It’s a helluva time to be a city planner in South Philly.
Only a couple weeks after the announcement that a “gateway” to Passyunk Avenue will be built at Broad and McKean, we’ve gotten word that the city is planning to make major improvements to the wide intersection where the avenue meets 12th and Morris streets.
Sam Sherman, director of the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation, said the plan is to improve pedestrian crossings, green the intersection, upgrade the lighting and raise the dead triangle in the middle to provide a spot for pedestrians.
Karen Fegely of the Commerce Department, which is spearheading the effort, said the city has budgeted $300,000 to improve safety for pedestrians and cars and to beautify the intersection. Design of the project will occur over the next few months, with a projected start date of late this year or early in 2015.
“East Passyunk Avenue is a thriving neighborhood commercial corridor with a lot of commercial density and a lot of foot traffic,” she said. “Improving this intersection will support the vitality of the commercial corridor and leverage other beautification projects and private investment.”
One thing to note, the image in the middle bubble above is actually a rendering of the proposed gateway project, so don’t expect a fountain and a bunch of benches in the middle.
Sherman said that he, Councilman Mark Squilla and Renee Gilinger of the East Passyunk Business Improvement District have been lobbying the city for more than a year to come up with some money to deal with the intersection. It’s a hazard to cross and confuses drivers who don’t know whether to keep going through it (you’re supposed to, unless you’re traveling on Passyunk and are crossing 12th when it turns yellow, then you should stop before crossing Morris).
The William Penn Foundation, which is mostly financing the gateway project, “is tickled pink that the city has come up with money to take care of that intersection,” Sherman said. “And they’re even happier that we stepped up to buy the old Colombo’s building.”
We’re tickled too. Between this makeover, restaurateur Chris Scarduzio’s planned bistro, and the potential for a new development at the Interior Concepts building, 12th and Passyunk is really humming. Not to mention what might happen with El Zarape’s spot when it moves a few blocks north.