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The Frankford Pause is Moving Ahead

Yesterday afternoon, the Frankford CDC officially broke ground on the first phase of the much-anticipated Frankford Pause Park at 4671-73 Paul Street near SEPTA’s Arrott Transportation Center and next door to the Frankford CDC’s new offices at the Daral Building.

This first phase of the park includes bright pink artificial turf stripes on the ground and on the surrounding walls to illustrate the sound of the passing elevated Market-Frankford Line; planting beds; planter-benches; trees; and a stage area. During the first phase, the Frankford CDC will pilot different types of community programming and observe how the space is used and how people interact with the space, informing adjustments to the later phases and final design.

Further, this phase will allow the space to be put to active use while additional funds are raised for the full, final buildout of the park. Completion of the first phase is anticipated to finish by the end of October. Community Planting Days will be held on Friday, October 27th, and Saturday, October 28th, from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. The Frankford Garden Club will be supervising the planting and hosting workshops throughout the planting days.

The Frankford Pause Park was conceptualized through a community design process with the Community Design Collaborative in 2014 as part of the Frankford CDC and Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s Destination Frankford initiative. LOCUS Partners has prepared full construction drawings for the final buildout. Alexa Bosse of Hinge Collective, who worked on the initial conceptual design, designed the pilot phase which is currently under construction.

Funding for this phase of Frankford Pause Park comes from ArtPlace America and the Frankford CDC. Future phases have funding commitments from Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

(left to right): Ileana Garcia (Frankford CDC), Rafael Alvarez (Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez), Larissa Klevan (Philadelphia City Planning Commission), Ellie Devyatkin (Frankford CDC), State Representative Jason Dawkins, Kimberly Washington (Frankford CDC), Ian Litwin (Philadelphia City Planning Commission), Alexa Bosse (Hinge Collective), Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Christine DeJesus (Frankford CDC), Charlie Bugg (State Representative Jason Dawkins).

Present at the groundbreaking were Frankford CDC Executive Director Kimberly Washington, City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, State Representative Jason Dawkins, City Planners Larissa Klevan and Ian Litwin, Landscape Architect Alexa Bosse, contractor Ruban Villatoro, and staff from the offices of Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez, State Representative Dawkins, and the Frankford CDC.

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Frankford Pause: The Pink Park

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Frankford has been the same for a while now, and a team of volunteer designers from the Community Design Collaborative thought it was time to paint it hot pink.

Anticipated for Spring of 2015, on the corner of Paul Street and Frankford Avenue, is the pop-up park dubbed the Frankford Pause. Headed by architect and long time volunteer for the Community Design Collaborative, Alexa Bosse, the design team worked to make the visions that the Frankford Community Development Corporation (CDC) had, come true. Though it was an unusual task, Bosse and the rest of the team, which included her husband Ari Miller, took it on.

Miller and Bosse “had worked on several projects together” in the past says Bosse and therefore the two were easily able to begin designing the Frankford Pause. The first steps they took were to assemble a team. Realizing that the park required a huge lighting component, lighting designer Robin Miller was added, along with architectural designer and long time friend and coworker of Bosse’s, Andrew Allwine. And finally, Ben Cromie joined as a Planner in order to “take into account the entire commercial corridor of Frankford Ave.” and evaluate the surrounding schools and playgrounds to make sure the team would provide a park most usable to the community. Ari Miller also contributed as a landscape architect and Bosse as an architect.

When asked Bosse says, “No, I haven’t done anything of this type” before but she was not daunted by the task. “In a way doing a pop-up was a lot easier than a permanent installation because it’s a testing ground and they only have to last for a year”, adds Bosse. The temporary structure turned out to be “freeing” rather than a challenge for both the design team and the client, the Frankford CDC.

Kim Washington from the Frankford CDC and Ian Litwin from the City Planning Commision have been working on Destination Frankford and its many projects for a while now, including the more recent pop-up gallery done in conjunction with Philadelphia Sculptors this summer. When it came to the Frankford Pause, Washington and Litwin asked Bosse and her team to design a “crazy… unusual park that would bring people to the neighborhood”. This way the park “is not only for Frankford, but will create a destination where people can go and say “Hey, this is a pretty cool neighborhood”, says Bosse. This is how the park became laced with an attention getting hot pink.

