Real Estate Development

Response to Lower Germantown Blight and Housing Threat Before the PRA

The mission of Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.

In February of 2018, Germantown United CDC became aware that the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) was considering a proposal to refinance $3.3 million in loans­––with forgiveness of all back taxes, all utility liens, and all late penalties and interest accumulated over a 25-year period––on 50+ properties concentrated in lower Germantown (an estimated 140+ units of housing).

News of the proposal before the PRA was met with overwhelming outrage. Thanks to substantial pressure, community organizing and advocacy, the PRA rejected the proposal and is moving forward with foreclosure, calling it “the responsible course of action that is best for the Germantown neighborhood and for the ongoing preservation and maintenance of this important affordable housing.” If successful, the PRA will take control of these properties. At this time however, exactly what will happen to these properties remains influx and unknown. But wait, there’s more! »»»

Speak Up, Speak Out for Germantown at District Plan Meeting January 8th

Like each of the Philadelphia2035 District Plans, The Upper Northwest Plan is informed by a series of public meetings to ensure that the plan’s goals are compatible with community needs. Meetings will be held on weekday evenings in the District at transit-accessible locations. Explore the Upper Northwest District website.

The first public meeting for the Upper Northwest District Plan will be:

Monday January 8th, 2018 at 6:30pm
Brossman Center, Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia
7301 Germantown Avenue

But wait, there’s more! »»»

Germantown United Community Development Corporation A Finalist For National Trust for Historic Preservation Grant

Presented by National Geographic & American Express

Vote for Germantown, the only finalist in the entire state of Pennsylvania, to receive up to $150,000 in grant funding from American Express.

DOWNLOAD PDF of PRESS RELEASE >>

PHILADELPHIA September 25, 2017 … As a finalist in the Partners in Preservation: Main Streets campaign, Germantown United Community Development Corporation encourages the public to visit VoteYourMainStreet.org/Germantown to help Germantown United CDC secure funding to preserve two buildings on Germantown Avenue’s business corridor: Parker Hall (5801 Germantown Ave) and John Trower’s building (5706 Germantown Ave). Germantown is the only neighborhood in Philadelphia and the entire state of Pennsylvania participating in this competition.

With the awarded funds, this project will provide necessary facade and structural improvements to these two significant 20th-century African-American historic sites. The history of both buildings dates to the 1870s. Today, Parker Hall contains the office of Dr. Althea Hankins, MD, and the ACES Museum, which pays tribute to multi-ethnic contributions to the U.S. Military in WWII. The museum hosts veterans groups from throughout the country. John Trower’s building is home to the Crab House restaurant, a popular local business. Restoring these facades will benefit these businesses, bolster the historic appeal of Germantown, and increase community pride by highlighting the contributions of African-Americans to the history and culture of this country, in an underserved African-American urban community.

Germantown United CDC’s mission is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and it’s business corridors through a sustainable, creative and community driven approach to economic development. GUCDC believes that Germantown’s history and built environment are economic assets upon which to rebuild Germantown’s economy and create equitable economic development. After decades of decline, there are signs of improvement and vibrancy in Germantown.

Partners in Preservation is a community-based partnership, created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places and their role in sustaining local communities.

Partners in Preservation: Main Streets will award $2 million in grant funding from American Express to Main Street districts in need of preservation support across America. The public will determine which sites will receive funding by voting for their favorite main streets through October 31 at VoteYourMainStreet.org, the online voting portal hosted by National Geographic Travel.

Partners in Preservation: Main Streets Open House Weekend  

Germantown United CDC will host a public Open House Weekend event at their new storefront office, located at 5320 Germantown Avenue, on Saturday, October 7 from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. to highlight the importance of Main Street preservation efforts in Philadelphia. The Open House will coincide with the Revolutionary Germantown Festival, a neighborhood-wide event honoring the legacy of the Battle of Germantown. Germantown United CDC is one of 25 historic Main Street districts across the country participating in the Partners in Preservation: Main Streets Open House Weekend.

Why Main Street Matters

According to 2016 data from Main Street America, investments in Main Street districts have a significant impact on local economies – encouraging real estate development as well as the creation of new businesses and jobs. In 2016, $4.65 billion reinvested in Main Street improvement programs resulted in 8,042 building rehabilitations, 5,616 business openings, and 27,462 new jobs.

Furthermore, according to a recent study from Morning Consult of 2,201 Americans commissioned by American Express, 79 percent of Americans say that preserving Main Street is important. Additionally, 79 percent of Americans say that the idea of Main Street is what makes America beautiful. Main Street is also seen as vital in connecting Americans to their local community – 82 percent of Americans say that Main Street is important to their ability to socialize with others in a community. A similar amount, 86 percent, say that Main Street is important to the well-being and the enjoyment of a community.

For more information and to vote daily for Germantown United CDC through October 31, visit VoteYourMainStreet.org and share the love via social media using #VoteYourMainStreet and #VoteGermantown.

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Media Contact:
Jack Cotter
Jack@enroutemarketing.com
215.867.8060

About Germantown United Community Development Corporation

The mission of Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Northwest Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development. Learn more at http://germantownunitedcdc.org.

