony’s four main census areas to paint a picture of our housing market. When then examined rental rates, home value, building age and occupancy rates to showcase our strengths, challenges, and opportunities. Our data came from the U.S Census’s American Community Survey for the years 2010-2012. We then compared these years or used the 2012 estimate to give a snapshot of the current housing market in Tacony. This article analyzed data for the 19135 zip code to explore other challenges our housing market faces.

Growing Market

Housing in Tacony is improving in several key areas; residential rental rates have increased by $57, rising from $876 dollars in 2010 to $933 in 2012 . This is a modest increase in rent but it tells us people are starting to place a greater value on living in Tacony. Again we see positive trends with actual home owners with our owner occupied housing rate increasing nearly 2% over this time period.  Also encouraging is there are 9401 housing units in Tacony which is a slight increase from 9320 in 2010.  Coupled with this increase in rental rates, owner occupancy, and new homes we find the family size of owner occupied homes and renter occupied homes have both increased, 3% and 5% respectively.  This means new families are moving into our neighborhood. All of these facts point to a housing market that is starting to open its doors to new growth.

Rents in Tacony are growing.

Rents in Tacony are growing.

Challenges

Even with our recent gains Tacony’s housing market still faces some challenges. The most telling one is that our housing stock is old. Only three percent of our houses were built after 1970, while a third of our houses were built before 1939.  The old housing stock may present maintenance challenges for potential owners.  Older homes often require more money to provide proper upkeep for the structure.

But this is not a complete downside. Even though these older buildings may cost more money to repair, older buildings tend have better character and more curb appeal than modern cookie-cutter residential units. It’s why Tacony was recognized as a great opportunity for homeowners by “this Old House” magazine. These homes present a great historic preservation opportunity that can enhance our neighborhood.  Our older housing stock presents some upfront maintenance issues with cost but still is a valuable opportunity.

Historic homes can present maintenance challenges to homeowners.

Historic homes can present maintenance challenges to homeowners.

Homes Within Reach

Despite modestly increasing rents median household value has fluctuated around $119,000 over this three year period. This is a great opportunity. Decreasing vacancy means the market is getting stronger, but Tacony still is highly affordable for potential home owners.         

Median

Foreclosures and Bank-Owned Properties

Tacony was not immune from the foreclosure crisis triggered by the last recession.  This has left lasting impacts on Tacony’s housing market. 289 buildings are in some form of foreclosure in the 19135 zip code meaning it will take some time for these properties to complete the judicial proceedings and sale process. Our CDC has received many calls about vacant and foreclosed properties and have followed up with maintenance servicing companies to hold them accountable for maintaining these properties: ensuring the property is secured, grass is cut, and the buildings are not dangerous. We have partnered with the Department of Licenses and Inspections, Community Life Improvement Program, and Tacony Civic Association.

Housing in Tacony is stabilizing from massive market challenges related to the national recession. While we lag other areas of the city our housing market is improving and will continue to stabilize. We work closely with the Tacony Civic Association and other partners to welcome new residents and continue to grow our neighborhood.

by Christian Regosch

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Philadelphia Gas Works Replaces Gas Mains on Torresdale Ave

The Philadelphia Gas Works is replacing gas mains along a selected section Torresdale Ave. Traffic may be diverted at times around the 6700-6800 blocks of Torresdale Ave to accommodate the gas main replacement. Here is the project information and locations of the work planned by PGW.

Affected Areas:

  • 6700-6800 Torresdale
  • 6700 Van Dike Street
  • 6700-6800 Hegerman Street
  • 6800 Edmund Street
  • 4700-4800 Rawle Street

Project Dates:
Start: Sep 17, 2014
End: Dec 22, 2014
Work Hours: Work Hours: M-F, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for most of the project

This work replaces the utility’s aging gas main system.

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Join us for Tacony Small Business Saturday on November 29th

The Tacony CDC is thrilled to be a Small Business Saturday Champion and part of American Express’s National Small Business Saturday Campaign.  For our small business event the Tacony CDC, under the umbrella of ShopTacony, is organizing a community wide advertising campaign for our businesses that are participating in small business Saturday. Participating merchants will receive free advertisement in the Northeast Times, our social media platforms, as well as other promotional material.  In exchange for our services participating merchants will offer discounts on various products and services on this one day.

Why Shop Small Infographic

What’s being offered?

On Saturday November 29th nearly a dozen businesses are participating in this event, including Bulls Eye Darts, Wellen’s Hosiery, Sportsmaster Bait and Tackle, and Denofa’s Italian Deli. Discounts range from 20% percent off gifts and clothes at FM Mart to $1 CD, Books, DVDs, and PS2 games at Philly Media. For a full list of participating businesses and discounts please visit the event’s ShopTacony page. If you choose to Shop small at one of the participating businesses you may receive a bag full of shop small memorabilia.

Banner_OurNeighborhood

How you can save.

Each store is already offering select discounts on products and services, meaning you save right out of the gate.  But as mentioned earlier this is a part of American Expresses National Shop Small campaign. This means when you shop at a participating business that takes American Express you will receive a ten dollar rebate (up to 30 dollars) for each purchase over 10 ten dollars.  So buy ten pounds of Denofa’s deli products, 20 items at Philly media, get your computer cleaned up at Computer guy and get back 30 dollars. We look forward to seeing you on Torresdale Avenue on November 29th.

