City to spend $300k on pedestrian improvements at 12th and Passyunk

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.

A jumble of cars, many of which routinely run red lights (not necessarily these).
A jumble of cars, many of which routinely run red lights (not necessarily these).

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.”

The bubble in the middle is a yet-to-be announced project. Screen grab from PARC's website.
PARC’s list of pending avenue improvement’s, along with their other properties. Brigantessa is the one on the right. 

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).

One side of the intersection is really far from the other
One side of the intersection is really far from the other

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.

13 thoughts on “City to spend $300k on pedestrian improvements at 12th and Passyunk

  • February 20, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Hey Albert,
    Any updates on when Scarduzio is going to break ground on that site?

    • February 20, 2014 at 11:10 am

      When I checked in with him last week, he said he was just waiting for the weather to clear up. So, hopefully, soon.

      • February 20, 2014 at 11:25 am

        Awesome! Great news! Thanks!

      • February 20, 2014 at 11:29 am

        Can confirm that things are still proceeding, although I think it’s still going to be a bit.

  • February 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Nice! Now lets just hope someone buys Interior Concepts.

    And no Megan, a stupid parking lot is not appropriate.

  • February 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Good news. That intersection is a mess right now; they should try to address the drainage at the sewer right near Interior Concepts; it gets backed up in snow and heavy rain. I think they’re dumping used lucite down there…

  • February 20, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    this is wonderful news! i live steps off of this intersection and what used to be a hassel to cross is now just flat out dangerous with a baby in tow.

    • February 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly. But to be honest more than pedestrian safety, its the ‘beautification’ part that really piques my interest. This is such a drab intersection, right in the heart of our city’s thriving restaurant row. It could be the perfect ‘folcrum’ between Singing Fountain and Joey Giardello. I can’t wait to see what happens.

  • February 21, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Hopefully crap-hole Zarape will be replaced with something decent. That would do lot for that corner.

  • February 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Will the City conduct any community input sessions during design?

  • February 24, 2014 at 8:08 am

    I hope they don’t make it a mess like they did at 16th and Snyder to 17th

    • February 24, 2014 at 1:29 pm


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