About Partners in Preservation

Partners in Preservation is a program in which American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, awards preservation grants to historic places across the country.

Through this partnership, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation seek to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation in the United States and to preserve America’s historic and cultural places. The program also hopes to inspire long-term support from local citizens for the historic places at the heart of their communities.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com, and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, instagram.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

Key links to products, services and corporate responsibility information: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, Plenti rewards program, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, Accertify, corporate card, business travel, and corporate responsibility.

About the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places: www.savingplaces.org.

About Main Street America

Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC, a joint venture between National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox, combines National Geographic television channels with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic Studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, catalog, licensing and e-commerce businesses. A portion of the proceeds from National Geographic Partners LLC will be used to fund science, exploration, conservation and education through significant ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society. For more information, visit http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Big Announcement: GUCDC is Moving!

We at Germantown United CDC are thrilled to announce that we are moving into our first storefront office located at 5320 Germantown Ave, at the corner of W Penn Street. This space that has been vacant for nearly a year. We are looking forward to activating this corner and sharing this block of the Avenue with so many great Germantown businesses and attractions, including: Perfectly Flawless Boutique, Bargain Thrift, GrumblethorpeSandalwood Yoga, Gtown TeesCount On Me 123 Learning Center, Pizzeria Nonna, Trinity Lutheran Church, Tastie’s, Angie’s Dominican Power SalonPhiladelphia Spine AssociatesAround the Clock Home HealthcareHosley Temple CME, The Police Athletic League, Germantown Boys & Girls Club, Germantown Friends School, and more! Right now we’re busy moving boxes, putting together furniture, and getting settled. We’ll be hosting an Open House for the community in the fall. Date TBD. Stay tuned!

RES to complete Chelten Avenue Commercial Corridor Market Study and Revitalization Strategy

res-logo_9-24Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) has retained Real Estate Strategies, Inc. (RES) to conduct a market study and develop a revitalization strategy for the Chelten Avenue commercial corridor in Germantown. GUCDC is actively working to bolster and reinforce the vibrancy of Chelten Avenue to meet the needs of the surrounding community, attract visitors from outside the immediate neighborhood, and provide employment opportunities for neighborhood residents. Building on these efforts, the purpose and objectives of this study are to explore opportunities to strengthen and diversify the mix of commercial uses in the corridor, the potential to reuse vacant or underutilized properties, business and job attraction strategies, and available sources of funding to support recommended revitalization strategies.

GUCDC_Corridor_0057_Monique_Brand copy

RES provides advisory services in real estate and economic development and has extensive experience in preparing market analyses and developing revitalization strategies for commercial corridors and neighborhoods in Philadelphia and throughout the greater mid-Atlantic region. Additionally, RES principals have over 25 years of experience working on development plans and initiatives in the Germantown neighborhood. Careful market research underpins all RES engagements, with the understanding that the best business attraction and economic development strategies begin with a realistic understanding of market dynamics.

The mission of Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of the business corridors in the Germantown neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development. Learn more at www.germantownunitedcdc.org.

Shape Chelten Ave: Rapid Planning Project with The American Planning Association, May 16-20

apa-logoGermantown United CDC applied for and received the American Planning Association’s Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) to conduct a brief and focused planning effort on a small area of Germantown. Since GUCDC’s focus is on commercial corridors, the portion of West Chelten Avenue between Morris Street and Greene Street was selected as the study area.

The CPAT consists of volunteer urban planners and professionals from all over the country who come into an area to work for one week’s time, as part of a rapid planning process. Our project will take place during the week of May 16-20, 2016 and include two public events on May 16 and May 19. You’re invited to participate! Residents, business owners, and other stakeholders will be asked to contribute their local knowledge and ideas towards building a collective vision of this commercial corridor.

GUCDC_Corridor_0057_Monique_Brand copy

Events

1. Monday, May 16th at 6:30PM
Interactive planning/design workshop to gather community input | Share on Facebook

2. Thursday, May 19th at 6:30PM
Presentation of the results and discussion | Share on Facebook

Both public meetings will be held at the Pegasus Room at The Flying Horse Center, located at 5534 Pulaski Ave (Chelten and Pulaski). During the week, the Community Planning Assistance Team will be using the Imperfect Gallery at 5601 Greene St as their central workspace and headquarters (stop in and say hello). To RSVP to either event, email info@germantownunitedcdc.org or call 215-856-4303.

GUCDC-APA-Flyer

Project Background

Since 2014, Germantown United CDC (GUCDC) has been working with several other groups in Germantown to seek planning resources for Germantown. (Organizational partners include: Historic Germantown, Germantown Community Connection, G’town Restoration CDC, the City Planning Commission.) In that spirit, GUCDC applied for and received the American Planning Association’s Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) to conduct a brief and focused planning effort on a small portion of Germantown.

