December 16: Homicides down | Change at Wannamaker School site | Cashing in on LOVE Park | Reusing Greater St. Matthew | Bike share’s demographic problem | Reimagining Roosevelt Blvd

Welcome to the working week, Streeters. We hope you enjoyed a safe weekend amid the slush and ice – there’s more where that came from overnight.

As 2013 winds down, Philly is on track for its fewest homicides since 1967. The Inquirer reports officials attribute that incredible stat to both old-school on the ground policing at “hot spots” and data-driven approaches. Both non-violent and violent crime are down across the city.

Will the former Wannamaker School site in North Central Philadelphia see a school or community use at all? That was the deal when Bright Hope Baptist Church bid for the surplus school property, and partnered with the Goldenberg Group, but now the Daily News reports that plans could be changing. The project’s first phase, View at Montgomery, a 14-story apartment building, is nearly complete. But now instead of a charter school and community center on site, Goldenberg may build a hotel. Goldenberg and Bright Hope have restructured their financial agreement and are exploring other sites for a school.

Inga Saffron issued an appropriate takedown of Council President Darrell Clarke’s half-baked plan to pack LOVE Park full of commerce – seven restaurants, a bunch of kiosks and a stage – in an effort to help pay for the park’s renovations and ongoing maintenance. Yes, commercial activity and amenities are appropriate but don’t overstuff the space or bet on the revenue from restaurants to totally underwrite the park. “Parks are meant to serve the people, not pay the city’s bills.”

In what feels like a never-ending litany of city churches closing, deteriorating, and coming down, Hidden City Daily looks at one bright spot: The reuse of Greater St. Matthew Baptist (originally St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church). The Sanctuary Lofts project across Grays Ferry Ave from the Naval Homes will bring 30 apartments to the church and another eight in the rectory.

“Every bike-sharing system that’s launched so far has had trouble attracting large numbers of low-income and minority riders,” reporter said Joel Rose in his look at bike share’s demographic problems for NPR’s Commuting in America series. Among the issues are price, reliance on credit cards, and docking station locations.

NEast Philly and Philadelphia Neighborhoods takes a long look at reimagining Roosevelt Boulevard, from how to make the street safer for everyone (especially pedestrians) and how to update the car-centric commercial businesses that line the Boulevard. 

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