Earlier this month, the Mayfair Community Development Corporation and the Allegheny Iron and Metal Corporation struck a deal to revitalize Mayfair. The partnership was reached under Philadelphia’s CDC Tax Credit Program and will allow the Mayfair CDC to receive $85,000 annually from Allegheny for the next 10 years.
Sunday, the deal was announced to the public. The announcement kicked off the debut of the Mayfair Farmers Market, which will take place several times throughout the year.
On the sunny and cold morning, Mayfair CDC Chairman Joseph DeFelice took the microphone in front of vendors, store owners, media members and Mayfair residents to outline the specifics of a partnership that will strengthen the economic standing of the community for years to come. DeFelice addressed the crowd, joined by Mayfair CDC Vice Chairman Tom Forkin, Allegheny’s Sales and Marketing Director Bill McKeown, Allegheny’s President Charles Dolaway and Councilman Bobby Henon, D-6th.
DeFelice reassured Mayfair residents that this money will go right to improving their community.
“This money will be spent right here, right in Mayfair, right in our corridor,” DeFelice said. “We are now in a positive trajectory and we are moving forward to the future.”
“Downtown Northeast Philadelphia”
It was fitting that the home of the farmers market is at the intersection of Frankford and Cottman avenues. DeFelice has made it clear in the past that he wants to see that area become the focal point of what he hopes to one day be “Downtown Northeast Philadelphia.” He touched on the CDC’s desire to create a Mayfair business improvement district that will allow for businesses in that area to grow and thrive.
One of the businesses with a direct hand in the day’s events is Republic Bank, located at the intersection of Frankford and Cottman avenues and one of the sponsors of the farmers market.
Randy Wolfe, the Northeast regional manager for Republic Bank, was on hand for the debut of the market. Wolfe oversees three Republic Bank locations, including the Mayfair branch. Wolfe explained how this sponsorship came to be.
“Joe DeFelice came to me about it. Businesses had the opportunity to receive a state grant for sponsoring [the farmers market],” Wolfe said. However, Wolfe made it clear that Republic Bank’s sponsorship was about much more than business.
“Part of our philosophy and brand is that we are a community-based bank,” Wolfe said. “A lot of residents and businesses bank with us, so in turn we help the community. For us, it’s been a great opportunity to showcase what the Northeast is about.”
DeFelice explained to the crowd that the first priority for the money will be to build up the Mayfair commercial district. But the residential district will not be forgotten. “We do want to keep one foot in the residential piece,” DeFelice explained. “We can provide a strong residential district, as well.”
The Mayfair CDC will look to improve the residential side of the community by using current laws to force absentee landlords to fix up and sell abandoned properties. This initiative will aim to better the residential district while using the power of the courts instead of money.
Mayfair gets a farmers market
Following the announcement was a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Mayfair Farmers Market. Residents mingled over baked goods and coffee as they went from vendor to vendor enjoying their neighborhood’s first market of the year. Several Mayfair business owners, including the Mayfair Business Association President and owner of The Grey Lodge Pub, Mike Scotese, were on hand for the festivities.
While adults purchased an assortment of baked goods, plants, souvenirs and wine, children were entertained by balloon animals and face painting. The neighborhood hosted a trial market in the fall.
The market symbolized the rebirth of Mayfair that DeFelice and his colleagues have made it clear they are working toward. DeFelice thanked Philadelphia’s Commerce Department for choosing Mayfair for the deal. “I think they made a good investment.”
Raymond Boyd is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.