Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: Strawberry Mansion, North Philadelphia 'hood

  1. #1
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    190

    Strawberry Mansion, North Philadelphia 'hood

    This spring, we're in the process of preparing a strategic plan for Upper Strawberry Mansion. Following are a small samples of the photos I took over several visits to the area, which lies about 3 miles northwest of Center City, just east of Fairmount Park.

    The built environment contains a variety of houses, and varying levels of stability. There are well-maintained blocks of tidy houses, and there are blighted blocks with deteriorated and abandoned houses.


    Blight is contageous, like a disease. On tightly packed streets with 16 foot wide lots, just abandoned house out of dozens can destroy an entire block's sense of order and stability.


    What do we do with these abandoned houses? Phildelphia's "Neighborhood Transformation Initiative," a modern day incarnation of slum-clearance, would tear down this entire block, and it would sit vacant for years to come. Market pressures from neighborhoods closer to Center City are years, probably decades away.

    Or do we leave them standing, and hope there will be money from some program to fix these up? But who would buy them? And where would the impoverished residents move to once their property tax bills start to skyrocket? Interestingly, Upper Strawberry Mansion has a homeownership rate of about 65%, which is higher than Philadelphia's as a whole.



    Most middle class households just don't want to live in 2 bedroom houses with 1 bathroom and no parking. (Though, parking is not currently an issue in this transit-dependent community. About half of all workers ride the bus (just the bus, no train) to work.). It seems, at least to me, understandable that families who fell into some money back in the 1950's and 1960's left the neighborhood in droves for, among other reasons, some breathing room. Of course, I know plenty of folks who would love to lived in a dense rowhouse neighborhood (I'm a planner, after all). But I know plenty more who would refer to this as sub-standard by design.









    Like many blighted neighborhoods, Strawberry Mansion is home to an automobile-oriented superblock shopping center, this one at 29th and Dauphin.


    Some blocks are in good shape.



    The NTI would love to demolish all of the abandoned buildings it can get its hands on, leaving gaps like this one.


    The only official way in and out, if they can help it.

  2. #2

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    You might check your coding, CC. Red Xs.

    I love Philadelphia Place Names. Strawberry Mansions!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    190
    Sorry folks, I'm a novice photo poster. Here are the images.













  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,628
    One method for rehab of the small rows could be incentives for people to be able to purchase adjoining rows and combine the two into one house.

    This would make the (preceieved) impractically of a one four room (i presume) row into a practical eight room house.

    At that point parking is probably the only problem.

    Or get some large immigrant groups to move in and give incentives, like Balimore's $1 house program, for easy access to property ownership, etc.

    Where exactly is this neighborhood? Could you doctor a map for us?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,351

    well....

    On first glance, the whole area looks like it OOOoooozes potential It just needs a kick start of some kind.....and as for the taxes.....they are what they are and something could be done about it if the State/City/County wanted to help badly enough....but they don't and neither do the voters I suppose, so I would get over that issue quickly and move onto finding ways to jump start that area.....I smell a trendy low entry cost transformation in the future Is there a rail stop nearby? Could there be a rail stop nearby? Would that help? How about a major retail center or business center of some kind?
    Skilled Adoxographer

  6. #6
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    at Babies R Us or Home Depot
    Posts
    1,260
    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    One method for rehab of the small rows could be incentives for people to be able to purchase adjoining rows and combine the two into one house.

    This would make the (preceieved) impractically of a one four room (i presume) row into a practical eight room house.

    At that point parking is probably the only problem.

    Or get some large immigrant groups to move in and give incentives, like Balimore's $1 house program, for easy access to property ownership, etc.

    Where exactly is this neighborhood? Could you doctor a map for us?
    I wish Baltimore still had the $1 program. Some people who've bought houses in the late 70s and early 80s in areas like Bolton Hill and Fells Point are rapidly approaching $750K in value with no end in sight. Bolton Hill more so for character and size 3000 - 4000 + sq. feet. Fells Point most houses are less than 2500 sq. feet but the location near the harbor is what people are paying for. The city now has a program called SCOPE. It's a program where the City sells private citizens a house for like $30K, but it takes at least $150K for rehab costs. The catch is you have to spend like 5 years in the house to avoid speculation and 'flipping'.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  7. #7
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    at Babies R Us or Home Depot
    Posts
    1,260
    What are some the typical architectural differences between North and South Philly. In Baltimore, houses on the west side are bigger and more ornate than houses on the east side. Historically, houses on the east side have been workers' houses for Beth Steel and when Baltimore actually had a working harbor.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,130
    When I was in England I took a class in local history and the professor stated that the nicer homes for the middle class were built on the west side due to the fact that odors were carried from west to east by the wind.

