On the heels of becoming a Blue-Ribbon award winner for a small
CDC by the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, Parkside Association President Lucinda Hudson is happy that the Parkside neighborhood will also soon be home to a Starbucks. Hudson described the coming of
Starbucks as “a long time coming.” She originally wanted to see the named brand coffee retailer at the corner of 52nd and Parkside sharing a lot with the long-awaited Centennial Village but was talked out of pursuing the venture because of the urban setting.
Now after the 2018 Center City incident at Starbucks, the company has instituted a new dedication to diversity specifically aimed at increasing its presence in urban settings. This spearheaded the decision to have a community store in Parkside. The new location will be in Park West Town Center adjacent to the Ashley Stewart
With a grand smile, Mrs. Hudson described the addition to the community as a “PLUS!” This location will serve as an “economic shot” to the area. Starbucks’ goal for community stores is to bring people together helping to provide education and employment opportunities and making a difference in peoples’ lives. It is Mrs.
Hudson’s hope that this store will support and teach individuals how to be managers. This site will also help to make current individuals who are unemployed gain employability with the hopes of obtaining higher paying jobs.
With the prospect of 10 positions being earmarked for individuals in the community, Hudson and the Parkside Association hopes that some of the job training that takes place will be dedicated to ex-offenders, using the model of the Parkside Shop Rite.
Concerns about traffic flow have been raised with the addition of new retail in coming to the neighborhood but, the Parkside Association and other stakeholders are on the job.
They are currently in talks with SEPTA and the streets department discussing traffic flow, bus routes, and the opening of new streets to divert traffic in other directions. While Starbucks is one of the more expensive coffee shops, the community feels that people will make this new location a success because of the quality of the product. This location will also be a place when residents can congregate to conduct meetings and socialize.
One of Mrs. Hudson’s mottos is “speak truth to power.” Over a decade ago, she had the vision to have a Starbucks in the community. Now, with the help of several organizations and groups, the Parkside neighborhood will have a coffee shop to buy quality products, aid in job training, and serve as a hub for positive social interactions.
The City of Philadelphia’s INDEGO Bike share program is up and running in Parkside. INDEGO is a network of public bikes that can be rented for short periods of time and is a fun and affordable way to get around the city. You can check out a bike at any station, ride to where you want to go, and return the bike to any station. A $15 a month membership gives you an unlimited number of 1 hour trips.
The staff at INGEGO has been hosting various discussions with Parkside residents at local public meetings since early September 2015. The purpose of these meetings has been to inform area residents about the coming program and to get feedback on the best locations for the bike stations.
By now many Parkside residents have noticed and may have used the INDEGO bikes at their stations along Parkside Avenue. For those who have not noticed them,the stations in Parkside can be found in three locations:
on the sidewalk in front of the Philadelphia Zoo
along Parkside Avenue near the School of the Future
in the 4200 block of Parkside Avenue near the Case Building next to the eastbound 38 bus stop.
Negotiations are currently underway for a fourth station. If all goes well that station will be in the Parkwest Shopping Center at 52nd and Jefferson Streets. In the future new stations may be set up at the Mann Music Center, the Pump Track or the Please Touch Museum.
It’s important to note that the two Parkside Avenue sites are located in temporary locations. This is mostly due to the upcoming construction of the Park Conservancy’s Parkside Edge project.
Parkside is an emerging community bustling with residents, businesses, and culture aficionados. It has undergone a number of transitions over the past several decades and continues to welcome changes that positively impact the community. One change, in particular, is the addition of the Brown family ShopRite located at 1575 N. 52nd. Street. Prior to the arrival of Brown’s ShopRite in 2008, the community was a food dessert with little to no access to fresh groceries or produce. In 2002, the Brown family partnered with the state’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative to bring healthy groceries to inner city neighborhoods. Brown’s Shop Rite was the answer to a 20-year cry for food justice in the Parkside community.
ShopRite Supermarkets is a co-operative chain of supermarkets that span across six northeastern states: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. With eleven stores in and around the Philadelphia area, the Brown’s pride themselves on a commitment to four brand pillars: authentic products, affordability, community responsibility, and the promise of an enjoyable shopping experience. The store has strong ties with local organizations such as the Parkside Business Association, Parkside Community Association, and Please Touch Museum.
“It is important to understand the people we serve and what’s going on in the community,” says Paul Brauer, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Brown Superstores.
