Oxford Mills, billed as an “urban oasis for teachers and nonprofits,” held its grand opening last week in South Kensington, another step in revitalizing the neighborhood. Oxford Mills was once a dye works factory. It was later abandoned and has now been transformed into a hub for Philadelphia’s education community. The project is a mixed-use real estate development designed to provide low-cost housing for teachers as well as commercial space for educational nonprofits.
Paul Kihn, deputy superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, told the guests, “Oxford will be a great place for teachers to bond with other like-minded teachers, discuss curriculum, vent about their day, prepare for the future, and relax. … A development such as Oxford Mills will help attract good teachers to the city as well as retain the ones we already have.”
Oxford Mills was developed by Gabe Canuso and Greg Hill, D3 Real Estate Development, and a Baltimore company, Seawall Development Company, who had created a similar project called Miller’s Court in Baltimore. The complex has 114 apartments, with half of them earmarked for teachers who will rent them at a 25 percent discount. The retail includes Artwell, Education Plus, Interfaith Center for Greater Philadelphia, Teach for America, Grace and Glory Yoga, and Gryphon Coffee Company, which are available to the residents as well as the neighborhood.
Oxford Mills Urban Oasis Grand Opening »
Wednesday night the Mann Music Center celebrated the 2014 Party in The Park Gala with musical entertainment from Diana Ross, who is on her “In The Name Of Love” tour. The evening started off with a welcoming cocktail party before the 650 guests were ushered into the dinner tent to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by Stephen Starr catering, as well as a short program. The highlight of the dinner was a tribute to outgoing board chairman Justin P. Klein. (Chris Bruner, managing partner, Ernst & Young, LLP Philadelphia, is the new board chairman as of March 1st.)
Then it was time for the Diana Ross’ concert. I photographed Miss Ross at Radio City Music Hall in 2009, where she allowed the press 45 seconds to capture her image; at the Mann that time was cut back to 0 seconds, but I was able to get a semi-bad cell phone shot. It was a shame, because she looks as beautiful and flawless as ever. Her concert was nearly 70 minutes long with no intermission, and included 5 outfit changes, (10 if you count when she would drop her big bird-feathered coats).
The best part: she had a matching fan for each of the outfits, turquoise, yellow, white, green and blue (not her signature red, though.) She was generous throughout the show and fanned her fans as well as her band. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t acknowledge she was in Philadelphia — sticking with the script — but she smiled a lot and thanked the fans in her Miss Ross way.
She opened with “I’m Coming Out” to a cheering crowd, the highlight of the night had to be her “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that got even the people sitting in the front seats to stand and dance. She closed out the night with her anthem, adding her own touch to “I Will Survive,” and survive she has, 50 years after exploding onto the charts; Miss Ross is still going strong.
Mann Music Center’s Party in the Park Gala with Diana Ross »
It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about Bud Selig’s visit to Philadelphia and his comments about the Phillies being the most philanthropic team in the MLB. The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t too shabby, either. There’s Brent Celek’s “Take Flight” Foundation for kids’ education, DeMeco Ryan’s Foundation supporting children’s healthy eating, and Todd Herremans Foundation, which raises money for various children’s charities in need.
Now Connor Barwin has started a foundation called the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB is an acronym for his parents’ names: Margret Thomas and William Barwin). Friday night Barwin hosted a concert at Union Transfer to raise money for Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker Streets, a park in need of renovation that Barwin would pass on his bike rides to “work” from his Rittenhouse Square residence. Plans were already underway to revitalize the park; they just needed that extra push — including money to meet the goals set out by the organizations that were in place, including Urban Roots, the ACE Mentor Program, and the Philadelphia Water Department.
The major fundraiser to get them over the hurdle was held Friday night at Union Transfer where Connor Barwin hosted a VIP cocktail party were fans could meet their favorite players. Afterward there was a concert where Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Districts and The Tontons played to a sold-out crowd. The artists donated their services to the organization as did the music hall, along with all proceeds from the bar that evening. When the total is tallied, Connor Barwin is going to match it. In no time, the Ralph Brooks Park will be a safe place for kids to play again.
Connor Barwin’s Make The World Better Foundation’s Ralph Brooks Park Fundraiser »
Last night, Rittenhouse Square held its annual Ball on the Square. Nearly 370 well-dressed guests attended. The dress was jackets for guys and gowns for women enduring the near summer heat and humidity for a good cause.
The annual celebration brings much-needed funds for the maintenance of the popular square; last night it was especially sweet as the Friends of Rittenhouse Square met their goal for the One Million Dollar Preservation Campaign. The campaign started under last year’s ball chairs Mary Parenti and Lynn Schecter, and was completed with the efforts of the 2014 ball chairs Janice Birenbaum and Nina Stanley and the ball committee.
Today, walking through the park you can see the improvements: increased lighting, security cameras, the restored and cleaned balustrade, and the illuminated guardhouse and lion. Next up: The restoration of the fountain.
