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Archive | Bella Vista

What's Happening in:  Bella Vista :  Passyunk Square 

Doing their BID-ding

Community leaders are advocating for a business improvement district that would have the South 9th Street Italian Market as its hub.

By Joseph Myers

In 2016, a proposal to create a business improvement district (BID) for the South 9th Street Italian Market failed to acquire the mandatory two-thirds vote to move forward.  A renewed effort to establish the “South Philly Market Improvement District” has supportive community leaders hoping that sufficient advocacy will help advance a project eight years in the making. You can hear more about the plans at this evening’s Passyunk Square Civic Association general meeting.  

Passyunk Square Civic president Sarah Anton considers the market “a gem.” But, she stresses, “There’s still plenty of work to be done. The whole corridor…including areas just beyond it, deserve intensive attention.”

The proposed BID would stretch from Eighth to 10th streets and from Federal to Fitzwater streets. Parts of Washington Avenue and Christian Street would also be included. Under the plan, commercial properties in this area would pay an additional property assessment. BIDs receive taxing authority from the State and must garner approval from City Council. The proposed operating expenses for the service area total $281,636.

If approved, those revenues would help the BID tackle boarded-up and graffiti-covered spaces, fences, vacant storefronts, and old or damaged vendor stands. Area residents would benefit from the BID’s greening and beautification efforts, lighting and infrastructure work, safety  improvements, and litter removal. The BID would serve as a complement to the one established on East Passyunk Avenue in 2002.

Anton explained that the BID’s management team, outreach staff, and legal/professional services would help improve the entire service area: “Commercial landlords could attract and retain more clients, businesses could have improved prospects for success, and residents and visitors could be a more integral part of the community.”

Eugene Desyatnik, president of the Bella Vista Neighbors Association (BVNA), cautions that the proposed BID may not meet with universal approval. “When businesses hear that they can receive help, yet will  need to contribute to that via assessments, it’s not unusual for them to wonder if anything is really wrong with staying on the present course.”

The BVNA hosted a meeting on October 22, in conjunction with the South Philly Market District organizers. That meeting served as a kickstarter to secure the votes needed in City Council, specifically 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla, to advance the plan.

Photo courtesy Vern Anastasio

The BIDs’ proponents feel confident the organization, if approved, will help keep the Market competitive with other area commercial enterprises and attract new tenants and visitors. “Along with valuing the past,” Desyatnik said, “we have to make apparent what we can do to improve the present and the future” of the market.

Anton concluded, “I’m eager to keep pushing for this BID. Simply put, the community needs and deserves it.”

Read the proposal details here.

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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista :  Queen Village 

Go away…but tell me a story first

Tonight’s monthly story-telling jam theme is Go away
(but they really want you to stop on by).

This month’s Tell Me a Story (TMAS), Philadelphia’s long-running evening of storytelling, celebrates the stories that take you to far away lands, or have you running like the wind. The organizers are committed to showcasing as many storytellers as possible by not repeating a performer for at least a year. Thanks to this guideline, six of the seven storytellers this month have never told a story at a TMAS show.

Hosted by Tell Me A Story founder, Hillary Rea, this month’s line-up features TMAS regular Cecily Alexandria and newcomers Kristin Finger(ComedySportz), Ari Fishbein (Good Good Comedy), Jon Fortenbury (recent Philly transplant from Austin, TX), Sabina Leybold (also new to Philly and featured on Technical.ly), Sarah Pulver, and Ijanae Savage.

All tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door with cash or credit card. Doors open at 7 p.m., stories begin at 7:30 p.m. You can RSVP on Facebook.

What: Tell Me A Story: Go Away
When: Wednesday, July 18th at 7pm
Cost: $10 (cash or credit card at the door)
Who: Producer and Host — Hillary Rea, Storytellers — Cecily Alexandria, Kristin Finger, Ari Fishbein, Jon Fortenbury, Sabina Leybold, Sarah Pulver, and Ijanae Savage

 

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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista :  Passyunk Square :  South Broad Street 

Mario Lanza Institute & Museum Fundraiser to Benefit New Home in Passyunk Square

The Institute lost their lease in Bella Vista but hope to “Keep The Dream Alive” and remain in South Philly

You may have heard that the Mario Lanza Institute and Museum lost their lease at their current home, 712 Montrose Street. We’ve just learned the Institute plans to relocate to a new space in Passyunk Square. On Tuesday, June 26th, you can help the Institute with their relocation expenses by making a purchase at Pizzeria Pesto, 1925 S. Broad St. On that day, 10% of all proceeds (dine-in, take-out & delivery) will benefit the Institute’s Capital Campaign.

1206 Reed Street, future home of the Mario Lanza Institute & Museum. Google Maps

The Institute’s current leased space, in a former convent adjacent to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi Church, is being sold to a developer. They hope to relocate to space at 1206 Reed Street, opposite Columbus Square. The building, owned by Pete Bilotti of Alexstone, a granite and marble company, requires some renovations to accommodate the Institute’s offices and museum. The museum’s collection consists of movie posters, lobby cards, photos, costumes, and a terra cotta bust of Lanza.