By summer 2016, the Brown family intends to take the promise of an enjoyable shopping experience to a new level. Soon, the store will break ground on an innovative development plan that will include a 15, 000 square feet expansion toward Lowes. “With the rise of e-commerce, there is a need for more of a destination and entertainment space,” explains Brauer.
The development will encompass an upstairs mezzanine with 165 seats, stage, and sound system for live musical performances. Brown’s ShopRite will partner with Settlement Music School and 23rd Street Jazz Café to display a wide array of local talent. “The stage will be a place for people to practice their craft,” says Brauer.
There will also be a Chef’s table upstairs that will offer food for guests during performances as well as cooking classes for interested community members.
Patrons will have the option to dine and wine on the mezzanine or enjoy an open beer garden on the lower level. Other attractions include an open flame grilled chicken station, salad bar, and more food options.
“We want to bring more of a higher end experience at an affordable cost,” enthuses Brauer. “People want more places to go that are safe and inexpensive.”
The Brown family is endeavoring to do something that no other grocery store has done before. In addition to the many new attractions, Philadelphia’s only black owned talk radio station, WURD, will be making Brown’s ShopRite its new home. “This is the first time that a local supermarket has incorporated a stage, sound system, and broadcasting station,” prides Brauer. With the aim of becoming a one-stop destination for their 2-3 mile customer base, the store will also add a health clinic, pharmacy, and nutritionist.
This development will not only bring a new flare to the neighborhood, but also more employment opportunities for community members. Brauer predicts a rise from 280 to 300 job associates. He has a very positive outlook on the project and is eager to unveil Parkside’s coming inner city attraction.
Banana Pudding, Strawberry Shortcake, and Sweet Potato Pie. Home-style desserts we would have more often if it didn’t involve so much time in the kitchen. Now, a West Philly native is making these favorites available by the spoonful in your freezer.
Andre Andrews is the creator and owner of Dre’s Southern Style Ice Cream and Water Ice. He says the brand’s southern-style flavors are a “premium product that tastes better and costs less than the competitor.” Besides the flavors mentioned above, Dre’s pints also come in Butter Pralines, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Brownie Mint Chip.
Last year, his company closed a deal with Brown’s Family Shop Rite making the ice cream line available year-round in the chain’s locations at Park West Town Center, across Philadelphia, and in Camden, Delaware and even Baltimore. Although production is handled at a local plant, Andre makes time to visit each retail location on a regular basis to ensure proper merchandising and to introduce customers to the flavors. “I want people to know that this is a product that I would feed to my own family. It has no food coloring and no artificial flavoring”.
While the region is now getting their first chance at enjoying Dre’s flavors, they have been a staple of summer in West Philly since 2014 when Andre first started selling water ice from a pushcart. A missionary trip to Nicaragua inspired him to purchase a professional ice cream maker and grow the brand. Once the machine was delivered, he installed it in a garage and began creating and testing flavors. “I just started making my own product and giving away free samples until I found a perfect match of flavors”, he said.
Right now, Andre and his small staff of two are working to grow the brand and they have their eyes set on building a headquarters location in West Philadelphia in the future. For now, he’s hoping that in addition to delivering a premium product, he will be an inspiration to others to also follow their dreams. For those looking to do something different, the Overbrook High School graduate offers this recipe for success, “Just go out and do it. Be Fearless. Don’t be scared of failure. Just work hard and learn from your mistakes. Your success will be next to follow and when you finally achieve, be sure to make time to give back to someone who is less fortunate.”
Andre recently joined the PACTS (Partnership for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science) Alumni Board, at the Franklin Institute. He was a member of this group as a youth and now hopes to shape the future of other young people in the city.
Thirty years ago, James Burnett was a different person. He was a typical college student trying to navigate the uncertainties of life.
Today, he is the Executive Director of West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution (WPFSI). He also serves as a Board Member on a number of community organizations such as the Business Association of West Parkside, Philadelphia Parks Alliance, Mt.Vernon Manor, and Entrepreneur Works.
While thereare a series of events that led him to his current position, Burnett’s interest in finance and community development has not wavered. In high school, he witnessed the grave disparities that existed between poor and affluent neighborhoods and asked himself, “How can we make our communities more stable?”
Even at a young age, he understood that access to capital was the answer to that question. “Finance offers more flexibility,” says Burnett. “Having capital makes a difference.” In his current role, Burnett collaborates with key stakeholders in the community to generate greater economic sustainability for various West Philadelphia neighborhoods. He provides activity grants as well as scholarships for leaders seeking community development training. “I want to help the community impact itself,” says Burnett.