Rittenhouse Ball on the Square »
The ICON 1616 apartments opened with great fanfare on Tuesday night. The party at 1616 Walnut Street featured flappers welcoming guests to the newly renovated 25-story apartment building (it was built in 1929), songs from the enchanted era sung by Jessy Kyle, and small-plate dishes by Brulee catering.
Over the years the building has housed the offices of a few of Philly’s well heeled, then in the aughts it housed Temple University’s Center City campus. In 2013 it underwent a $50 million redevelopment with 220 luxury smoke-free apartments, a sky deck, gym, media and billiards room, bike storage, 160 parking spaces and 23,000 square feet of retail, which includes a Theory clothing store, Santander bank and Town Home jewelry store.
Now it’s ready for residents who want amenities and close proximity to many of the most desirable stores in the area as well as Rittenhouse Square.
Opening Party for Icon 1616 Apartments »
Last week the Barnes Foundation hosted an intimate dinner party for their trustees and supporters of their new exhibit “The World Is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne” which opens at the Barnes on Sunday, June 22nd, and runs through September 22nd. The show features 21 borrowed works from museums and private collections from around the world.
The exhibit was curated by Judith F. Dolkart — the Barnes curator who has since departed from the museum to become director of the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusettes — and Benedict Leca, director of curatorial affairs at the Hamilton art gallery.
The World Is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne »
More than 1,200 guests attended the 9th Annual Great Chefs Event on Tuesday, June 10th. The yearly eating party thrown by Philadelphia superchef Marc Vetri was held at Urban Outfitters in the Navy Yard, with proceeds going to help Alex’s Lemonade Stand eradicate childhood cancer, and to the Vetri Foundation for Children. Neuroblastoma took Alex Scott’s life when she was eight, and her parents, Jay and Liz Scott, carry on her goal of helping doctors find a cure for the disease.
The event attracts four dozen top chefs from the U.S. and Italy who created delicious dishes that people raved over all night long. The event featured a live auction that brought in $80,000 and a silent auction — which included clothing, lavish trips, sports tickets and experiences — that raised nearly $100,000.
Later that evening I headed over to Vetri’s restaurant on North Broad, Alla Spina, for the after-party. There I found many of the volunteer chefs, sponsors and ticketed guests enjoying a delicious spread by the Vetri Family, and friends including Sweet Box Bakery, Debragga meat, Nomad Pizza to name a few. Behind the turntables was The Roots’ Questlove, who appears at the after-party annually and packs the dance floor from start to finish. It’s always a highlight of the evening.
Marc Vetri’s 9th Annual Great Chefs at Urban Outfitters »
Tuesday as the weather raged outside, inside the University of the Arts the Philadelphia Public School Notebook celebrated its 20th anniversary with a party. The Notebook started out as a handout at supermarkets and community meetings, one chock-full of information on what was going on in the city’s public schools, how the school board was dealing with issues, and what concerned parents and community members could do.
These days it’s grown into a full-blown, highly respected journal which the public relies on for information on the education of children in Philadelphia. Even though schools superintendent William Hite has been the target of criticism in some of the articles written in The Notebook, he still took time out of his schedule to make an appearance at the party, and wish them well on their continued success.
Philadelphia Public School Notebook’s 20th Anniversary Gala »
Last week the Career Wardrobe hosted its 28th Annual gala, “A Perfect Fit: Empowering 18,” at the Crystal Tea Room in Center City.
The evening started with a cocktail party where guests enjoyed buffet stations of delicious appetizers and dinner. During the cocktail party guests were able to participate in an extensive silent auction. This year there were many more items, as they no longer do the signed pocketbook live auctions during the dessert portion of the evening. I did spot one purse on a table signed by Colin Farrell which was left over from last year.
At around 7 p.m., guests were ushered into the grand ballroom for dessert, coffee and the program, which included the very popular fashion show with local news reporters, notable Philly businesswomen, and former clients if the Career Wardrobe. The proceeds from the event go toward helping ease the transition of women from welfare to work via education, empowerment programs and what to wear to make entering the workforce as easy as possible.
Did you know you can pick up decent second-hand clothing from the Wardrobe Boutique store at 1822 Spring Garden Street?
Career Wardrobe’s 28th Annual Gala »
Last night at the Independence Visitor Center Philadelphia FIGHT hosted its kickoff party for AIDS Education Month, a series of classes, awareness events, and parties throughout the month, featuring a free hip-hop performance by Wale at the Trocadero on National HIV Testing Day, Friday, June 27th.
At last night’s event, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Ph.D., a French virologist and director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Division at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, was presented with the 2014 Kiyoshi Kuromiya award. Dr. Barré-Sinoussi, who also serves as president of the International AIDS Society, received the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the co-discovery of HIV.
Check out photos of Philadelphia FIGHT’s honoring of Françoise Barré-Sinoussi »