West Chelten Avenue between Morris Street and Greene Street was selected as the study area. This stretch includes one of Germantown’s busiest SEPTA train stations and bus stops, one of the most dangerous intersections in Philadelphia for pedestrians/vehicular accidents (Wayne Ave/Chelten Ave), along with a large swath of vacant properties with lots of potential (former CareerLink building; former House of Jin property; continued vacancies at Chelten Plaza; etc.) along with many other key spaces (Mastery Picket Charter School, the Burgess Center, the former-Pathmark building, and more).

We hope that the results of this project, which will be shared and available to the public, will give all of us who are dedicated to bringing jobs and economic improvement to Germantown some new tools to achieve that end. There is value in keeping the momentum going, and the focus on a critical part of Chelten Avenue.

About the American Planning Association

The American Planning Association provides leadership in the development of vital communities by advocating excellence in planning, promoting education and citizen empowerment, and providing our members with the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change.

Through the Community Planning Assistance Team program, the APA organizes volunteer planning teams tailored specifically to a community’s needs. Members offer their time and expertise to people and places where additional resources are needed. This program is supported through donations.

Why CPAT?

  • By pairing a multidisciplinary team of expert planning professionals from around the country with community members, key stakeholders, and relevant decision makers, the place-based initiative seeks to foster community education, engagement, and empowerment.
  • Each team is selected for the specific expertise needed on the project to offer pro bono assistance in developing a framework or vision plan that promotes a sustainable, livable, economically vibrant, and healthy community.
  • Communities facing a range of challenges including, but not limited to, social equity and affordability, economic development, sustainability, consensus building, and urban design are well-suited for assistance through the program.
  • Projects focus on localities with a demonstrated need for assistance, where planning resources and expertise may not otherwise be available.
  • CPAT projects are collaborative efforts with shared responsibilities. CPATs and communities work together throughout the process.
  • APA contributes the time of its staff and volunteer experts while the recipient communities cover travel costs.

Meet Germantown’s Community Planning Assistance Team and read more about this project on the American Planning Association website.

Germantown United CDC featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer today

Parks can be a powerful tool to rescue struggling commercial areas. Pulitzer prize-winning writer Inga Saffron, architecture critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer, recently visited Germantown to tour the newly renovated Vernon Park, which fronts Germantown’s central business district. Read her take on the park’s comeback, neighborhood revitalization, and rising development in Germantown.

The article features Ruth Seeley, the president of the Friends of Vernon Park – the organization that courageously led the charge for the park renovations – alongside Germantown United CDC’s new Commercial Corridor Manager Emaleigh Doley, who discussed the challenges impacting efforts to improve the nearby shopping district.

This is an exciting time for Germantown. If you are energized about the neighborhood’s potential, consider joining one of the many civic groups – like Friends of Vernon Park, your local Registered Community Organization (RCO), or GU’s own volunteer committee – and get involved in moving Germantown forward!

read the full story in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia-Inquirer-Inga-Saffron-2015.11.06

read the full story

YWCA Update: Councilwoman Bass uses NTI Funds to Support the YWCA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Councilwoman Bass uses NTI Funds to Support the YWCA

As the Councilwoman for the 8th district it is my job to advocate for every neighborhood, keeping in mind the unique perspectives of residents while recognizing community treasures.

When I took office in 2012, the question of what to do about the YWCA loomed large, as this building is an integral part of the neighborhood’s history. And while we are still working towards a final answer, I am beyond pleased that we have endeavored to explore additional options. I am most impressed with the creativity of the ideas that have been presented thus far, and nothing less should be expected in and for Germantown.

While we await the Request for Proposals (“RFP”) to be issued by the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Authority (“PRA”) this Spring, I will continue to speak with local developers and discuss their bold and unique visions for Germantown. Some of the concepts suggested thus far include full market-rate condominiums and/or rental units, office space, retail options and recreation uses. These suggestions have been presented both individually and in various combinations, and I am excited about the possibilities ahead. We are seeking developers that have the capacity to move quickly, who have a plan to involve the community in the process, and who take into account the importance of environmental sustainability. The RFP will be an open and transparent process, with an emphasis on preservation.

But beyond what goes into the YWCA, we must address the building’s condition and the recent concerns brought forward at a community meeting around this topic back in January. As rumors began flying about the building’s condition, (i.e., instability), it was critical that we operated on the facts. Working with the Department of Licenses and Inspection, and private consultants including former L & I Commissioner Bennett Levin, we got those facts which I am pleased to report.

I am happy to announce the YWCA is not imminently dangerous, and I have committed $2.2 million of my Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (“NTI”) funds to rehab the property and make the building safe and stable. With additional funds from the PRA, totaling approximately $4 million, we are able to provide the resources to protect and weatherize the property to prevent the building from any further structural deterioration. We will also be able to provide the much needed ‘curb appeal’ to make the property more marketable, and aid in stabilizing the commercial corridor.

We have to be thoughtful and deliberate about development in Germantown-just as we have in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill. Nothing less will be acceptable. With the NTI funds I am committing to this project, it will help make the site more attractive to developers while protecting a vital part of our City’s history. The building is currently in poor condition, but with our subsidy from NTI and the PRA, it will be saved and developed.

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