Keep up with all things Germantown! We post resources and opportunities for local businesses and entrepreneurs, news about community-driven planning efforts and the equitable development of Germantown, and relevant programs and events for residents.
The Flying Horse Center in Germantown is best known for its industrial reuse story. In 2010, the Community Design Collaborative chose the 85-year-old parking garage, which had been transformed into a multi-use community center, as a model of adaptive reuse in its Retooling Industrial Sites exhibit.
With most of the 55,000-square-foot facility leased and the final phase of office flex space being built, owner Stan Smith is once again using the hulking structure as a leading example of how to combat some of Philly’s chronic urban woes. This time he’s taking on another form of neighborhood blight: graffiti. In a page out of Jane Golden’s playbook, he’s allowing local artists to use portions of the Flying Horse Center’s facade as a showcase for street art.
“The building gets so much exposure because of its central location right next to the train stop,” explains Smith. “The graffiti that plagued the building was sending the wrong message. It made me mad.”
Check out Inquirer Article on one of the panelists for GUCDC’s Sustainability Forum
By Karen Heller, Inquirer Columnist
POSTED: April 08, 2013
Zack Bird paints walls. He does pretty well creating murals and faux finishes for Palm steak joints across the country, and in some of the nicer homes across the region.
Bird has a second, stealth job unpainting walls.
Specifically, he paints over graffiti on walls and bridges in public spaces, along the river drives, and in the Wissahickon, “the thing I love most about Philadelphia.” Call it faux unfinishing.
It’s his one-man beautification project. Instead of Lady Bird, we have Zack Bird.
“I’m just doing my little part,” said Bird, 43, the son of two artists, who grew up in Mount Airy and now resides one neighborhood over in Germantown. “How can you grow up near the Wissahickon and not be entranced with the stonework?”
So this is a story that reveals how one person doing one thing is helping the city and making our lives better.
Bird has taken his talent and applied it, literally, for free to restoring what was. “I don’t want to compete with graffiti artists, although the art hasn’t developed much in the last 20 years,” he said. “But I want it out of the parks. It’s an eyesore. They’re vandals, not artists. There’s nothing cool about defacing other works of art and public property.”
Since December, Bird has completed a dozen reclamation projects, along Kelly and Lincoln Drives, a retaining wall near Cresheim Creek,
September 23, 2012
By Alaina Mabaso for NewsWorks
Germantown residents didn’t seem to mind giving up several parking spaces for some unorthodox temporary arts and community installations which were part of an international event which came to the neighborhood on Friday.
Germantown’s 2012 PARK(ing) Day participants said that their stations, set up in metered parking spaces commandeered worldwide for the day-long event, attracted many curious passersby.
On the 300 block of W. Chelten Ave., the Germantown United Community Development Corporation rolled several giant triangular boards into two parking spaces.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012, by Liz Spikol
The group Germantown United CDC, founded last year, is trying to change things. “Germantown is an incredible neighborhood, with endless historical and cultural assets,” says Emaleigh Doley, a Germantown resident and member of the Germantown United CDC’s steering committee. “It’s true that over the years, the neighborhood has taken a hit, to put it mildly. Now, if ever, is the time for Germantown to move forward.” Doley is encouraged by what she’s seen: a steady rise in community organizing, citizen planning and participation in development issues. “It’s development of the neighborhood’s business corridors and blighted and vacant land that will play a major role in shaping Germantown’s future,” she says, “which is why Germantown United CDC’s focus begins with sustainable commercial corridor development. We want to see business districts operating at their fullest potential, facilitating further redevelopment in Germantown and stimulating economic growth.”
In our first installment of G-town Radio’s new podcast series, The Northwest Soapbox, attorney Yvonne Haskins of Germantown United CDC speaks about Germantown’s prominent past, recent struggles and community reemergence.
Yvonne Haskins is the co-chair of the Germantown United CDC Program Committee and the informal advisor on zoning/land use questions.
The Northwest Soapbox is a platform for the people of Northwest Philadelphia to offer commentary, share news or make a call for action. Each week a different person speaks to issues affecting our community. Want to get on the soapbox? Contact us at: email@example.com.
November 18, 2011
By Kristen Mosbrucker for NewsWorks
Nearly two dozen Germantowners met at the renovated Greene Street YMCA to “dream big” about the future of the commercial corridors in the neighborhood.
This came after a steering committee and representatives from five West Germantown community organizations mobilized behind a newly formed community development corporation calledGermantown United. Last week, they said they wanted to go public with their ideas.
Among their visions were enlisting a Fairmount Park Ranger to patrol Vernon Park, promoting housing restoration, hosting workshops, bolstering town watches and teaming up with existing programs and organizations like a local entrepreneurship apprentice program run by the Greater Germantown Business Association.
By Andy Sharpe |
Germantown stands out as a neighborhood whose glorious history smacks against its challenging present. It is a neighborhood where immaculately kept Revolutionary War-era historical sites share city blocks with nail salons, litter, and poverty. However, a movement of Germantown residents think the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood has a bright future. These residents have come together to form the Germantown United Community Development Corporation (CDC). Germantown United is currently hard at work accepting applications from interested community members to join its Board and preliminarily looking at how to improve the area’s commercial corridors.
NOVEMBER 16, 2012 | BY RYAN BRIGGS
The Sav-a-Lot opened last December, but rather than dissolving, Germantown United used the attention and membership it had gained to try to shape commercial development in the neighborhood. The group began hosting public planning sessions, adopted the “CDC” moniker, and filed for non-profit status. It has spent the last several months strengthening its board, which, alongside business owners and employees of the neighborhood’s numerous historic sites, now includes a professor, an investment banker, a member of the city’s Commerce Department, and a project manager of Post Brothers Apartments.
Germantown is a neighborhood that is characterized by the remnants of its past colliding with the challenges of its present. It is definitely one of the most famous historic sections of Philly, right behind Old City in the eyes of many. Yet, this storied history comes with the backdrop of crime, poverty, trash, and neighborhood division on many blocks. This neighborhood division has been manifested by the corrupt Germantown Settlement, which was a social service and community development agency that ran out of money, and a tiff over retail development on Chelten Avenue.
It’s why Germantown residents are even more motivated to redevelop and cultivate a sense of community. In fact, the Germantown United CDC (GUCDC) was formed toward the end of last year to reinstate transparency to the neighborhood.