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5 Questions: Sam Sherman, at PARC

Here are 5 Questions, a regular feature in which we check in with a prominent figure in the neighborhood and pick their brain for a handful of answers. To suggest someone you have a few questions for, email us at

Sherman, via
For this installment, we sat down with Sam Sherman, director of the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation, which has brought us such recent hits as the avenue’s facade improvement program and the impending valet parking stands. An experienced real-estate developer, Sherman took the job leading the newly formed PARC in January 2011with the mission to right the ship after its predecessor Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods was looted by its founder and benefactor, former state Sen. Vince Fumo.

But that’s all in the past. Here, we chat about the future, including possible parks, avenue entertainment and the ever-important debate of what to do with the King of Jeans sign.

Passyunk Post: What makes this hood so attractive to people?
Sam Sherman:
I think its proximity to Center City. The fact that this neighborhood is connected via a reliable transit system by bus, plus you have three subway stations in close proximity. It’s affordable, but it’s also so close to Center City that people can work there, and live without a car, and housing prices down here have not exploded like they have in other parts of the city. They’ve gone up, but it’s still affordable on a middle class salary.
PP: What’s the biggest obstacle around these parts?
Schools. And I think this speaks to the entire city but especially down here, long-term. I think you have a lot of young parents with toddlers, so in 10 or 15 years are they still gonna want to be here and send their kid to a public school or parochial or private charter schools? The second biggest obstacle – you have these beautiful parks. You have Columbus and Capitolo, and long-term, PARC is going to be interested in helping the city maintain and improve those public spaces because parks are important for recreation, but also for sitting, having some green space to look at. Improving access to green space, by creating more pocket parks, like we did at the fountain. More amenities like that will help it make it a softer, gentler place to live and make it more attractive for people who want to move here.PP: So, you’ve got your eyes on 12th and Reed?
I’ve had some preliminary discussions with some of the community groups and people who have an interest in that park. The question is, how much is it gonna cost and how long is it gonna take? It would require collaboration with the city, so that’s a longer term thing that we’re working on. But its something we have to understand that has to be done at some point.
PP: What do you think about live entertainment for the avenue?
It would have to be managed properly.The real question is, is it music, is it theater, is it musical, is it a performing arts center? As opposed to a bar that happens to have a stage with an amplifier. And the other thing you have to remember is those types of venues have to be managed very, very carefully and I, personally, would rather see a performing arts venue that you could go in a theater style setting, where you could go see a play, or a band. Kind of like TLA or the Arden. The question is, on the avenue where’s the space.
[We suggested below the avenue on Juniper Street]
Or the bank that’s now vacant at Snyder and Broad. If you have two methadone clinics, a Dunkin Donuts, a McDonald’s and a dollar store, who are they gonna complain to? Because that is the gateway to the avenue, and if you’re going to do something like that, that’s the place to do it. Because you’re not bumping right up against residential, you’re right at a transit stop. There’s a parking garage right across the street. And it’s an anchor because then it has the potential to change the dynamic of that block.PP: Tough question. Where do you come down on the King of Jeans sign? Should it be saved?
I think it should be saved. I understand that as a developer, keeping that sign on the building is probably impractical, but there might be a place for it where you could – I don’t know where you would put it on the avenue. There’s some people that want to burn it in effigy. They want to chop it into pieces and burn it. But you know, I think it’s become an iconic thing. Whether you love or hate it, at least everyone has an opinion. That says something about that, that there’s passion on both sides.This was but a snippet of our conversation, so are there any other questions you have for Sherman you want to know? Let us know in the comments and we just might have the answer.



4 Responses to 5 Questions: Sam Sherman, at PARC

  1. Anonymous September 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    A (classy) entertainment venue at Broad and Snyder would be amazing for the neighborhood–both Passyunk and Newbold. I’m behind that 100000%. I’m sure some of the other businesses around there would appreciate it too, especially Melrose.

  2. P'unk September 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    That’s what we thought. Now all wee have to do is wrangle up some money! You got any?

  3. Anonymous September 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    No, but I bet between the two Newbold Civic/Neighborhood Associations, Passyunk, and South Broad Street Neighborhood Association we could come up with some ideas. I always thought Snyder/West Passyunk is the perfect place for a big street festival. Maybe we could raise some funds through something like that ;)

  4. David G September 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Sure, Snyder would be great, but I’m not sure how the economics would work: bank buildings are _hard_ to deal with. I’m also interested to see what happens with The Dolphin, now that it’s closed. They already have all the appropriate permits for live entertainment (including music).

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