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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 punk@passyunkpost.com.

Sherman, via yptc.com
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?
SS:
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?
SS:
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?
SS:
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?
SS:
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.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

SoPhilly Spotlight: PARC edition

Normally we wouldn’t highlight a property without pics of the inside, but this one jumped out at us for two reasons.

What luxuries hide behind this facade?

One: $1,200 for a 750-square-foot 1-bedroom (a bit high?). Two: it’s offered by PARC, available now.

Granted, it’s big on amenities:

Features: Hardwood Flooring, Central Air Conditioning, Washer/Dryer, Beautiful kitchen with stainless steel appliances (dishwasher, gas range, refrigerator, microwave and disposal), Outdoor terrace with city skyline view–perfect for bar-b-ques and relaxing, Fire alarm system, private entrance with intercom

Power to apartment is supplied by solar panels mounted on the roof—-how does $40/month for an electric bill sound during this long summer heatwave?

Sounds pretty good to us, but searching around Craigslist, it appears this apartment is the most expensive 1-bedroom below Washington Avenue. And since the listing says it’s available Sept. 1, that means it might be too rich for an East Passyunker’s blood. This two-bedroom bilevel a block away is not nearly as nice, we would imagine, but it’s also $200 less a month. What do you think?

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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Work has started at the new Fond location

The old crappy windows are out to make way for new ones at 1537 South 11th Street (at Tasker), where the Fond crew is planning to move into this fall.

So, it’s still quite early

Owners Lee Styer and Jessie Prawlucki and Tory Keomanivong plan to have a liquor license and a six seat bar at the new location. The space is positively gutted and looks about double the size of the old restaurant. They’ve said they plan to open in October or November

Still no word yet on what the crew plans to do with their current space, despite rumors that a Chicago chef was interested in opening his restaurant there or that they might move their pastry shop Belle Cakery from down the street. As to the first rumor, the chef apparently didn’t know the Fonders were keeping it.

Not so long ago

We checked with the team a couple weeks ago on Twitter about that second rumor, and here was the response: “Wow who makes this stuff up?”

We guess that means Belle isn’t going anywhere, which is good news since that leaves room for a new concept at 1617 E. Passyunk Ave.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing :  Passyunk Square 

Mash note to East Passyunk declares it city’s restaurant row

Over at Table Matters, writer and neighborhood resident Joy Manning managed to cram all that has happened in the neighborhood in the past five years into a tight 2,000 words or so.

Photo by Michael Bucher, via Table Matters

As her love for the hood spews forth, she proclaims that Walnut Street is, like, totally over, and that EPA has ascended to become the city’s premier dining destination.

Walking the blocks of my neighborhood in 2010, I couldn’t believe my luck. Most of those places I loved in Queen Village had closed, and some of my new favorite restaurants were right outside my door. East Passyunk now boasted its own location of the Philly-based but world-renowned Capogiro gelato shop. In March, The New York Times even profiled the neighborhood as a new dining hotspot, noting an “influx of fresh, hipster-ready cafes.” People were calling it a mini restaurant row. Little did anyone know the real restaurant boom was just getting started.

Though there’s not much new information, we’re jealous how she was able to put into words what we’ve been thinking. Definitely worth a read.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

First look at King of Jeans apartment plans

Developer Max Glass was well-received last week when he went before the East Passyunk Crossing Civic association’s zoning committee to show off his plans for converting the King of Jeans building into 12 apartments.

Not too bad, huh?

EPX’s David Goldfarb said the meeting “was very positive and noncontentious. Renderings looked great.” We got our hands on them and we agree, though this is preliminary and it could change.

Glass intends to take full advantage of the building’s proximity to the subway (two blocks to Snyder stop) as he says he’ll provide an indoor bike parking room and four of the apartments will have a “no parking permit” provision in the lease to discourage cars. There will be commercial trash pickup and Glass plans to add lighting in the creepy, curved alley the city calls Iseminger “Street,” which runs behind the building. (But where will all kids from Neumann-Goretti get drunk now?)
According to this thread on Philly Speaks, they will all be one-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 680 to 900 square feet and going for around $1,000.Attendees voted 22-0 in favor of the project and the committee gave it conditional support, Goldfarb said in an email.

“Although we continue to express concern about the density that this many units brings to the Avenue,” he said, “the uniqueness of the building’s dimensions (four buildings put together, a partial fourth floor, its large size, etc.) and that the new zoning code allows for eight units by right, as well as the project’s merits, lead us to find that this is an appropriate project for the neighborhood that meets the criteria for a zoning variance.”

Then there’s the issue of the sign. Lovers of camp can rejoice: “We will, of course, work with [Glass] to find a proper place for that iconic sign,” Goldfrab said. “We’re open to suggestions.”

So, where should the sign go? how about over that crumbling SEPTA substation next door? Any thoughts about the rendering?

First floor, click to enlarge
Site plan
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Era Atomica gets into vintage clothing biz

Now that Sweet Jane has closed, and making way for video-editing firm Pattern and Motion, there’s a vintage clothing hole on this end of the Avenue. Yeah, 1600 Below is there, but that’s a whole two blocks away.

Photo from Era Atomica’s Facebook page

Well, apparently Era Atomica has decided to fill this hole, offering a small selection of 60s and 70s era clothing along with their period coffee tables, console stereos, and that $800 Mork and Mindy egg chair with built-in speakers that we’ve always wanted.

They gave a shoutout to Sweet Jane on their Facebook page last week, though.

We miss Sweet Jane! And their windows! We know you do too, so we did up our small window to show that we have some cute, affordable vintage clothing and accessories for sale inside. 🙂

Check out the selection and report back.

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