The $310,000 project includes storefront façade improvements, installation of cameras, planters and more
PHILADELPHIA – October 20, 2018 – Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker (9th District) was joined by Mayor Jim Kenney, State Senator Art Haywood, Philadelphia Commerce Director Harold T. Epps and several other community, business, labor and religious leaders to cut the ribbon on an award-winning revitalization project on the Vernon Road Commercial Corridor in East Mt. Airy.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to deliver these long overdue improvements to neighbors and business owners, who have been working with us to transform Vernon Road for more than a decade,” Parker said. “This project models the benefits of strong public and private partnerships, as well as our commitment to investing in and transforming our neighborhood commercial corridors and stabilizing our middle neighborhoods. With homeownership rates greater than 70 percent and several long-term businesses on this avenue, our residents and small business owners are seeing their tax dollars at work.”
The project, which was funded via a public-private partnership between the City, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Wells Fargo, includes 14 storefront façade improvements; converting street lights to new LED lighting; new signage and banners branding the commercial corridor and community as Mt. Airy; installation of BigBelly trash bins, planters and tree lights; beautification of the island at the intersection of Michener Avenue and Vernon Road; and, most importantly, new security cameras to increase public safety. The storefront design received the Best Block Impact Award from the Philadelphia Department of Commerce and Community Design Collaborative as part of the 2018 Storefront Challenge.
“Philadelphia’s commercial corridors are the lifeblood of the city,” Kenney said. “They are vital to the economy, and act as the centers of our communities. Investments like the ones made on Vernon Road will help drive revitalization across the city and breathe new life into our neighborhoods.”
“We have seen time and time again that by investing in our city’s commercial corridors, we can impact entire communities,” said Epps. “The work we do in the Department of Commerce is focused on supporting businesses, but storefront improvements, streetscaping and other projects also benefit the community at-large. Not only do these improvements give residents a sense of pride, they also help attract visitors and new businesses.”
In addition to funding through Commerce’s Storefront Improvement Program and the Business Security Camera Program, the Vernon Road Revitalization Project also received public money from the state’s Department of Community & Economic Development, through the advocacy of Sen. Haywood (4th District) and former State Rep. Tonyelle Cook–Artis (200th District).
“I am delighted to see the revitalization efforts of Vernon Road happen.” Haywood said, “I want to thank the City of Philadelphia, Councilwoman Cherelle Parker for her leadership on this important project, as well as the community partners involved as it creates a safer, cleaner and more environmentally conscious area for residents to be proud of.”
“The Vernon Road Corridor Revitalization Project was a much-needed improvement on Vernon Road,” Cook-Artis said. “As a person who grew up near this area, I have witnessed the transformation over the years. This project was fifteen years in the making and I am very proud to have been a part of helping to make this project come to fruition as a former staffer and state representative. Special kudos to Councilwoman Parker, Pastor Waller, Commerce and, most importantly, the community.”
The private funding for the project was provided by Wells Fargo’s Neighborhood LIFT® program, a $5 million investment in neighborhood recovery through strengthening access to homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers and revitalizing commercial corridors.
“Great things can happen when elected officials, private companies and everyday citizens work together—the revitalization of the Vernon Road commercial corridor is one of them,” said Anthony Rosado, Wells Fargo District Manager. “At Wells Fargo, we’re proud to be part of this initiative and we thank Mayor Kenney, Councilwoman Parker, and their teams as well as Mt. Airy USA and other constituent-driven organizations across the city, for the work they do every day to improve the lives of Philadelphians.”
Additional project partners include Mt. Airy USA Community Development Corporation, Masjidullah Economic Development in North America (MEDINA) Community Development Corporation, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, CICADA Architecture Design Firm and Fourth River Design Works.
“I want to thank all of our partners for working to advance this project. Our neighborhoods deserve this level of investment and much more, and I look forward to replicating this revitalization on other neighborhood commercial corridors throughout the 9th District,” said Parker.
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