Overall it was a good year. In some respects it was a great year.
The Globe Dye Works over on Worth Street continues to attract new small businesses and it is one of the most successful examples of IRMX zoning (Industrial Residential Mixed use) in the city. When I first heard this idea it seemed kind of crazy. Who wants to live in an old building where they work in Frankford. There are more than 30 commercial tenants, including 19 who also live in the property. Current tenants include painters, photographers, floral designers, a cabinet maker, a potter, boat builders, a metal sculptor, a classic automobile broker, a tattoo artist, a creamery, a guacamole maker, a coffee roaster and a caterer, among many other users.
State Senator Christine Tartaglione and State Representative Jason Dawkins presented a check for a $1,000,000 Pennsylvania capital grant to the owners on January 10th. The RACP grant will support the final phase of Globe Dye’s restoration, including the expansion of a special events space and the remodeling of office and manufacturing spaces.
Verizon Wireless opened a new store Foulkrod and Frankford replacing the former Frankford Deli. Nana’s Day Care on Oxford Avenue and Artisan Smiles on Frankford Avenue (dental office) are both under construction and the Shoppes at Wissinoming at Tulip and Bridge Street will bring a new ShopRite and several new stores to the area.
The Daral Building, against all odds, has been completely rehabbed by the Frankford Community Development Corporation. It seemed like a long shot but a great idea. To stake a claim to a spot in the heart of Frankford and restore and occupy it. It cost a lot of money and that money had to be raised, a piece at a time. Kim Washington and the CDC cobbled that financing together and the building is done. The vision became a reality. Congratulations to all on a job well done.
What seemed even more improbable was the idea of a park in the center of Frankford. What started out as a pop up temporary park, morphed into the Frankford Pause. The concept came right out of a series of focus group meetings with Frankford residents sitting around talking about what they would like to see. Then the professionals got to work to see what could be done. The result is there on Paul Street, right next to the Daral Building. Completion of the concept still has a few steps to go but the park itself is ready to be used.
Food Truck Fridays were sponsored by the Frankford CDC and brought some new life to the 4600 block of Paul Street during the Summer. That was despite the reconstruction of the Arrott Transportation Center that closed off blocks of Frankford Avenue for days at a time.
The Arrott Transportation Center reconstruction moved ahead at what seemed like a ponderously slow pace but it is a huge job and light is at the end of the tunnel. Construction is scheduled to be finished this year.
Regulatory progress that will help the quality of life came through at the end of the year. A controversial bill in City Council that will begin regulating Stop and Go stores that sell beer and liquor was passed. Some of these stores and the problems they attract are a flash point for crime. State Representative Jason Dawkins also managed to get regulation of recovery houses through the State Government. Both of those bills address issues that have plagued the city for years. They will not solve all the problems but it is a step in the right direction and a sign that somebody has finally listened to the neighborhoods.
Northwood Civic Association took the lead in conservatorship in Frankford. They worked with a nonprofit builder to take possession of a house at Oxford Avenue and Wakeling Street that had been left to deteriorate by the bank who had taken ownership and left if neglected. After a year of legal haggling, conservatorship was awarded, and the house will be rehabbed and sold to a new single-family owner.
Squatters were in the news and a situation that developed in Northwood lead to legislation that will make it easier for owners to retake the property and prosecute the offenders.
Northwood Civic took on the Castor Avenue Speedway and got some results. Some new stop signs and some traffic calming measures have slowed down the traffic somewhat.
The Boys and Girls Club in Kinsey Street rebuilding has been going on all year long and it looks great. We will be doing a special tour this month to show you how it all turned out.
There was a new charter school application by Qor Charter School for the old St. Joachim school building. Since Sankofa left, the building has been vacant, and it will be good to see it occupied. It would also be good to have another school choice for our families.
The Malankara Church relocated from their building at Penn and Orthodox to a new location farther up in the Northeast. Frankford Friends School purchased the building and turned it into the Frankford Friends School Annex. The Annex is now home to a multi-purpose room for performances and physical education classes in addition to theater, music, and library/Lower School Spanish classrooms. Frankford Friends had doubled its footprint over the last few years which is a good thing and helps to stabilize the area around the school and Meeting House.
Frankford’s oldest house at 1548 Adams Avenue has new owner who promises to care for it. It had been in limbo with owner taking care of it.
Lenny Jaynes, noted poet in Frankford, began publishing his work in the Frankford Gazette and the Frankford Gazette turned 10 years old in May.
Crime overall went down. Aggravated assault, burglary and theft are the lowest they have been since we began tracking in 2013. Firearm crime is about at the level of 2013 with 179 incidents. Robbery has continued its decline since 2013 with 247, up slightly since last year. 91 arrests for weapons violations is a record and is 38% higher than in 2013. That is good news because those guns are off the street and may help explain why crime with firearms has declined.
Business is not booming on Frankford Avenue. There are some good businesses there but there are too many vacancies and few places where you can sit down for a bite to eat.
There are no new market rate housing projects in the works. Everything proposed for housing has been either senior or veterans subsidized housing. There is a need for those but for the community to grow we need new middle-class folks moving in.
Homicide is back up to the height it reached in 2016 when 12 people died in PSA1. It is up in the city overall. Other crime is down overall as well. Drugs is a big driving factor.
That is all for this year.