Cottman Avenue a focus of Central Northeast planning discussion

When you think of Cottman Avenue west of the Roosevelt Boulevard, what do you picture? Heavy car traffic, lots of parking lots, several retail stores — many of which are vacant.

But when called together to help form a plan for the “Central Northeast” district late last month, the Fox Chase, Burholme, Rhawnhurst, Lexington Park, Bells Corner, Castor Gardens and Lawndale residents who attended the planning meeting envisioned a friendlier Cottman Avenue.

From Hidden City: Attendees broke into groups of five or six consisting of residents and Planning Commission staff members for the exercise, which resembled a board game: The groups received “game pieces” representing new structures, bus shelters, streetscape and intersection improvements, parks, and even a few new streets and pedestrian paths that might be cut through the middle of long blocks. The charge: figure out where the pieces should go to make for a better Cottman Avenue experience. Planning Commission staff set a few ground rules—assume some buildings remain in place, but others might be altered or removed—then let the participants do their thing.” As discussions moved from Five Points to the whole of Cottman Avenue, ideas emerged for how to improve the experience along the avenue, including a more attractive streetscape, fewer large parking lots and possibly even a park and pedestrian paths at the Roosevelt Mall.

Planning for the district, part of the City Planning Commission’s 2035 comprehensive plan, is expected to be done in the first half of 2014. A third and final public meeting for the district will be held in the coming months.

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