With the intention of creating the desire for a permanent park, the design team made sure to make it easy to maintain the Pause long term if need be. The name however, reflects not just the brevity of the park but its location. While taking a tour of the site in order to become acquainted with the area, the team had to take a “Frankford Pause” in their conversation and wait for the El to pass by. The El has been passing through Frankford for almost 100 years and its clamor is such an integral part of the neighborhood, that Bosse and the team couldn’t help but be inspired by the noise. This translated not only into the park’s name but its design.

Ari Miller woke up one night with an idea in the shape of a megaphone. Instead of trying to work around the noise of the train, Miller had the idea to shape the park like a megaphone and have the noise be a part of the Pause. The loops in the park resemble a distorted megaphone and to add to the experience the overhead lighting also works with the noise. As the train passes by the lights will illuminate from one end and get dimmer as the noise fades away.

On the opposite end of the park, Washington requested a stage. Any type of event can now be held on Frankford Avenue, from musical performances to rallies, etcetera. And the music or other sounds from those events will also cause the lights to illuminate where it is the loudest and dim where it is quiet.

Another component added to the park is a community garden curated by the Frankford CDC. It will be maintained by both staff and children from the community. And finally, the designers built a series of platforms and planting beds on the northern wall, as well as seats.

Bosse, Miller, and the rest of the team “didn’t go into it with an idea” of what to do with the assignment. But the neighborhood of Frankford took care of that and inspired them. As they “took it in… the train had the biggest impact” and brought to life the Frankford Pause.

Photos courtesy of Community Design Collaborative and Destination Frankford.

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NAC Meeting Gets Zoning Update

There were no active zoning cases to discuss at the Neighborhood Advisory Committee meeting on March 13th.  However Ian Litwin from the City Planning Commission and Hakim Mubarak from Councilwoman Sanchez office discussed the remapping of Frankford for zoning.

Last year the new zoning code was approved.  Now it is time to look at the mapping of Frankford to see where it can be improved.  Remapping examines each area of the neighborhood to determine if it has the appropriate code.  For instance, there is a new zoning code for light industrial/residential.  Some areas of Frankford Avenue and the Glove Dye works would benefit from being zoned that way.  Other areas might be now be zoned for multi family use but are in fact used as single family homes.  That area would then be zoned for single family.

More news on the issue will be coming in future meetings as this process moves along.

The next NAC meeting will be on April 10th at 7PM at the Second Baptist Church at 1801 Meadow Street.

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Destination Frankford

Destination Frankford, all aboard.DF Logo_RGB-white

It all started with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC).  I attended all of the meetings last year during the planning process for the Lower Northeast District Plan, a component of Philadelphia2035.  The first thing I noticed was that Ian Litwin, the head planner, was actually saying good things about Frankford.  The emphasis was on the strengths of the community and seeing Frankford through new eyes gave me hope that something might come of it.

After the plan was adopted, an application was made to Artplace for a grant to begin implementing some of the concepts.   The grant came through and we are now about to see some results.  Destination Frankford will create a vibrant public space in Womrath Park, artfully designed signage and street furniture, a storefront dedicated to local artists, and an arts-focused marketing campaign.

The project will increase exposure to Frankford’s growing arts scene, add vibrancy to Frankford’s commercial corridor, and attract new artists, businesses, and residents to Frankford.

It sound ambitious and it is but remarkably it is a reality.  We are proud to be partners in this project and will be working on stories that highlight the arts, artists and artisans in Frankford.

You can read all about it on the Destination Frankford web site at this link.


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Saturday, March 2nd: Frankford Transportation Center Community Visioning Workshop

On Saturday, March 2nd the City’s Planning Commission is hosting a community visioning workshop focused on the Frankford Transportation Center. The event will take place from 10:00a to 1:00p at Frankford Aria Health, 4900 Frankford Avenue, in the 2nd floor conference rooms / cafeteria.
We hope you will be able to join – and please help us spread the word for what will surely be a productive morning!