Category: Neighborhood News

Revealed: Secret Beauty of the Ruffin Nichols AME Church

A large number of Philadelphia’s old churches get demolished, some with great fanfare, others with little remark. When the Ruffin Nichols Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church and its school building went on the market for $899,900 in 2011, there was no Church of the Assumption-style outcry. But as the demolition has proceeded (rather slowly, it should be said), passers-by and urban-ruin fanatics have gasped in wonder as they’ve seen the half-standing remains with its gorgeous fresco.

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Living on the Edge (of the City) in Chestnut Hill

Chestnut Hill Living: An architectural stunner at 204 Sunrise Lane.

Chestnut Hill Living: An architectural stunner at 204 Sunrise Lane.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: Chestnut Hill Living Chestnut Hill sits at the northwest corner of Philadelphia, a one-of-a-kind neighborhood that simply oozes charm. It once stood as the gateway between Philadelphia and the nearby farms, and believe it or not, some of the city’s elite kept summer homes here because it was a few degrees cooler than [...]

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End the Fear: New AVI Information and Outreach Sessions Announced


Another day, another Actual Value Initiative panic attack. But fear not: Here’s a list of the latest drop-in outreach sessions and, as an added bonus for those who prefer not to leave their under- or overassessed homes, two telephone town halls. The sessions are described as offering one-on-one time with city staff members to have questions answered, including how to apply for the Homestead Exemption and how to apply for an appeal if you disagree with the assessment you got in the mail. IMPORTANT: Deadline for an appeal–called a First Level Review–is due by March 31st or 30 days after receipt of the Property Assessment Notice. Do not miss this deadline and complain later.

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The Coltrane House Finally Feels Philly’s Love Supreme

coltrane house

Photo by Bradley Maule via Hidden City

John Coltrane’s time in Philadelphia–featured this weekend on the radio show American Routes–was the fertile beginning of his development as a unique voice in jazz. He moved to the city as a teen from North Carolina and, along with formal lessons, was embraced by the thriving African-American jazz scene here and the many musicians who came in and out from New York. As one of the genre’s legends, Coltrane’s influence has been felt by generations, yet the properties he’s owned have had a rough time of it.

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AVI: Employing the Fine Art of Understatement


Philadelphia’s AVI debacle is beginning to garner national attention. Last week the Wall Street Journal ran a story headlined “City’s Tax Plan Vexes Homeowners”. The article noted, as others have, that the contentious impact of the overhaul is due in part to Philadelphia’s historically haphazard property-taxation practices. 

Maybe we’re splitting hairs, but the Journal didn’t get it exactly right. It’s not the historically haphazard property-taxing practices that are causing the contentious impact. Hell no, plenty of people were fine with haphazard–as long as they were being underassessed all these years.

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“Lotgate” and the Emotional Implications of Pea Gravel

lotgate houzz

Image: The City Outside

The garden next door to the OCF Coffee House’s Point Breeze location received some national attention this week from the always fun design website Houzz and contributor Becky Harris. While the article doesn’t give the address of the garden, it does say, “the owner of a new coffee shop in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze area hired artist and designer Becky Bourdeau to create an open urban garden space and inviting seating areas in an abandoned garbage-strewn plot out back.”

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Fairmount Whole Foods Gigantastore Gets One Step Closer to Reality (But Only One)

whole foods fair mount

Will there be Parmageddon at the new Whole Foods? Photo: Whole Foods Callowhill Facebook page.

On March 19, the City Planning Commission met to consider crunchy and delicious Bill 130136, which proposed to zone the 3-acre area bounded by Spring Garden Street, North 22nd, Pennsylvania Ave., Hamilton Street and North 21st as Commercial Mixed-Use–meaning, basically, that Whole Foods can now move in. But don’t get excited yet. This project has a looooong way to go.

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Long Live the Queen: 5 Reasons to Live in Queen Village

Charming interiors such as this B&B are reasons to live in Queen Village.

This charming B&B for sale in Queen Village is an excellent example of the charm found in many of the neighborhood homes.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: 5 Reasons to Live in Queen Village Bound by South Street and Washington Ave and Front and 6th Streets, Queen Village is the city’s oldest neighborhood, settled by the Swedes before the English even arrived, and home to the city’s oldest structure, the 1700 Old Swedes’ Church. After a period of urban blight [...]

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