Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker (9th District) was joined by Mayor James F. Kenney and Philadelphia Commerce Director Harold Epps last week to announce a quarter-million dollar revitalization project on Vernon Road, a neighborhood commercial corridor in Mt. Airy.
“Investing in Vernon Road has been a top priority for me and the community for over a decade,” Councilwoman Parker said. “This announcement gives reason and cause to celebrate because we have worked with our neighbors to advocate for this much needed investment. This project models the benefits of strong public and private partnerships, and our commitment to investing in and transforming neighborhood commercial corridors. With more than 71 percent homeownership rates and over a dozen long-term businesses on this avenue, our residents and small business owners are seeing their tax dollars at work.”
The project, which is funded by public and private money, includes storefront façade improvements; installation of pedestrian-scale lighting and restoration of the recess lighting implanted in the businesses; streetscape enhancements; new signage and banners branding the community as Mt. Airy; trash receptacles to encourage cleanliness; beautification of the island at the intersection of Michener Avenue and Vernon Road; and, most importantly, new security cameras for each of the businesses to increase public safety.
“Investment in all of our neighborhoods is essential to the future success of Philadelphia,” said Harold T. Epps, director of the city’s Commerce Department. “The revitalization project on Vernon Road will not only enhance the commercial corridor by increasing foot traffic and attracting new businesses, it will also have a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhood. These improvements will create a safe and easily accessible commercial corridor, providing more local options for purchasing goods and services and driving economic growth in the area.”
In addition to funding through Commerce’s Storefront Improvement Program and the Business Security Camera Program, the Vernon Road Revitalization Project will also receive money from the state’s Department of Community & Economic Development, through the advocacy of State Senator Art Haywood (4th District) and State Representative Tonyelle Cook–Artis (200th District).
“Neighbors have invested in this community,” said Sen. Haywood. “We are investing in this area to support the neighbors and the businesses that support the neighbors. Thank you to Councilwoman Parker for her leadership.”
“For over a decade, I’ve worked to support the residents and small businesses in this district,” Rep. Cook-Artis said. “Our efforts to address the longstanding plight of this corridor began with community meetings and cleanings. I am excited, not only as the State Representative serving this district, but as a long-time resident, to see this project come to fruition. A revitalization change is coming, and this is just the beginning.”
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 home ownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers and revitalizing commercial corridors.
“Wells Fargo cares about our communities and we are making this investment in Mt. Airy USA to continue the revitalization effort to strengthen Philadelphia,” said Greg Redden, Wells Fargo’s regional president of Greater Philadelphia and Delaware. “Mt. Airy USA is actively leading efforts to help small businesses thrive along the Vernon Road corridor and we believe this grant will make a huge impact.”
Additional project partners include Mt. Airy USA Community Development Corporation, Masjidullah Economic Development in America (MEDINA) Community Development Corporation, and Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.
“We are excited about the opportunity to work with all these groups to invigorate Vernon Road. We really believe that we can do more together and we’re grateful for the funding from Wells Fargo, the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, and the PA Department of Community & Economic Development to make it happen. We look forward to working together with MEDINA CDC and Councilwoman Parker to realize the vision for this corridor,” said Brad Copeland, Executive Director of Mt. Airy USA.
“The Vernon Road commercial strip is the face and personality of this community. That’s why this revitalization is so important. We at the MEDINA CDC are thankful for our partnership with Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, the Mt. Airy CDC, Wells Fargo Bank, Mayor James Kenney, and the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce,” said Mikal Shabazz, Chairman of the Board of Directors for MEDINA CDC.
“We now have the opportunity to breathe new life into this corridor and this community, and I want to thank Mayor Kenney, Director Epps, Chairman Shabazz, Pastor Waller and all our partners for working to advance this project. Our neighborhoods deserve this level of investment and much more, and I look forward to working with stakeholders to continue our mission to bring quality resources to our communities and neighborhood commercial corridors,” said Councilwoman Parker.
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Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker is in her first term representing the 9th Council District. Parker previously served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives serving the 200th Legislative District. More information at phlcouncil.com/CherelleParker