Centennial Parkside CDC continues to grow with the addition of Mr. Chris Spahr as the new Executive Director of the CDC. Centennial Parkside has already been making positive strides in the community this year by recently receiving a grant from the, Department of Energy, to explore innovative projects that can bring solar energy development into the community. Please see our article on page 2 for more on that story. Chris has only been with the CDC since January, having moved back here from Wisconsin with his wife and daughter, but he’s hit the ground running since then.
Chris was born in western Pa. but, as a child, he often visited family in the city of Philadelphia. It is here in Philadelphia that helped develop his interest in city planning. Chris is working towards his PhD. In Urban and Regional planning from the University of Wisconsin. He brings that skill set to the Parkside region. In addition to working on the new solar grant, Chris will also be overseeing the renovations currently going on at their new headquarters in the Letitia House in Fairmount park. Letitia house is a small historic house that Parkside residents have probably walked or driven by many times and did not notice.
The house is small but it has a big history in Philadelphia. It is believed that the house was once owned by William Penn’s daughter. It’s another of these hidden gems in Fairmount Park. The house has been in its current location, near the zoo, since the Centennial of 1876. It will now serve a new function as the hub of activities, for the area, as the new home of the Centennial Parkside CDC. Be on the lookout for notices of the grand opening of the building, planned for later this summer. I asked Chris what he would like to say to the residents of Parkside, here is his reply:
“I have always considered West Philadelphia as an important part of my personal history. East Parkside has its own history and is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city of Philadelphia. Thank you for the opportunity to serve such a vibrant place. I look forward to long conversations on front porches and in neighborhood playgrounds to learn more about the concerns and aspirations of the East Parkside community. I will do all that I can to provide support and leadership in helping East Parkside grow in a way that is supportive of the aspirations of the existing residents while also being welcoming to newcomers.”