Wednesday, February 29, 2012

South Philly wants to extend East Passyunk's success

The recent success of East Passyunk Ave, in the Passyunk Square neighborhood, has really got people thinking on both sides of Broad St in South Philly.

If they can do it, why can't we?

Andrew Pinkham, a resident of Philadelphia's Bella Vista neighborhood, is leading the charge to get things done around West Passyunk Ave and Snyder Ave in Newbold. The extent of the project has been fully conceptualized, and now all they need is funding. "Before & After" shots have been included above so you can see what they're looking to do.

Some of the project highlights include:
  • Cleaner streets
  • Greening public areas
  • Improved pedestrian safety and traffic circulation
  • Signal improvements
  • New parking strategies
  • Curb bump-outs/ramps
  • Commercial area banners
This is a large project to say the least, but it looks like Andrew is on the right path to seeing it through.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Urban farming ... in North Philly?

Urban farming in Philadelphia seems to be a growing program for neighborhoods that are under served for food options.

What do I mean be under served? I mean that there are many neighborhoods in our big city that don't have access to a decent supermarket. Most of the time, they have to rely on smaller corner markets to shop for their daily/weekly/monthly food and the selection is limited. Especially in the "fresh" category.

I actually wrote a post in April 2011 about an urban farm opening in Brewerytown, and this article proves that the trend is growing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

All political eyes are on Philly

I logged a post in May 2011 about this project, and now things are starting to come together.

All political eyes are watching over our city, more specifically in South Philly, to see if the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) can deliver on their promises. Those promises, are as follows:

"... to improve energy efficiency and operability and reduce carbon emissions of new and existing buildings, and to stimulate private investment and quality job creation in the Greater Philadelphia region, the larger Mid-Atlantic region, and beyond. The GPIC will focus on full spectrum retrofit of existing average size commercial and multifamily residential buildings."

Needless to say, this group has their hands full.

Over the next 2 years, the GPIC will design and build their first project at Building 661. This project may be a make-or-break for the group and will certainly show whether or not the $129M investment was worth it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SeedPhilly is putting start-ups and investors together

What better way for both parties to find each other than to be introduced?

Brad Denenberg, founder of SeedPhilly and co-founder of Philly Start-Up Leaders, has come up with a great concept to solve a common problem. If start-ups are always looking for willing investors, and investors are always looking for the next start-up, why not put them both together in one central location.

That's how SeedPhilly was born.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Blog Post: "Temple students get sustainable apartments"

Good morning, readers.

This is a first for Philly Urban Living, but one of our regular readers contacted me and volunteered to write a guest post for this Blog. Needless to say, I gladly accepted. Not only is it great to hear from regular readers, but it’s even more encouraging to hear from one who wants to contribute.

Emma Crawford is a recent graduate of Murray State University with a degree in Creative Writing. Having an interest in green/sustainable development around Temple University, she decided to focus her efforts there. If you like what you see, please comment below and tell Emma to come back for another post!
… … ...

With more students enrolling in Temple University every year, a population boom has occurred in the surrounding area causing tremendous growth. Such growth is seen as a positive for the local economy. However, the additional construction to build new apartment buildings catering to students had many concerned with a potentially negative impact on the environment.

That’s when The Modules were thought up, a living space for 160 residents and what will soon be the only environmentally friendly apartment building near the university. The Modules are water efficient, prevent ground water pollution, and help to reduce the energy waste by recycling conditioned air within the building.

They have been given that name because they were constructed using a modular design. These modules, or blocks, were built off-site, allowing the construction of even more environmentally friendly materials and less waste. Any waste produced was recycled into new building materials for additional sustainability.

In addition to the environmental sustainability of The Modules, the apartments themselves are affordable for students. Many students who have taken up residence in The Modules have commented that it's the price and convenience of the building that attracted them, not the eco-friendly nature of the building. Students have said to be remarking that The Modules are so close to Temple University that it feels safer walking home at night. One student stated that her rent was comparable to other Philadelphia apartments in the area and that the energy saving aspects of The Modules was an added bonus. 

The Modules makes use of a unique energy preservation design that recycles treated air within the building. As one resident turns down the heat, the already heated air is redirected to another unit where a resident is turning up the heat, reducing additional burned energy. The roof of The Modules will also have a green meadow, allowing residents to sit and relax on lawn chairs while enjoying a clear view of the skyline and fresh air.

Throughout the construction process, state-of-the-art energy saving techniques and use of water conservation helped earn The Modules a sustainability award. The US Green Building Council awarded a Gold standard for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to the developers and designers of the first environmentally friendly and sustainable building in the Temple University area.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pier 9 Potential

I actually wrote a post about this project in August 2011.

If you have not seen the new Race Street Pier yet, I highly recommend checking it out. More details have come to light on its neighboring pier, so here's hoping that this project gets up and running at some point in the near future.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Philly's new zoning code promotes sustainability

Although the new code will not officially be put into effect until August 2012, zoning reform advocates are stoked to see what it can do to simplify the process.

Since Philadelphia's current zoning code dates back to 1962, which was when suburban development was very popular, there were about 1,000 spot changes made to it during the last 50 years. Although the city thought they were doing something good by making changes when they were needed, it just complicated things even more.

When the zoning reform process began back in 2007, the Zoning Code Commission decided to focus on 7 different goals:
  1. Simplify base districts
  2. Simplify overlay districts
  3. Simplify approvals
  4. Improve readability and reorganization
  5. Protect neighborhoods
  6. Promote sustainability
  7. Promote quality and design
Although the first 4 goals, seem to be more complete than the last 3 goals (as of now), "Promoting Sustainability" seems to be one that has been focused on. In the new code, walkable development, solar/wind systems, and storm water management all play a critical role in getting city approval. Bonus space may even be given to developers who's project achieves LEED certification.

Needless to say, the new zoning code will be a huge improvement over what we have now.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New businesses are seeing value on Ridge Ave in Roxborough

Feel free to call this one "Part II" of the Roxborough Series. Honestly, it's hard for me not to blog about my own neighborhood when I find a great article from my sources.

Since the 1980s, Manayunk and Chestnut Hill have been known as the Main Street hubs for most of Northwest Philadelphia, but things are starting to change ( ... for the better). Not only are Manayunk and Chestnut Hill still thriving, but Mount Airy, East Falls, and Roxborough now all have successful neighborhood development groups of their own and they're getting things done. Things like street scape improvements, trash/litter patrolling, and sidewalk planters all help create an inviting environment for those who want to walk along their neighborhood's avenue (i.e. shoppers, diners, tourists, etc.). It may seem trivial, but it works.

Roxborough has been catching steam over the last 5 years, and new businesses have been building/developing new storefronts and setting up shop in existing retail spots along Ridge Ave; anywhere from Port Royal Ave all the way down to Terrace St. Antique stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and architecture/design firms are taking advantage of Roxborough's central business location in NW Philadelphia, as well as its close proximity to the Montgomery County suburbs.

If you haven't been to our neighborhood for a while, take a drive down Ridge Ave and see all of the positive changes that are taking place for yourself.