Above is a rendering of What Centennial Village complex will look like.
Story by Manuel Smith
Since our launch in 2013, The Parkside Journal has covered the growing interest and literal rising-up of new construction, new activities, & new interest in our neighborhood. We remember the days when adding a new coat of paint to a home on the block was big news. Now some of these same homes are undergoing major renovations, while new projects are being built on land that was long vacant. Like our neighbors, we’re celebrating this time of good fortune and progress for our area. Renewed attention from city leaders, realtors, and new neighbors in Parkside has been a long time coming, and we’re happy to see long-time promises of investments and new infrastructure come to light. But also like our neighbors, we’re concerned about how all of the new construction, new infrastructure, and new neighbors will affect us. Will these new projects affect our homes and their value? Will I still be able to afford to live close to my neighbors in the years to come? Will all of these new projects bring new opportunities for my family and friends? Will I still be able to enjoy my quality of life in Parkside?
These questions are legitimate. And to be honest, we don’t have all of the answers. No one does. That gets to the heart of why our Publisher, Michael Burch, launched The Parkside Journal in the first place. It was to ensure that we, as neighbors, are informed about all of the changes that are occurring in our community, and that we’re able to hear first about projects that we’ll want to support in the future. With this in mind, here is a list of nine projects under development, that we are aware of. These are by no means the only projects currently underway, merely the ones we are know about.
A list of nine projects to watch in Parkside for the upcoming year. These projects (and sometimes events), listed in no particular order are ones that promise great change for our neighborhood in the upcoming year. We’ll also give you our take on why they’re important and the reasons we’ll be following their progress closely.
We hope you will save and share this list with your neighbors and friends. And that you’ll help us keep on top of these developments and others by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll get through this time of progress and change together, just like Parkside neighbors have always done.
Centennial Village/52nd. & Parkside
The plan: A mixed use development that is completely transforming West Parkside, with nearly 50 new apartments and retail spaces expected to come online in the Spring of 2018. However, it is expected that most of the buildings will be finished by the end of this year. People are booking into the housing units now. They have received over 200 applications for housing, most coming from the Parkside area. There is a long wait list at this time.
The Journal’s Take: We’re excited about this latest remake of West Parkside and glad that the developers are making this inclusive, with affordable apartments being made available.
EMSCO New Headquarters/Near 49th and Parkside
The Plan: The minority-owned firm that provides products and services to the scientific community plans construction of a $10 million dollar new headquarters building.
The Journal’s Take: Keeping our neighborhood business-friendly is the way to keep jobs and opportunities for development in our neighborhood. There’s still room for more business development in Parkside. If this project goes well, hopefully others will follow.
Centennial Commons/Parkside Edge/Along Parkside Journal
The plan: The Parkside Edge is the first of a two phase project called Centennial Commons. This project is the vision of the Park Conservancy. This is about more than just new swings, seats, and benches in the park. This project is improving community connections to the park through new crosswalks, bike lanes, and other improvements along Parkside to make it easier to access the park. Phase 1 will be completed in the spring of 2018.
The Journal’s Take: Our proximity to Fairmount Park is one of the neighborhoods’ biggest assets. We’re in support of anything that makes access to the park safer, especially for seniors and youth. This development is a game changer for Parkside.
Please Touch Museum Outdoor Expansion The plan: PTM recently received a design grant award from the Community Design Collaborative to create plans for a state-of-the-art expansion of the outdoor Please Touch Garden. The new area will include interactive play & programming space designed to engage and delight children in nature and provide opportunities for STEM learning.
The Journal’s Take: Fundraising for this project is scheduled to kick off soon, and we’re encouraged with the community outreach PTM has already done before shovels even hit the ground. They are showing that community input is valuable to their programs.
School Reform Commission Dissolved
The Plan: Just before Thanksgiving, the SRC voted to dissolve, with the Mayor and City Council set to elect a locally controlled school board in the coming year.
The Journal’s Take: Parkside is home to at least two large charter schools already. Plus a new school from KIPP is projected to open on Parkside Avenue soon. Will a new school board approve more? Will these educational options change or improve for the students in our neighborhood?
Zoo New Main Restaurant/Philadelphia Zoo
The Plan: Officials from the Zoo are promoting a multi million dollar investment program, in which the start would be a new grand restaurant near the Zoo’s entrance that would also host special events and have evening access for the public.
The Journal’s Take: While final design is still underway, the Journal is encouraged by the community engagement on this idea already being led by Zoo Vice President Kenneth Woodson. There’s also the promise of more employment opportunities at the restaurant for neighborhood residents, plus a brand-new destination to take guests out to dinner!
Lancaster Avenue Redevelopments/Lancaster Avenue
The Plan: The People’s Emergency Center (PEC), has a long track record of building, maintaining, and supporting affordable housing options in West Philadelphia. Recently the community development arm announced a focus on five neighborhoods, Saunders Park, West Powelton, Belmont, Mantua, and Mill Creek.
The Journal’s Take: We’re excited to see this neighborhood corridor become invigorated with new life. Any additional marketing, planning, and support to keep the corridor alive is good for us all. PEC is off to a great start with http://www.lancasteravephilly.com/ which promotes the avenue as a destination.
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden/Lansdowne Drive and Horticultural Drive
The Plan: We believe one of the park’s hidden gems, right in our backyard, has been underrated for a long time. The team there has been working on building a superior calendar of special events along with additional community outreach to make the center more accessible than ever.
The Journal’s Take: This December, Shofuso extended their season to include new weekend hours through December 10. They will also host a Japanese New Year (Oshogatsu) event with fresh greenery, traditional decorations, and a winter kimono display. Complimentary green tea and slippers will be available to guests and free tours will share Japanese holiday traditions. Admission is only $2 for ACCESS Card holders, and free for active duty military members and children under
Ucity Square & Schuylkill Yards The Plan: These two massive projects, at a cost of more than $3 Billion dollars, plan to remake two large portions of West Philadelphia, bringing more office and apartment spaces to the area. Both sites were formally pitched to Amazon by the city as potential location for their HQ2 plan.
The Journal’s Take: If 50,000 new jobs immediately came to this area, you can imagine what that might do to our property values, not to mention traffic and congestion woes. We’ll watch to see what occurs.
Former Mutual Life Building Development/46th & Market Street
The Plan: Like the rest of West Philadelphia, we were disappointed in the Kenney Administration’s cancellation of the $200 million dollar-plus plan to relocate the headquarters of the police department here in favor of a new location in Center City. The promise of new jobs and activity on this long dormant corner will have to wait even longer.
The Journal’s Take: We’re cautiously optimistic here. Kudos to Mayor Kenney to being open about the process for future developments here. At a recent Spruce Hill community meeting, he says that the city is on track with choosing a new developer by April 2018. He also added that local and minority workers will be hired on any construction that will eventually occur there.