  9. #9
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,628
    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983
    When I was in England I took a class in local history and the professor stated that the nicer homes for the middle class were built on the west side due to the fact that odors were carried from west to east by the wind.
    What does that have to do with reviving/rescuing abandoned quality neighborhoods in Philadelphia, PA?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,130
    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    What does that have to do with reviving/rescuing abandoned quality neighborhoods in Philadelphia, PA?
    It was a bit off topic, but NOS brought up that Baltimore's nicer neighborhoods were on the west side, and the working class areas were on the east side, and it made me think of that.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Posts
    410

    Baltimore

    The Jones Falls river flows northwest from downtown and for a long time (well into the 19th century) the only bridges over the Jones Falls were down by the harbor. So most residential development in the first half of the 19th century went westwards although the affluent tended to congregate north of downtown around the Washington Monument (the region now called Mount Vernon). When the bridges over the Jones Falls in Mount Vernon were built in the 1880s, affluent Baltimore started to move northwards and by 1900 the pattern of wealth was decidedly north towards the fox hunting country and the great planned communities of Roland Park/Guilford were built on the northern periphery of the city.

    But yes, West Baltimore was once solid middle class versus East Baltimore's working class.

    Another interesting comparison between Baltimore and Philadelphia: in Baltimore the large townhouses are three bays wide: a door and two windows on the first floor, three windows across on the second and third floors. In Philadelphia, however, the standard pattern is three bays on the ground floor and only two bays for the upper floors. Why is this case? Anyone know? As someone from Baltimore it was interesting to note the difference when I first came to Philadelphia.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,581
    Quote Originally posted by The One
    I smell a trendy low entry cost transformation in the future Is there a rail stop nearby? Could there be a rail stop nearby? Would that help? How about a major retail center or business center of some kind?
    http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp...searchtab=home

    I don't think so. This is just another crime-ridden neighborhood of dilapidated rowhouses. One of hundreds in the City of Philadelphia. The only "redeeming" quality is its close proximity to Faimount Park and the grand mansions fronting the park.

    There is no rail station nearby. However there is potential for a new Regional Rail station (R7 & R8 lines) at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Ridge Avenue. I doubt it would get much use though, with long headways as compared to area bus routes.

    And, I don't see parking as an issue at all. There is plenty of on-street parking, and similar neighborhoods in healthier cities (San Francisco, Boston, Washington) have had no problem regenerating without off-street residential parking.

    Plain and simply: Philadelphia has a vast oversupply of urban-style housing.

    The NTI is the only effective way to deal with this. Vacant and architecturally insignificant structures need to be demolished and less "urban" housing built in their stead.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,581
    Quote Originally posted by the north omaha star
    What are some the typical architectural differences between North and South Philly. In Baltimore, houses on the west side are bigger and more ornate than houses on the east side. Historically, houses on the east side have been workers' houses for Beth Steel and when Baltimore actually had a working harbor.
    North Philly and South Philly are too large to paint with one brush.
    Generally (individual city blocks are usually the same style and material):

    North Philly:

    1. Central south, close to center city: two-story brick rowhouses with limited details (basically blocks of brick walls with doors, windows and stoops), mostly demolished for urban renewal and housing projects.

    2. West and far north, bordering Fairmount Park: two- to three-story brick rowhouses, some made of stone, with trim, copper details, a few with porches.

    3. Southwest: gentrified versions of 1 above.

    South Philly:

    1. North, close to center city: colonial style brick two- to three-story rowhouses, with shutters, iron work, etc.

    2. Two story rowhouses with limited details (basically blocks of brick walls with doors, windows and stoops), vinyl awnings over doors and windows.

    West Philly:

    Two- to three-story rowhouses with trim, porches, made of brick and stone.
    Apartment buildings along main streets.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    The NTI is the only effective way to deal with this. Vacant and architecturally insignificant structures need to be demolished and less "urban" housing built in their stead.
    Ouch. People once said this about sections of cities like New York and DC that today fetch a pretty penny. I know we can all rattle off a number of "urban renewal" programs in every city in the country that bulldozed then-slum housing which would today be extremely valuable and sought-after were it still there. This kind of thinking is pretty shortsighted. Even in Philadelphia, parts of today's expensive "Northern Liberties" were pretty awful 20 years ago. "JuNoGi" anyone?

