City to Seek Development Proposals for Historic Germantown YWCA

Germantown YWCA | Google

Germantown YWCA | Google Street View image

The Germantown YWCA, a hulking, historic shell of a building on Germantown Avenue near Vernon Park, could be headed for a new life.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to redevelop the building next week, PRA Director Greg Heller told Philly Mag on Tuesday. The Authority isn’t putting any restrictions on the proposed use of the building in the RFP, Heller said.

“We want to see what developers come up with,” he said. Read more »

A First for Philly Schools: A High School Course in Drag

Germantown Friends School teacher Sara Gordon with some of the books she's using in the school's first-ever drag class.

Germantown Friends School teacher Sara Gordon with some of the books she’s using in the school’s first-ever drag class.

Germantown Friends is not your average Philadelphia school. A four-year high school education there will set you back more than $130,000 — about the same as a bachelor’s degree from Temple University, including room and board at Temple. And the students at the prestigious Quaker school aren’t just learning reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. Read more »

Fox Spottings Increasing in Philly’s Germantown Neighborhood

So far, they haven’t kept neighbors up at night howling at the moon (or is it wolves that do that?), but the foxes who have moved into Germantown have kept them talking for several months now.

The earliest mention of a fox in the neighborhood on the Facebook discussion group “Living in Germantown: All Together” came back in July, when resident Alima Umm Lam’yaa “spotted a FOX running down the street on Coulter near Morris earlier.”

Since then, there have been several more sightings; at least one case involved two foxes together. The most recent one was a “home invasion,” where G’towner Garlen Capita, a community planner at WRT Architects, photographed one on the front porch of a neighbor’s home in the 300 block of West Earlham Terrace. Read more »

New Wave: Jumpstart Germantown’s Developer Mentorship Program off to Great Start

A man works inside a home on Boyer Street in Germantown | via Ken Weinstein

A man works inside a home on Boyer Street in Germantown | Images via Ken Weinstein

It’s been about eight months since we’ve checked in with developer Ken Weinstein regarding the Jumpstart Germantown program, an incubator of sorts for people looking to get their foot in the door of real estate development. Typically, we’re asking him about his various workings in private development through his company Philly Office Retail, but the success of the mentorship program has really started to take hold and make an impact.

“What’s really hit me about the program is how much pent up demand there is for people who want to be in economic development,” said Weinstein. He added that he wants to take that demand from mere “coffee table talk” to a reality.

Though it may not be one of the booming neighborhoods that ring Center City, Germantown is one of the most affordable (and historic) places in the city. Getting into town and around the region is a relative breeze, as it offers great access to nearby highways, two train lines and multiple bus routes. The neighborhood has a lot going for it, including a spruced up Vernon Park, a growing business district, and plenty of opportunity for those looking to responsibly redevelop the aging or vacant housing stock, an area in the neighborhood that’s in desperate need of reinvestment.

“Of all the things we’ve done in the last 10 years, Jumpstart Germantowwn is one of our most exciting projects,” beamed Weinstein, who administers the growing program with one other Philly Office Retail staffer. “It will have more impact than most anything else we’ve worked on.”

Read more »

New Projects In Store for Seven Boys & Girls Club Branches in Philadelphia

Photo credit: Joseph Kaczmarek | Courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia

Photo credit: Joseph Kaczmarek | Courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia

Here’s some happy news for your mid-week slump: the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia and Comcast have teamed up to create “A Bold Change for Kids,” a capital campaign that’s aiming to raise $40 million, half of which would go to funding the construction of a new Germantown club! The rest, according to yesterday’s press release, would go to renovating the following club branches: Bridesburg, Northeast Frankford, Police Officer Lauretha Vaird, Shane Victorino Nicetown, Wayne Avenue, and Wissahickon.

Kicking off the new campaign is an $8 million donation from the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and the Roberts family. The new club will be named after Ralph J. Roberts, Comcast’s co-founder and a Penn graduate who spent his late adolescence in Germantown. Here’s an early rendering of the upcoming building by Friday Architects/Planners:

Read more »

Can New Developer Mentorship Program ‘Jumpstart’ Germantown?

Boarded up house on West Rockland Street in Germantown | Photo: Emaleigh Doley

Boarded up house on West Rockland Street in Germantown | Photo: Emaleigh Doley

Amidst the hoopla of the renovations and rebranding of The Gallery, a new flagship Wawa and some fuss about parking in South Philly, developer Ken Weinstein launched a program last week that could have an immediate and lasting impact on a struggling area in the Great Northwest riddled with blighted properties that have long-plagued the neighborhood.

Weinstein officially kicked off his “Jumpstart Germantown” mentorship and training program aimed at empowering small scale and novice developers with the know-how and funds to buy and renovate as many of those run down houses as quickly as possible. The “ripple effect”–as he put it–would be that the community of Germantown stabilizes, one rehabbed house at a time. It also wouldn’t hurt to get a lot of these properties back on the city’s tax rolls. There’s only one catch for the free program: applicants must have some connection to Germantown.

There are three points  of emphasis with Jumpstart Germantown: Mentoring, Networking and Funding. Since the program started on Wednesday, Weinstein said they have already gotten 12 applications and expects somewhere in the neighborhood of “50 to 60” by the time the first class of eight developers is selected on May 13. “We have a preference for women and minority developers,” said Weinstein, the president of Philly Office Retail, a development company focusing on commercial real estate. Read more »

Restoration Project Planned for Vernon Park

Image via Google Street VIew

Image via Google Street View

Well, we can see why Councilwoman Cindy Bass might feel adamant about preserving the YWCA on Germantown Ave for future use as a potential community center: steps away from the historic structure is Vernon Park, a green space slated to see several enhancements this March, according to NewsWorks’ Queen Muse:

Some of the key changes to the park include landscape and pathway improvements, new children’s playground equipment, the addition of adult fitness equipment and restoration of the park’s monuments and statues.

The Vernon Park project, due to rack up a cost in the $1 million dollar ball park, is scheduled to have a groundbreaking ceremony on February 24th. However, Muse writes that official construction in certain sections of the park won’t happen until March.

Read more »

Brand New Queen Lane Apartments Will Have Wednesday Groundbreaking

The demolished Queen Lane Apartments building via Google Street View.

The demolished Queen Lane Apartments building via Google Street View.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority has announced that it will break ground on the new Queen Lane Apartments development in Germantown on December 17th.

Expected to reach completion before this time next year, the project will consist of 55 apartment units with “a mix of low-rise flats, walkups, and townhouses.”

Read more »

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