The University City District (UCD) has been establishing itself as a major player in University City neighborhood relations. From the announcement of its recent plans to renovate the 40th Street Septa Trolley Portal, to their staff in leaf cleaning vehicles that travel the streets of West Philly via bike lanes, it’s hard to go somewhere along Baltimore Avenue and not see something UCD is involved with in some way.

As they have in the past, their efforts are stretching into Powelton Village, where the UCD organized and will soon implement a plan to install improved pedestrian lighting along the 3400 block of Lancaster Avenue.

34th and Lancaster

“I think the lighting plan is just another step to kind of brand Lancaster Avenue as a successful retail corridor,” said Geroge Poulin, past-president and current zoning chair of the Powelton Village Civic Association (PVCA). “Several years ago it was kind of no man’s land.”

Poulin said over the past few years Powelton Village has seen an increase in demand. The growth of University City is largely responsible for that. He pointed to the 3800 block of Lancaster in particular as a block that’s seen lots of recent development. In the past few years, Reeds Coffee and Tea House, opened at 3802 Lancaster Ave., Bodyrock, a rock climbing gym, opened at 3858 Lancaster. A number of galleries and eateries have also opened. Plus the Fresh Food Hub truck moves along the avenue offering fresh produce to residents.

35th and Lancaster

A few years ago UCD conducted a commercial corridor study along the avenue that excluded the 3400 block, which precipitated its staff members desire to get a project done on that block, hence the lighting plan, according to Poulin. Drexel University also plans to develop a 60K sqft facility at 34th and Lancaster, and the University City Science Center/Presbyterian expansion at 38th St. is just a block away from Lancaster. And the People’s Emergency Center has been instrumental in creating community events like Second Friday. It might be a far cry, but we can imagine a decade from now, a Powelton Village built up to meet the untapped demand represented by the thousands of long-term residents, university students, and faculty walking its streets- all with a revitalized Lancaster Avenue at its center.

–Lou Mancinelli