The Frankford Community Development Corporation (CDC) headed by Kimberly Washington, Esq. has been a major partner of Destination Frankford since its inception in 2013. Now coming off the recent grand opening of the Destination Frankford Art Gallery on April 19th, it’s time to catch up with Kim to see what’s next on the agenda.
Washington came to the CDC after three years as head of the Northeast EPIC Stakeholders cooperative. She is a native of Frankford, graduate of Frankford High School, with a law degree from Temple Law in 2009.
After she passed the bar, she opted to use her degree in community service rather than go into practice. She wanted to give back to the community in some way and that brought her to SCRUB (Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight). While working there she became aware that the EPIC Stakeholders had an opening working in Frankford and she applied and was accepted for the position.
The EPIC meets monthly in Frankford at the Second Baptist Church at 1801 Meadow Street for programs in support of families. Those meetings draw a good cross section of the community and it was at those meetings that I first saw Kim in action managing to let all parties be heard while at the same time moving the program forward.
When the CDC was going through a period of reorganization last year, she was tapped for the leadership role and began work in June of 2013. Although she had no background in community development, she has made the transition smoothly learning while getting the job done.
Development in Frankford is a challenge right now but some progress has been made on Griscom Street near Oxford Avenue. Washington worked out a deal to sell 4721 to an entity interested in using it for senior housing along with an adjacent city owned building. The properties have been vacant for years attracting squatters and the problems that come with them. Some legal hurdles remain to be cleared on the city property but when they are resolved, that intersection will be transformed.
The highlight of the past year has been working with the City Planning Commission and planner Ian Litwin on Destination Frankford. Starting from the lower Northeast district plan, Litwin applied for a grant to implement some of the concepts included in the plan. When a large grant from ArtPlace America was received, work began in earnest on implementing three concepts.
- The idea to erect a sculpture in Womrath Park was the biggest. The artist has been selected and the proposed design is in its final approval process.
- A pop up art Gallery located on Paul Street right off Frankford Avenue opened on April 19th. The location was selected because of its visibility and proximity to the El. It will be open Saturdays through July with three different exhibitions that will attract new visitors to Frankford.
- Improvements to signage are in the design stage now. Signage helps create a sense of place in the community and reinforce its identity. The sculpture and new signage are expected to be completed by November of this year.
With the grant money received and well used, Washington intends to build on the Paul Street initiative. She has already obtained grant funding for a pop up park next to the art gallery, along with façade improvements and streetscaping for that same block. Planning meetings for the design phase of the pop up park with the Community Design Collaborative began this month.
In addition to these projects, the CDC offers space at its offices at 4900 Griscom Street to the EPIC Stakeholders coordinator, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) and the Frankford Parks Group. A public neighborhood computer lab is also headquartered at that location and sees daily use for residents on the job search sites.
Reflecting on the first almost completed full year at the helm, Washington says “My board has been absolutely great” a real resource with very active membership and it has been a great asset.
The community could say the same about Kim Washington, a great asset to the Frankford community.