Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tacony CDC celebrates spruced-up storefronts

The F.M. Mart on Torresdale Avenue has been renovated to look like the Woolworth’s it was years ago. (PlanPhilly)
The F.M. Mart on Torresdale Avenue has been renovated to look like the Woolworth’s it was years ago. (PlanPhilly)

Tacony Community Development Corporation has worked with commercial property owners to renovate 15 storefronts in the last year – that’s more than any other corridor has accomplished in a single year period. On Tuesday, Tacony CDC and its many partners celebrated these upgrades, all part of a concentrated effort to revive the neighborhood’s commercial corridors, particularly Torresdale Avenue, and in so doing build a stronger neighborhood.

We’ve been following along since Tacony CDC started its storefront initiative in 2012, when they started taking applications for storefront improvement matching grants in partnership with the Commerce Department. This project generated $200,000 in new investment on Torresdale Avenue.

Fresh paint, new lighting and awnings, updated signage, or as Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger said improvements made “one mosaic tile at a time,” add up and together are giving Torresdale Avenue a new look.

“We’re like a little hidden treasure,” Tacony CDC president Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz said. Her salon, Marie Huff Hairdressing, named for her mother, has been on Torresdale Avenue for 35 years and she said her customers appreciate that things are looking better on the street. “People have a new pride now.”

Beyond her block, which features four businesses that participated in the storefront program, Huff-Labovitz said she’s most excited to see the transformation of Wellen’s Hosiery and F.M. Mart, which looks like the Woolworth’s it was in her youth.

Angie DeNofa, owner of DeNofa’s Italian Deli was the first business owner to have her double storefront completed, and her success was a key barometer for neighboring businesses. To her, there was little to lose and everything to gain.

“I felt like I had neighbors that wanted to stay and work together,” DeNofa said of the storefront program.

Or, as Councilman Bobby Henon put it, “This is a good neighbor commitment.”

Tacony CDC announced it will be able to continue its neighborhood improvement work thanks in large part to a renewed partnership with Waste Management through the CDC Tax Credit Program, which will bring $850,000 over 10 years to fund community projects.  is dedicated to covering design, planning and development issues in Philadelphia. The news website is a project of PennPraxis, the clinical arm of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Wyncote Foundation.

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