January 8: West Philly Promise Zone | 20 schools get bids | Columbus Square redesign | Demolition for Pennsport church turned temple

Happy Wednesday, Streeters. Let’s be thankful for today’s sunshine and promise of double-digit temperatures after yesterday’s freeze, even though this morning it feels like -3˚. Here’s what’s making news today:

Part of West Philly is being designated one of five new “Promise Zones,” a new effort being piloted by the Obama administration to reduce poverty, stabilize communities, and increase economic opportunity. The Inquirer reports that the Promise Zone, including Mantua, has a poverty rate of nearly 51% and unemployment rate of 13.6%. Promise Zones will get priority for federal grants and support from agencies in efforts to fight crime, increase home ownership, expand business growth and add new jobs. The revitalization of the Lancaster Avenue commercial corridor in this area is a particular opportunity. The program will be operated through the mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity in coordination with the School District, Housing Authority, Police Department, Drexel, and nonprofit organizations.

Of the 28 former schools listed for sale, the Philadelphia School District received offers on 20, the Inquirer reports. Offers for all 28 schools or individual offers for one of the seven schools identified for “expedited sales” were due in mid November.

The Community Design Collaborative has worked up a conceptual redesign of Columbus Square Park in Passyunk Square. Passyunk Post explains that while the recreation field will be retained, it will be smaller making room for an expanded dog run, more passive green space, a new playground water feature, and a “patio” on 13th Street. One casualty of the new design is the crowned round storage building, which will be demolished to improve accessibility at the 12th and Reed entrance. Stay tuned for a formal unveiling.

In Pennsport, the demolition blitz continues. Hidden City Daily reports that the house of worship at 240 Greenwich Street is being razed, likely to make way for rowhouse development. Most recently the building was used as the Khmer Palelai Buddhist Temple, though it was originally a Presbyterian Sunday school, then church.

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