We can’t leave 2016 behind without noting the highs and lows of the year.
The fire in February made national news when it shut down the El and burned down a big piece of the 4600 block of Frankford Avenue. The auto repair business that wrapped around from Griscom to Orthodox burned down and took 3 stores with it and closed down the Mormon facility as well as two others. Now we have a nice, large vacant building available for development.
The Thriftway closed leaving local residents with no option for a supermarket within walking distance.
Construction finally got under way on the Arrott Transportation Center (Formerly the Margaret-Orthodox El Station). The multi million dollar project will bring the facility into the 21st century and improve the look of the area.
The CDC purchased and began renovations on the old Daral building on Paul Street right off Frankford Avenue. The will be moving into the second floor of the building while State Representative Jason Dawkins and staff occupy the first floor.
The Pop Up Park slated for the site next to the Daral building was delayed this year due to budget and engineering costs but is still a go for 2017.
Construction all over Frankford complicated moving around. The Arrott Transportation Center project blocks Frankford Avenue for days at a time which pushes traffic onto the side streets. The water main project on Orthodox and other local streets has blocked traffic from Castor Avenue down to Torresdale. The I-95 reconstruction has added to the congestion down in the area around Aramingo Avenue. The new Royal Farms at Church Street and Aramingo Avenue is under construction and demo began for a new Shop Rite at Tulip and Bridge Streets.
We had two large apartment buildings open this year. Luce Arms was a rehab of an old 5 story building, long vacant on the 4700 block of Griscom Street. New construction at the rear of 4834 Penn Street brings 19 new one bedroom apartments on the market.
Frankford had its first 5K and it came off without a hitch.
We lost Frankford icon Billy Gambrel this year. He was many things to many people but above all he was a gentleman who will be missed by all.
Thanks to Joe Menkevich and with the participation of several others, Wilmot School on Meadow Street across from Wilmot Park and the Garsed Mansion formerly housing the Frankford Y were both placed on the city list of historic buildings.
The Mater Dolorosa church was desanctified and held its last Mass. The building is now for sale. Mater Dolorosa school had been sold earlier in the year and now is housing the Power Through the Word Ministry.
The Capuchin Franciscan Friars purchased the old St. Joachim convent at 1509 Church Street for its Padre Pio Friary. The building had been vacant and there had been some vandalism. The Friars spent the Summer doing renovations and are now moved in.
Crime in Frankford (PSA1) went down compared to 2015 which was a record year. Captain Anthony Luca replaced Captain John McCloskey in the 15th District. Residents formed a group called Frankford Forward to combat violence.
The community took aim at some of the problem bars and take out joints on Frankford Avenue. As a result of several community groups working together, a sweep on those places was made by the city and state agencies to inspect for compliance with regulations. Several were closed immediately and others were cited for various violations. The object is to get these businesses to comply with the regulations that govern them and No more open air drug dealing outside the doors of those places; no more drunk and disorderly crowds that keep people away from the Avenue; no more crime that is attracted to those businesses.
Aria Health merged with the Jefferson Health System. This is one of the better outcomes that we could have gotten with the changes going on in the health care systems.
The Northwood Civic used a new tool in their fight against blight. Conservatorship allows a non profit to file suit to take over a neglected property and make repairs and bring it back to productive use. The owner has the choice of doing the work themselves or giving up title to the property to the non profit who will then do the work. One property on Oxford Avenue was the first test case and it is still working its way through the court system.
It was a busy year in Frankford with the usual ups and downs. The promise of the future awaits us all.