We have more news to share about the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue in the Cedar Park neighborhood in West Philadelphia. A few weeks ago, a small public meeting was held at Seeds Gallery at 5011 Baltimore Ave. by its owner, Sabda Tedla, and local developer Ryan Spak, about their idea to create a garden center on the grass lot at the southeastern corner of 51st & Baltimore, owned by the Spak Group.
In West Philadelphia, as the Baltimore Avenue commercial corridor has strengthened, it has continued to crawl west block by block. The relocation of the Mariposa Coop to 48th & Baltimore in the spring of 2011 marks one of the more prominent landmarks in the corridor's westward crawl from Clark Park to Cedar Park.
Out in Cedar Park, on the 5000 block of Baltimore Ave., plans for new businesses keep coming, adding to an already diverse neighborhood neighborhood that in recent months has seen new businesses open and old ones burn, literally.
Sometime early next year, Babylon Bistro should open at 5021-23 Baltimore Ave., properties we wrote about last year when they went up for sale. This fusion restaurant from the folks at Aksum will offer breakfast all the time like Eggs Vita: 2 poached eggs on an English muffin with smoked salmon and guacamole, as well as speciality sandwiches and classic American and International dishes. After months of litigation because the seller tried to back out of an agreement of sale, Saba Tedla, who also opened Seeds Gallery at on this block last summer, acquired the buildings in January for $283K.
“Someone has to take the plunge, essentially,” said owner Saba Tedla
In West Philly, Baltimore Avenue near Cedar Park has seen numerous businesses come and go in the past year or so.
Last March, the Mariposa Food Co-op moved a few blocks west to 4824 Baltimore Ave., into a much larger (and cooler-looking) space than they previously inhabited. Prior to Mariposa's arrival, the adjacent building was renovated, and Urban Traveler opened in retail space. One of its unique features was a humidor room that we told you about last spring. But that room was never finished and Urban Traveler closed before its first birthday. According to Michael Froehlich, Cedar Park Neighbors president, community members are unsure whether the building’s owner has plans for a new tenant.
Cliché be damned, in Cedar Park, neighbors are showing how seriously they take being members of a community. When Elena's Soul (4912 Baltimore) caught fire on Christmas Eve, its subsequent demolition toppled more than one business. Its neighbors on each side caught wind of falling debris to such an extent, owners were forced to close as well.
Three closed businesses
At the Cedar Park Café (also 4912 Baltimore), which opened last year, the felled forces crashed through the roof. Gary’s Nail’s (4910 Baltimore) was bordered up around the turn of the New Year.
If you can’t judge a book by its cover, can you judge a neighborhood by its structures?
At Aksum, just outside of University City at 47th & Baltimore, owner Saba Tedla combined two storefronts, a former African and Asian grocer and an African clothing store, gutted the interior and made renovations concordant with the area’s local historical district specifications. The windows open accordion-style along the 40 foot storefront to let in the atmosphere of the neighborhood.
“It was one of the things I think the neighborhood lacked,” said Tedla about her Mediterranean kitchen. She also opened Seeds Gallery this past summer at 50th & Baltimore.
The kitchen’s red interior walls, contrasted against its black outdoor columns provide an aura of open space. Aksum was awarded the extreme makeover award in this year’s Citywide Storefront Challanges, hosted by the City’s Department of Commerce and the Community Development Corporation.
As we predicted just the other day, there’s more commercial love planned for the western end of Baltimore Avenue in West Philly. This time, in the form of art.
Seeds Gallery will open the weekend of July 27 at 5011 Baltimore Ave., the former location of a Rock School known for blasting its amplifiers every weekend at 9am, exposing the locals to the licks of 12-year-old guitarists playing Crazy Train.
Since October, Seeds has existed in mobile form, showcasing artists’ work at restaurants, cafes and law firms.
“Our perspective is the art has to go where the people are,” said owner Saba Tedla, who also owns Askum, the Mediterranean kitchen located at 47th and Baltimore (which opened last July 27, hence the correlation in dates).
Tedla said they’ll focus on seeding artists into the community. She said Seeds wants to develop a relationship with its exhibiting artists that extends beyond the dates of their showcase.