Passyunk Square

Fundraiser coming up

Columbus Square is a wonderful South Philly park that serves a multitude of purposes. It's got a ball field, a soccer field, a dog park, a playground, a rec center, a spray field, a rose garden, and tons of neighborhood space along the outside of the park. But soon, it seems, this park which sits between 12th & 13th, Wharton & Reed Streets, should be getting a dose of reinvestment.

Entrance at 12th & Reed
Greenery at 13th & Reed

Last year, the Community Design Collaborative worked with stakeholders in the neighborhood to put together a conceptual design for a remodeled Columbus Square Park. If the entire plan were to be enacted, the park would see some significant changes, including the reduction of the size of the sports fields, the demolition of the "roundhouse" structure in the first photo above, an expansion of the dog park, and the creation of a new community lawn area on Reed Street. The plan includes some additional recommendations, highlighted below:

Replacing rare vacant lots

It's not too often that we get to tell you about new construction homes coming to Passyunk Square. In other neighborhoods, like Point Breeze or Francisville, plentiful vacant land encourages rampant residential development. But Passyunk Square doesn't have so much vacant land, so much of the development in the neighborhood involves demolition and rebuilding, like the site of the old Armory building, or renovation of existing buildings like the work of PARC on Passyunk Avenue. But every now and then, we come upon some vacant lots in the neighborhood, like those at 1108 Greenwich St., which should soon get redeveloped.

The lots

Earlier this month, developers appeared before the Passyunk Avenue Civic Association to present plans for two homes with parking. According to the PSCA website, the community voted not to oppose the project. Once the homes are built, it will fill in a gap on an adorable block that flows directly into Passyunk Avenue. 

Any help would be great

We admit it, the Philadelphia street grid makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. When the grid breaks down though, we have problems; heck, we still get lost about 30% of the time we go to Fishtown. South Philly is pretty safe, grid-wide, with the notable exceptions of Moyamensing Avenue, Point Breeze Avenue, and Passyunk Avenue diagonaling things up for everyone. Sometimes, those diagonal streets hit the grid in such a way that a scary and chaotic intersection gets created. Which brings us to the six-point intersection of Reed Street, 10th Street, and Passyunk Avenue.

Scary intersection

This intersection sucks for everyone. Drivers get impatient and sometimes get stuck in the middle of the intersection. Pedestrians, especially considering the number of people from outside the neighborhood visiting Passyunk Avenue, can get confused. And as an added bonus, there's some metal tracks in the street from a discontinued trolley line to make bike travel a little more dangerous.

Finally, it seems the City has recognized that this intersection could stand to see some improvement, and a project is now underway to make it safer. According to Passyunk Post, the $400K project will expand curbs to reduce crossing distances, add pedestrian signals, improve sidewalks, and include other traffic-calming efforts. There aren't plans for any greenery to be added, but PARC is attempting to at least get some tree pits to be used at a later date. The project, when we passed by the other day, was humming along.

They keep doing good stuff

Over the last couple of years, the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation has renovated a number of buildings on and near Passyunk Avenue, improving the corridor one property at a time. Thanks to their efforts, the Avenue now has a comic book shop, Will BYOB, and a new Fond location, among other stuff. And soon, PARC will renovate the former Colombo's to accomodate a new steak house, and will oversee the construction of a new gateway to Passyunk Avenue. But at the moment, they're working on a renovation of 1520 E. Passyunk Ave., most recently home to Karina's restaurant.

Replacing a surface lot

A surface parking lot near Passyunk Avenue could soon disappear, provided developers get ZBA approval to build two homes on the northeast corner of 12th & Tasker. From what we can tell looking at public record, physician William Zaccone purchased the lots a few years ago, perhaps to use as parking for his medical practice down the street. We're unsure as to whether the project is coming from the doctor himself or from a developer that's buying his lots.

The lots
Looking toward Passyunk Ave.

It appears as though the project went before the Passyunk Square Civic Association back in April, but it got punted because the developers didn't have drawings to show the community. It was continued at the ZBA in April, though it's scheduled to go back soon. Will it be continued again, or will it get approval and move forward?