Now in its thirteenth year, the Tacony Community Development Corporation aims to revitalize its historic Northeast Philadelphia community. The neighborhood dates back to the 1870’s, when it was founded as a planned industrial community. Many of the homes and buildings retain original historic architectural features. With easy access from Center City and New Jersey, housing options ranging from rowhouses to mansions, and neighborhood green space, the community has a lot to offer. But it was hit hard by the economic recession, and the neighborhood has seen a number of foreclosures, vacant properties and quality of life issues as a result.
Alex Balloon, Commercial Corridor Manager for the Tacony CDC, has spent his one-year tenure focusing on revitalizing the Torresdale Avenue Commercial Corridor, located at the heart of the community. From planting new trees to launching a marketing campaign around the Hoagie Trail to attract new visitors to the area, he has worked hard to highlight and promote the great things Tacony has to offer.
Central to Alex’ work is a storefront revitalization project launched with help from the Community Design Collaborative. The Collaborative consulted with six storefront owners, who responded to Alex’ call to corridor businesses refresh their facades. From removing aluminum siding to improving signage, Alex says the Collaborative offered “realistic and modest” suggestions for improvements that stayed within Tacony CDC’s recommended budget.
All six of the storefront owners who received design advice from the Collaborative are moving forward. Their financial investment in their facade has been supplemented by grants from the Commerce Department Storefront Improvement Program and Tacony CDC.
DeNofa’s Deli, one of the corridor’s anchor businesses, recently started construction, and the other projects expect to receive bids from the project’s contractor in the next few weeks, with work set to start immediately following. The hammers and drills you hear behind Alex during our video visit to Torresdale Avenue are music to his ears!