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Join Us for a Merchant Breakfast Meet Up: Tuesday, Nov 18th at 9AM at Anthony’s Cafe Espresso

If you are a Tacony merchant or business please join us for a Merchant Breakfast Meet Up Tuesday, Nov 18th at 9AM at Anthony’s Cafe Espresso. Free Coffee and Pastries will be served and we will discuss ways to better work together. Please call or e-mail Alex Balloon, manager at alex@taconycdc.org or 215-501-7799 to reserve your space. The event will take place at Anthony’s Cafe Espresso 4741 Princeton Ave Philadelphia, PA 19135

Tacony Logo

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Tacony Businesses and CDC Win Awards

Last week the Tacony CDC was thrilled that two area stores were recognized by the City’s Commerce Department and the Community Design Collaborative Storefront Challenge 2014 for best practices in storefront design. Wellen’s Hosiery won best awning design and FM Mart won the “Simple Storefront” award at the 2014 Storefront Challenge Awards. Both businesses utilized the Commerce Department’s Storefront Improvement Program to financially support these façade improvements. The Tacony CDC assisted both stores with the application, design, and construction process to help achieve maximum impact for dollars spent. These stores are 2 of 15 we’ve helped redesign since 2012 and we hope to improve an additional 11 stores by next fall.

Wellens signature awnings received the "Awesome Awnings" award.

Wellens signature awnings received the “Awesome Awnings” award.

The biggest surprise came when our own Corridor Manager, Alex Balloon, received the Corridor Catalyst award. This award is given to an individual that represents best design and business practices in corridor revitalization. We could not be happier that Alex’s hard work has been recognized by Philadelphia’s redevelopment community.

The project restored the historic signage, added better windows, and a distinctive awning to welcome customers. Better merchandise display was an essential part of the improvement plan.

The project restored the historic signage, added better windows, and a distinctive awning to welcome customers. Better merchandise display was an essential part of the improvement plan.

Check out Wellens, FM Mart, and all the other awesome winners from the 2014 Storefront challenge by reading this article from PlanPhilly.com.

Alex Balloon was honored by the Storefront Challenge with the "Corridor Catalyst" award.

Alex Balloon was honored by the Storefront Challenge with the “Corridor Catalyst” award.

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Tour of the Waste Management Material Recovery Facility (MRF) Here in Tacony

The heyday of the Disston Saw Works here in Tacony has long passed, but there are still local manufacturers here in our neighborhood. We were lucky to tour one at the Philadelphia Material Recovery Facility (MRF) operated by Waste Management. It’s a local facility located at 5109 Bleigh Ave. The MRF opened in 2010 as a large-scale single stream recycling facility designed to process mixed recyclables. This facility will help Waste Management achieve its corporate long-term goal of processing 20 million tons of recyclables by the year 2020. By moving to a single stream model, Waste Management increases recycling participation by making it easier for households and businesses to recycle. Single-stream recycling allows customers to place all their recyclables (paper, plastic, metals) into one bin and later Waste Management sorts them at the MRF. You can join us on a virtual tour (with better cinematography) here.

Inside the MRF

The MRF processes an amazing 20,000 tons of recyclables a month, is LEED-silver certified, and constructed on a brownfield site at a cost of $20 million. The site employs a number of individuals who live in and around the Tacony neighborhood.

Here’s a diagram of the how the MRF works.

Touring the MRF was an exciting experience. The whizzing conveyor belts, vacuums, machines, and employees made the process seem seamless.

Community Partner

We want to take time again to thank our Tax Credit and Community Partner Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc. Without their support we would be unable to provide our services such as new storefronts, corridor cleaning, small business support, new security initiatives, and other special projects. In addition to their tax partnership with the Tacony CDC Waste Management hosts job fairs and community events through the Tacony and Holmesburg Civic Associations, and supports the Delaware River City Corporation. Join them for a spring cleanup in Pennypack Park.

We also want to give Patty Barthel a special thank-you for an amazing tour of the Philadelphia MRF. For more information visit wm.com

Some Recycling Tips

Here are some great resources that help you be a better recycler.

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Businesses Working Together: Small Projects Make Big Gains

By: Christian Regosch

A big part of community development is getting businesses to collaborate with each other to meet similar needs. Most of our resources are local and local economic development is strongest when we can get businesses working together. We recently helped facilitate a joint project between two of our strongest businesses Jack’s Place Hoagie Shop and Computer Guy.

Computer Guy specializes in all things computers, including hardware, software, and all forms of electronic and social media.  Recently Computer Guy expanded their service offerings to include video boards, viral videos and commercials. At the same time Jack’s Place recently upgraded their interior with a bold new paint scheme and TV monitor in order to showcase their products to patrons while they wait. Unfortunately a video board to showcase these products could cost a business more than $1000 to create and maintain so this idea was cost prohibitive project for Jack’s Place.

Seeing this chance for community collaboration we encouraged Computer Guy to work with Jack’s Place to frame out and create them a custom video board.  Computer Guy delivered Jack’s Place a completed video board at no cost. This project was a win for both parties involved, Jack’s Place will generate more revenue and Computer Guy built up their portfolio.  For our role Jack’s Place has agreed to let the CDC put promotional material about our services on the video board.

Check out the new Video Board at Jack's Place

Check out the new Video Board at Jack’s Place

We would like to thank board member and owner of Computer Guy Scott Degirolamo for providing this service to Jack’s Place.  Computer Guy is located at 6911 Torresdale Avenue and provides professional computer solutions to residential, commercial, and industrial clients.  Please stop into Jack’s Place to check out the new video board and try one of their delicious sandwiches or platters, located at 7167 Hegerman Street.

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