Lower Northeast plan to call for new development centered on SEPTA’s Frankford Transportation Center

A draft of the PCPC’s Lower Northeast District-level Comprehensive Plan will be presented to the public for comment next month.

But input given at two public input sessions, surveys and other staff research has already begun to give the plan some shape.

The Lower Northeast District-level plan, which covers Frankford, Northwood, Oxford Circle, Summerdale and Lawncrest, will be part of the new city-wide comprehensive plan, Philadelphia2035.

Between 1990 and 2010, the population of the Lower Northeast increased by 10 percent, city planner and Lower Northeast Project Manager Ian Litwin told the city planning commission at a recent meeting. There are not more houses, but 10,000 more people – the average household size grew from 2.56 people to 2.92 people.  By 2035, the Lower Northeast is expected to grow by another 5 percent, to about 106,000 people.

Who are those new residents?

“A dramatic shift in racial composition has transformed the Lower Northeast into one of the most racially diverse districts in the entire city,” Litwin said. The Hispanic population has grown dramatically, for example.

About half of the growth between 1990 and 2010 happened near Castor Avenue, and the Castor Avenue commercial corridor is one of three areas the plan will focus on, Litwin said. “We want to increase density in a growing neighborhood.”

The plan will also pay special attention to the lower, eastern part of Frankford, which the plan calls the Frankford Gateway. This includes Frankford Creek and part of Frankford Avenue, and a number of former industrial buildings that have been rehabbed. “We want to build off of some of the successes we’ve seen recently,” Litwin said.

The third focus area is around SEPTA’s Frankford Transportation Center, at Bridge Street and Frankford Avenue.

Staff research showed that 750,000 people can get to the transportation center on public transportation on a one-seat trip.  “We want to improve the public space, and create a neighborhood center around it,” Litwin said.

At one input session, a majority of participants said they favored focusing commercial growth in neighborhood commercial corridors instead of strip malls.

More residents thought transit expansion would do more to improve mobility on The Boulevard than roadway improvements would. Transit is expensive, so the plan will recommend a phased-in approach.

The plan will also recommend phasing in the proposed Frankford Creek Greenway. Residents support both creating the Greenway and focusing investment on existing recreation centers. But due to limited resources, more expressed a desire to improve the existing recreation centers, saying that effort would also address other concerns, such as making the community safer. The plan will suggest grant funding for the Greenway.

The draft of the Lower Northeast District Plan will be presented at an Aug. 7 public open house from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St. Public comment will be taken for two months after that, Litwin said. The hope is that the PCPC will adopt the plan at its October meeting.

Reach the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com.

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