A couple of weeks ago, the Inquirer ran a story about the Columbia Avenue riot of 1964. Even fifty years later, the effects of this event can be felt on what is now called Cecil B. Moore Avenue, a once vibrant commercial corridor that never fully recovered. With a student housing boom, some blocks close to Temple have experienced redevelopment in recent years. But further away from the school, there's still a ton of blight and vacancy. Take, for instance, the south side of the 2100 block:
We passed by this block last week and discovered that it's very much under construction. Rather than residential development, as you might first expect, this will instead be a relocated community wellness center.
When the Stephen Klein Wellness Center opens its doors early next year, it will replace the Saint Elizabeth Wellness Center. The new facility, larger than the one it's replacing, will offer primary care, behavioral health, dental care, a pharmacy and a Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA with babysitting services. Project HOME, Jefferson, the Middleton Partnership and the aforementioned Mr. Klein are working together to make this project happen, and services will directly target the homeless and the formerly homeless.
No question, the wellness center will provide a much needed service in an area that's been short on many services for years. From a real estate standpoint, our hope is that one less giant vacant lot on Cecil B. Moore Avenue inspires additional development on surrounding blocks, particularly pushing west. But make no mistake, this is a big step.