Mario Lanza. Photo courtesy Mario Lanza Institute.

Mario Lanza was a South Philly success story. Born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza on January 31, 1921, he lived at 636 Christian Street and 2040 Mercy Street. Lanza, who took his grandmother’s name as he rose to fame, began his professional singing career at age 16. After a 1947 concert at the Hollywood Bowl, he was signed to act for MGM. This catapulted him to fame as a film star. At the time of his death in 1959 he was called “the most famous tenor in the world”.
Lanza dreamed of establishing a scholarship program to help young vocal students. The non-profit Mario Lanza Institute, incorporated in 1962, helped fulfill this dream. The Institute has awarded more than 200 scholarships to talented, young singers aspiring to achieve professional vocal careers. The scholarships have benefited students attending music programs across the country, including Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts and Curtis Institute, and Juilliard in New York City.

The Pizzeria Pesto/Alexstone fundraiser will help the Institute continue their philanthropic work and provide a fourth South Philly-based site for their office and museum.

The museum was officially established in 1975 at Nick Petrella’s Record Shop, 1414 Snyder Ave., when a modest Lanza display located at the back of the shop was expanded. The museum hoped, in part, to capture the large crowds expected for the Bicentennial. In 1986 Petrella closed his record shop and the museum moved to the third floor of Settlement Music School, 416 Queen Street. Lanza had attended Settlement as a child. For many years the Institute’s scholarships exclusively benefitted students at the school. In 2002 the Museum dedicated their soon-to-be-former space at 712 Montrose.

For more information, visit the Institute’s website, or contact them at mariolanzainstitute@verizon.net or 215-238-9691. You can also donate via Facebook here. The Mario Lanza Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All contributions are deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista :  Passyunk Square 

Italian Market Festival returns – with a challenge to Eagles fans!

The South 9th Street Italian Market Festival returns this Saturday May 19th and Sunday May 20th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The event will fill 9th Street between Wharton and Fitzwater streets with family fun, fine food, outstanding crafts, live music, and Italian traditions like the Procession of Saints. This year’s festival also promises to help supply fresh vegetables to local schools, assist students struggling with dyslexia, and presents a challenge to diehard Eagles fans from South Philly and beyond!

Italian flags on sweet treats. Photo by the Italian Market Festival.

Pat’s King of Steaks, and its Spread the Whiz Foundation, is sponsoring the “Spread the Whiz Zone.” As festival executive director Michelle Gambino explains, “it’s all about teaching kids to give back to the community by playing with their food!” Children will be able to make their own cannoli to take home – if it makes it that far. Proceeds will fund a garden at a local school that will grow produce for use in the school’s cafeteria. The Zone will also feature a balloon artist, raffles and live entertainment.  Continue Reading →

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Weekend events primer – May Day edition

Friday, May 4

  • 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm. 3rd Annual Spirits & History at Gloria Dei (Old Swede’s Church), 916 Swanson St. Hear stories of the Swedish trailblazers now resting at Old Swede’s graveyard while tasting spirits matched to their life-and-times. Food & drink, story telling and jazz. Proceeds benefit the preservation of Gloria Dei Church. Get tickets at the door, or here.

Saturday, May 5th

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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista 

Looking on the bright CIDER of life

Kerry McKenzie is more than a glass half-full kind of guy. In fact, he’s a glass-is-always-full-guy…full of the hard cider he brews at Hale & True Cider Co. The cidery and taproom opened last week at 613 S. 7th Street. McKenzie, a chipper 29-year-old, smartly credits his wife and partner Risa as the mastermind behind his establishment. “We were already fermenting kimchi and kombucha when we stumbled upon a street fair on South Street and tasted hard cider for the first time.” McKenzie continues, “we were so excited to find out that cider could be something more than sweet!”

Kerry and Risa McKenzie

The couple switched their fermenting work to produce hard ciders, including some of the signature products at their new, 40-seat establishment.  Highlights include their “Standard” made from a mix of six different apples; “Hail to the Hop!” which allows the hops to sit for at least four to five days after fermenting; “Lil’ Sunshine” which has a mix of locally-grown honey and oranges; and “Sail Away” made from mango puree. This last favorite was inspired by the multitude of fresh mango he and his new bride ate on their honeymoon just a few months ago in Hawaii.

Kerry was born and raised in South Jersey, about 40 minutes from the heart of South Philly. He visited the city frequently even before he was able to drive – his parents would drop him off at South Street’s TLA and other hot spots. He met Risa met in college and the newly-married couple now live in Lower Moyamensing.  While scouting for locations it was natural that they gravitated to South Street where their love for cider began.

Kerry doesn’t profess to having a favorite among the many offerings at Hale & True except to say that for him, “drier is always better than sweet! Especially where hard cider is concerned.”

Hale & True has partnered with The Good King Tavern to provide a small menu of light snacks.  The cidery is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4pm to 10pm, Friday from 4pm to 12am, Saturday 12pm to 12am and Sunday 12pm to 9am.

Hale & True’s interior was designed by USA Architects and Cohere.  The furniture was crafted by Sweetwater Wood Design, owned by Kerry’s father and brother. Photo by Coleman Yunger.

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