Nine Things To Look For In Parkside In 2019 – by Manuel McDonnell Smith

In 2018 – Parkside, Mantua, and Belmont overflowed with openings and ribbon cuttings as many long-promised development projects came to fruition. We celebrated the completion of renewed park spaces, play areas, and pedestrian improvements brought by the Parkside Edge project. The excitement over the new living and retail spaces at Centennial Village is still evident by a rental waiting list that is said to be years-long, showing that quality, affordable housing in our area remains a strong desire from residents. And the world watched as a new mural of hometown boy gone global, Will Smith, was painted on Girard Avenue. As much as we’re excited for what’s to come in 2019 with our list of nine projects below – the editorial team of The Parkside Journal would love to see more private and institutional investment begin to flow into our neighborhoods.

Much of the development work that is scheduled is funded by government entities, these are deserved dollars which are finally flowing to our areas after years of neglect. These projects will do much to improve our communities, but private dollars are the ones that will make the most impact, especially on our inside blocks where most residents live. What we hope for is a balance of development and progress, where developers and residents work together, for an improved quality-of-life for all in our neighborhoods. With a cadre of strong community groups and eager residents willing to partner and talk, here’s another official signal that our neighborhoods are ready for the future.

DaVita Care Center– construction underway – Construction is nearly complete on a new medical use facility in the 4900 block of Parkside Avenue at 50th Street. The facility will be leased and managed by Davita, which operates a large network of kidney and general medical care clinics. The opening date for the facility, which will also have its own private 30-space parking lot, is not yet known.

Medicare-Centered Medical Centers – 5050 Parkside Avenue & Parkwest Town Center – A local branch of national health care chain Oak Street Health recently opened at 5050 Parkside Avenue. Services there are aimed at Medicare patients who will have access to transportation to and from the center, individualized treatment plans, longer-than-average appointments and community-centered support that goes beyond symptom treatment according to a press release. “Dedicated Senior Medical Center”, a medical chain with similar goals and focus on Medicare patients also opened this fall inside of the Park West Town Center in the former pet shop location.

Lansdowne & Montgomery Creek Restoration – Fairmount Park – Following up on its successful Centennial Commons project along Parkside Avenue, the Fairmount Park Conservancy is working on restoring the two small creeks that wind their way through the park and horticultural center. Many people noticed the removal of invasive and non-native trees removed from the areas around Lansdowne Glen & Michaux Grove. Pedestrian friendly gates were then installed to keep out deer. In fall 2019, plans call for native species will be planted on the grounds in hopes of increasing plant diversity, improve wildlife habitat, and making the grounds around the Horticulture Center that more beautiful.

Mantua Greenway – Phase I construction scheduled for spring 2020 – Fundraising is still underway to complete a proposed “greenway” that will follow Mantua Avenue and Parrish Street, from the Spring Garden Bridge at 31st Street over to the 40th Street Bridge. The project was inspired by the efforts of Bessie Washington, a lifetime resident who lives on Mantua Avenue who was tired of seeing overgrown weeds along the railroad tracks. A community group meets monthly to work on progress. www.mantuagreenway.org

East Parkside Green Stormwater Project – projects to begin early summer 2019 – The Philadelphia Water Department is working on public outreach on a series of nearly twenty planned green stormwater infrastructure projects scheduled to begin construction in the Parkside neighborhood between 38th and 41st streets by summer 2019. These projects including tree trenches and curb bumpouts are designed to capture rainwater runoff and prevent water overflow into the nearby Schuylkill. Neighbors should expect about a month’s disruption with parking and work crews while construction on each project progresses.

West Philadelphia Community Center – redevelopment plans in progress – This past June, Drexel University announced its purchase of The West Philadelphia Community Center (WPCC), a two-story, 37,000-square-foot facility at 3512 Haverford Avenue in Mantua. Caring People Alliance (CPA) previously owned & operated the space but has announced that they will be relocating to another facility. According to the University, current programs by CPA will continue at the WPCC for another year, while the University works with local residents to determine how the facility can best address community interests in conjunction with its Dornslife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Rebuild Philadelphia – four sites selected in Parkside, Mantua & Fairmount Park – ReBuild is Mayor Jim Kenney’s initiative to invest millions of dollars to improve neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries across the city. Funding for these projects comes directly from the Philadelphia Beverage Tax (a.k.a. “Soda Tax). The city has just begun releasing funds for the projects this year after a legal battle over the tax was upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The four rebuild sites selected in our area include:

  • Carousel House 1701 Belmont Avenue
  • Parkside Fields West Fairmount Park
  • West Mill Creek Playground 5100 Westminster Avenue Miles Mack Playground 732-66 N 36th Street

46th and Market Street Redevelopment: Potential opening: 2019: The latest white-knights of the saga of the redevelopment for the building that was once slated to be the new home of the Police Department is a partnership between development firm Iron SStone and the Public Health Management Corp. (PHMC). Published plans for the site include a federally funded health center that will provide primary care and dental services and a 20- to 30-bed overnight site. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is also said to be planning a children’s mental health services center along with a daycare center possibly operated by the YMCA.

Additional retail construction could also occur along Market and 46th Streets along the site’s perimeter. Plans are still in progress.

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