Fresh faced: 2014 Storefront Challenge honors

A great storefront is a vote of confidence – in a quality business, in a block, in a community. Fresh paint, new awnings, and better lighting can give old businesses an updated look that helps draw in new customers. And a sharp new storefront can send the signal that a commercial corridor is on the rise with new investment. 

To honor that spirit of change and revival, the Community Design Collaborative and Commerce Department dole out awards in a Storefront Challenge every other year. This year 80 storefronts from Torresdale to Passyunk avenues, completed between October 2012 and September 2014, vied for top honors.

Here are this year’s winners – with before and after images and more than a few honorable mentions – who were recognized at a celebration Tuesday afternoon, held as part of Design Philadelphia.

Amazing Awnings: Wellens Hosiery, 7201-03 Torresdale Avenue

Wellens not only opened up its display windows to the street again, but it added a designer touch with awnings featuring stitching detail.

Honorable mention: Hats in the Belfry, 633 South Street

Bang for the Buck: Group Award – NKCDC/ Girard Avenue Model Block

New Kensington CDC banded businesses together on one block of East Girard Avenue for a $10,000 infusion that packed big results.

  • Keys to the Attic, 314 E. Girard Avenue
  • NicNac4Peanuts, 312 E. Girard Avenue
  • Stock, 310 E. Girard Avenue
  • Dash Delivery, 308 E. Girard Avenue
  • Street Glitter Gallery, 306 E. Girard Avenue

Honorable mention: Wardrobe Boutique, 1822 Spring Garden Street

Best DeSign (tie): Rybrew Café, 2816 West Girard Avenue and Townsend, 1623 E Passyunk Avenue

rybrew’s yellow sign is simple and pops off of the brick facade, while the window tells you just what to expect inside. Tied for the honors is Townsend, a refined take on an historic storefront, is accented with an understated hanging circular sign that catches the eye thanks to its color and shape.

Corridor Catalyist: Alex Balloon, Tacony CDC  / Torresdale Avenue Corridor Manager

We’ve followed along as corridor manager Alex Balloon has helped businesses in Tacony revamp many facades on Torresdale Avenue – including several winners of this year’s Storefront Challenge. Balloon was honored for his collaborative efforts and bright ideas with the Corridor Catalyst award.

Extreme Makeover: ReAnimator Coffee Roasters, 310 W Master Street

A once dead-eyed warehouse gleams with glass, revived as ReAnimator Coffee Roasters. 

Honorable mention: John Junius Taylor, 3812 Lancaster Avenue

Honor the Past: Robert Brand & Associates, 1716 Passyunk Avenue

Robert Brand Associates honored the early 20th century pedigree of their law office on East Passyunk. It’s what the Commerce Department’s Jonathan Snyder called an “endangered species” of storefront, which Brand restored and and complemented with new signage and artwork within. 

Honorable mention: MPDESIGNSHOP, 2527 Frankford Avenue

KISS (Keep It Simple, Storeowner): Fu Mei Mart, 6900 Torresdale Avenue

FM Mart went back to basics with this Woolworths inspired palette, awnings, and signage.

Honorable mention (tie):

  • Athenian Diner, 6824 Torresdale Avenue
  • Oteri’s Italian Bakery, 4919 N. 5th Street

Paint that Pops: The Center for Art in Wood, 141 N. 3rd Street

The Center for Art in Wood enlivened its exterior with a clever paint scheme showcasing woodworking tools.

Honorable mention: Indio’s Auto Center, 4300 N. 5th Street

Window Display: Amatullah’s Treasures, 6303 Lansdowne Ave

Amatullah’s Treasures emphasizes creative window displays, enlivening the street and inviting in passers-by.

Honorable mention: Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th Street

Best Overall: Valley Green Bank, 1536 S. Broad Street

Valley Green Bank was honored for its work on the facade of its South Broad Street building, revamping a bland 1960s bank with color, light and a bold sign. It’s one way that the bank is also acting on its mission to provide loans for local and small businesses, and in so doing improving commercial corridors across the city. 

Honorable mention:

  • Federal Donuts, 701 N. 7th Street

Photos provided by Community Design Collaborative.

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