  15. #15
    ...and you might not even have to wait that long.

    Lofty Goals [City Paper]

    A young couple is hoping that artists' lofts will save their neighborhood.

    by Bruce Schimmel

    Haile Johnston was yanking another rotten timber out of his front porch when he heard the news. The old Eastern Electric factory around the corner—an abandoned hulk occupying the block between 30th and 31st along Cecil B. Moore—might return to life.

    "I was thinking, "Anything but a club.' The last thing I wanted was them pissing on my flowers," says Johnston. But club it would be, and that did not bode well for Johnston and his fiancee, Tatiana Granados.

    Johnston, 31, grew up in Germantown; Granados, 29, is from Guatemala. They met in a sculpture class at Penn. As Granados finished her MBA at Wharton, renting in Center City became too pricey. They also wanted to live near a park.

    While cycling on Kelly Drive, the couple found an inhabited but rough row home for $30,000 in East Park, along Fairmount Park in southern Strawberry Mansion. They have spent two years renovating their first home and organizing their neighborhood. And now this new club would be a noisy monster in the area.

    "It's huge," says Granados, of the 60,000-square-foot former factory. And since the fate of their neighborhood would follow this building, the young couple saw little choice. They drained their savings, squeezed their equity and bought the two-story, red brick neo-art deco behemoth for $80,000.

    And a fine behemoth is it, says Johnston. "It has windows big enough to throw a car out." With lots of light, open interiors and a location near the park, the couple saw its potential as commercial space for artists, artisans and nonprofits.

    The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) agreed and put up $150,000 in seed money for the project. The old factory bridges other TRF initiatives in Brewerytown and Lower Strawberry Mansion. Johnston expects about 50 tenants in the renamed Eastern Loft Building, which will cost an estimated $2 million for completion. Woodcock Design has been hired as architects.

    Now Granados and Johnston's hunt for tenants begins. "We're looking for cottage industries, like soap-makers, furniture-makers, frame shops, art stores, galleries. We're pitching the Mural Arts Program to put in a satellite workshop. We want a farmer's market and have met with Bob Pearson of Farm to City."

    They've had nibbles, says Johnston, but he admits that his nightmare is for potential tenants to survey the neighborhood "and say that there's no way I'm coming over here." Still he's hopeful. "One of the great things about artists is that they're fearless."

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    190
    It's been awhile since I've checked this thread. This map was among the several dozen we made using GIS and Illustrator for our presentation to the Strawberry Mansion CDC in our 'existing conditions' analysis.



    We're beginning our recommendations phase. jmello, I agree that the neighborhood's access to East Fairmount Park is its strongest asset, and probably greatest source of short-term potential. Crossing Ridge Ave. is a dicey proposition, and except Robin Hood Dell East (an amphitheater with summer concerts, just down the hill from Ridge Ave.) residents don't take advantage of the park's programming.

    Residents are, understandably, wary of the NTI. Though they've been effective in removing blighted properties, these vacant lots sit fallow, with no programming designed to put them to use, e.g. aquisition by neighborhing houses for side yards. Only when NTI aquires, say, entire blocks of houses are developers interested in building new housing, as the Westrum company is doing in Brewerytown, just south of Strawberry Mansion. Brewerytown is currently in the direct path of fast, unrelenting gentrification, and the existing, mostly poor residents feel broadsided. I suppose I'm not against the NTI, but we're going to do far more to engage the community.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    190
    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    ...and you might not even have to wait that long.
    LOL!! We've seen this article too. Yes, we know Haile and Tatiana. Our project for the CDC, which they are active on, could be considered their baby. They are definitely urban pioneers.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 16
    Last post: 30 Jan 2013, 7:47 PM
  2. Replies: 14
    Last post: 09 Nov 2012, 5:23 PM
  3. Replies: 14
    Last post: 20 Mar 2006, 1:38 PM
  4. Mega-mansion being torn down
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 10
    Last post: 27 Oct 2004, 10:59 PM
  5. Millionaires in da Hood
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 11
    Last post: 29 May 2003, 2:05 PM