By providing resources and pertinent information, Burnett aims to help business entrepreneurs and community members make sound decisions. His institution offers seminars on budgeting, creating bank accounts, and the value of saving. His organization also runs a youth program known as Wes Gold Fellows—a paid high school internship that engages students in the areas of job readiness, financial education, college planning, and civic participation.
When asked about his greatest accomplishments as Executive Director of WPFSI, Burnett responds, “Watching people grow—getting young people to grow in their roles.” Currently, Burnett is preparing to launch a community planning and revitalization project in seven neighborhoods: Dunlap, Mill Creek, Cathedral Park, Carroll Park, Hestonville, and East and West Parkside. He stresses that this project is entirely collaborative as he will be partnering with CDCs, resident associations, and community stakeholders to assess and meet the specific needs of each community.
WPFSI is also collaborating with Global Leadership Academy, Discovery Charter School, and Philadelphia University to design a play space behind Lowes in Parkwest Town Center. Students from Global Leadership Academy and Discovery Charter School will brainstorm design concepts for the play space and then pass the baton to Philadelphia University students to develop a concrete plan.
Burnett approaches the community with a realist perspective and sees it evolving in either one of two ways: “People will begin to pay attention and get involved or our community will be developed around and over top of us.” He sees the potential influx of new residents as a growth opportunity rather than a threat. “We must engage quickly,” Burnett asserts.
He credits the resistance to change to a lack of trust from community members who have been taken advantage of or lied to in the past.
While he doesn’t negate the validity of these feelings, he says, community members “must be willing to have a conversation.” He encourages community members to be open to progressive change as well as take ownership of how their community expands and develops.
Burnett has come a long way from that “young college student,” but his appetite for people and development seems to only deepen with time.
According to him, the time to maximize land and capital potential is ripe and long overdue. To reach the offices of WPFSI call 215-452-0100.
Parkside is home and we each have personal reasons for why we consider it home. Some of us were born here…it is home. Others of us have moved here…it is home. Still others of us may not live here but we work here or we worship here or we play here… and so it is home.
These are just a sampling of the personal accounts that have galvanized a group of 14 community leaders over the last several months to create the Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation (CDC) to benefit all those that, for whatever reason, call Parkside home. I’ve been elected as President of the CDC and I’m honored and humbled to serve one of the truly special neighborhoods this city has to offer.
I must confess I didn’t always call Parkside home. My Grandfather, Bismark (“Bizzy”) Trotter, moved to this neighborhood in 1949 and he stayed here until his death almost 50 years later. I, however, was raised primarily in suburban North Carolina and that was my home.
But when I visited my Grandfather as a child, I always found myself fascinated by the neighborhood’s rhythms. Trips to Parkside meant seeing kids playing double-dutch in the street; that was one of the coolest things this suburban southern kid had ever seen. There was a palpable energy and vibrancy to the neighborhood, but I would not say I considered it home at that point.
Later in life, as a sophomore at the University of Virginia, I left college abruptly with no plan but to drive as long and as far away from college as possible; I wanted to drop out of college. I drove North, 7 hours later ultimately ending up at my Grandfather’s Parkside home, unannounced.
My Grandfather and I spent a joyful couple of days together, by the end of which he somehow convinced me to return to college.
In the bleakest moment in my life to that point, I was drawn to this place for no other reason but to find solace; that is when Parkside became my home.
But Parkside also felt very different during that trip; the kids weren’t playing double-dutch like I had recalled in my childhood visits; the ethos of the neighborhood I had remembered had seemingly vanished.
Then, upon returning to college, just 3 weeks after that impromptu trip to Philadelphia, my Grandfather died, suddenly and unexpectedly. And in his death was the most powerful lesson I’ve experienced in my life. That lesson goes as follows: when you feel moved to act (as I felt moved to leave college bound for Parkside) you must act, even if you don’t know the reasons why.
I found out my “why”, as I was fated to be the last person in my immediate family to see my Grandfather alive. And that is a gift I will treasure forever.
This neighborhood has transformed me; it has been there for me in my transformation. Through this CDC we will all be stewards of transforming this neighborhood back to the healthy, vibrant and diverse neighborhood that is its founding ethos.
As of the September 2015 publication of this article, Parkside has a formal CDC.
We call it the Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation…And WE ARE READY!
News that is from, about, and benefits our Parkside Community in West Philadelphia.