About Germantown United
To promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown’s business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.
Germantown United CDC is focused on the Central Germantown Business Corridor which is bounded by Chelten Avenue between Baynton and Morris streets; Germantown Avenue between Washington Lane and Berkley Street; Maplewood Mall; and short stretches of important intersecting streets such as Greene Street, Wayne Avenue, and Pulaski Avenue. The yellow line in the map of Germantown demarcates GUCDC’s boundaries. View an expanded image of the map or download a PDF >>
Objectives for 2015
- Launch Storefront Activation Program, that matches Germantown artists to create window displays in vacant storefronts on the corridors
- Host the fourth Maplewood Mall Street Festival in May 2015
- Continue Street tree planting effort beyond the Unit and 100 blocks of Cheltne Avenue, and the 5600 block of Germantown Avenue
- Implement the online business directory for Germantown businesses
- Promote Historic Germantown’s Second Saturday program with additional marketing materials, events and cross-promotion of historic sites with restaurants and shops
- Expand the Business Info Sessions from quarterly to bi-monthly; increase awareness, attendance and participation of Germantown businesses in the meetings
- Implement at least 5 facade improvements through the City Commerce Department’s Storefront Improvement Program
- Continue partnership with Germantown organizations and the City Planning Commission to seek resources for a comprehensive neighborhood plan for Germantown
- Start creating an independent and steady revenue stream to assure organizational sustainability
- Create radio programming for the Low Power FM (LPFM) radio station in partnership with G-town Radio and the Germantown Life Enrichment Center
- Become a Kiva Zip loan sponsor to a Germantown Business
A Message from Our Board President for 2015
November 24, 2014
Over the last week, there has been a lot of dialogue, with the community voicing concerns over developments along Germantown’s business corridors. Germantown United CDC (“GU” or “GUCDC”) has received a number of inquiries asking what GUCDC is doing to address these concerns. Given our focus on promoting and facilitating the revitalization of Germantown’s business corridors, we have been engaged in developing a comprehensive and incremental approach that strengthens our ability to lead successful corridor revitalization. We will be utilizing the time-proven, “Main Street Four-Point Approach” economic development tool that focuses on Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Restructuring. Based on our current capacity, we will be focusing on these three key strategic focus areas over the next year:
1. Supporting and developing the business community
This includes bringing on a full-time Corridor Manager; developing an online business directory; continuing our quarterly business info sessions to link business to resources; promotion and activation activities that leverage our district’s unique historic, cultural, and architectural history; and collaborating on corridor beautification and safety efforts. Included in these efforts are the annual Reimagining Maplewood Mall Street Festival, vacant storefront activation via artists’ displays and popup retail, and further promoting Historic Germantown’s Second Saturdays Program.
2. Creating substantial and sustainable revenue streams
Right now, we have a part-time Executive Director and a hardworking base of volunteers. We are dependent on individual contributions and small foundation and government grants for all of our income. We need significantly more resources to do this work that would provide more staff and enable us to have a permanent office to serve as the base for our work.
3. Building the organizational infrastructure
We are continually working to diversify our Board of Directors, increase our volunteer base and develop strategic partnerships with existing Germantown organizations. One example of how we are moving in this direction is our collaboration with Germantown Community Connection, G’Town Restoration, and Historic Germantown to secure funds for a neighborhood planning and visioning process.
How will we work moving forward?
By increasing communication and collaboration
We will strengthen our communication, both by using traditional means, such as community conversations and workshops, as well as online and social media. We plan soon to convene and host a community meeting with representatives of all interested community organizations to discuss how we communicate, collaborate and share in our efforts to build a stronger community.
By developing a clear and consistent policy on corridor development
Germantown has an extensive base of RCO’s (Registered Community Organizations) with the role of providing input on development projects. We have made it a point NOT to send GUCDC to RCO meetings, specifically because we view this community process as one that is traditionally managed by civic associations who are not engaged in development (such as what CDCs are organized to do) and we did not want to be perceived as stepping on the toes of the involved RCO. Just recently, given the tension regarding social services agencies and Board Member discussions during our October strategic planning retreat, we decided that GUCDC should reach Board consensus and share our views on development that occurs on the commercial corridors. We are still in the process of developing what this should look like, but it is our goal that we will have a clearly stated policy that defines the types of development that we will support along the corridor and the criteria that informs what we endorse or oppose.
By continuing to be transparent in acknowledging our funding sources
In 2014, we received funding from the following sources: Citibank Foundation, Samuel Fels Fund, Allen Hilles Fund, City of Philadelphia Office of Urban Mechanics, Philadelphia Activities Fund, Howard Treatman, Ken Weinstein, contributions from Board members and individuals.
By building a strong positive image of our corridors
We share community concerns raised about whether a proliferation of social services in Germantown is helpful and appropriate for community needs or harmful and/or an oversaturation in certain areas. We want to develop a strong neighborhood plan to actively work to increase community engagement, to recruit community-supported uses that build and sustain Germantown’s economy, and to invite and participate in development opportunities that strengthen and diversify the uses that focus on revitalizing the business and customer mix on the corridors.
In the end, I am committed to our finding a way that we, as a community, including all the various Germantown-based organizations, can work together to have a common vision for the corridor and be able to establish trust and work collaboratively to implement that vision. We are looking for Board members, volunteers, partners and advisors who can roll up their sleeves and help us develop and implement a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to business and economic development.
Board President, Germantown United CDC
Associate Urban Designer, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC