Mt. Airy BID throws party at Upsala

If you think Germantown Avenue has been looking better in the past few years one of the organizations that has had a hand in that is the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (BID). It’s one of the many groups working behind the scenes to make the commercial corridor more attractive to businesses and shoppers. 

The Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (BID) held an open house Tuesday at the historic Upsala mansion, 6430 Germantown Ave. It was a chance for local business owners to mingle in Upsala and help raise money for charitable groups. 

Established neighborhood business owners such as Elizabeth Vander Veer Shaak of Mt. Airy Violins & Bows were among the approximately 40 gathered, as well as newcomers such as local artist duo, Joel Erland and Kate Kaman.

Kaman and Erland recently relocated their HumanKind Design studio space to a massive 9000 square foot mixed-use building and warehouse on the 6300 block of Germantown Avenue. The artist couple hopes to finish rehabbing the building by early 2012. Erland stated that they had searched a 200 mile radius and decided on the neighborhood because “it seemed like a place with a lot of promise.” Erland admitted that being located on Germantown Avenue between Johnson Street and Washington Lane causes some confusion when it comes to forming civic alliances, due to the boundary dispute over where Mt. Airy ends and Germantown begins. Erland noted that he and Kaman always receive invitations from Mount Airy BID but none from Germantown.

Next year is an important year for the Mt. Airy BID. The organization’s charter is up for renewal and BID Chair Ken Weinstein has said that it will be decided by area property owners who pay a levy for BID’s services.

The local improvement district was established by the Philadelphia City Council in 2007. Its mission is to keep Mt. Airy’s portion of Germantown Ave. clean and safe. Recently the BID installed holiday evergreen decorations along the avenue.

On hand Tuesday night were Mt. Airy BID Executive Director, Hollie Malamud-Price; Chair Ken Weinstein and Vice Chair Peter Commons.

Anuj Gupta from Mt. Airy USA, Marilyn Cohen of West Mount Airy Neighbors (WMAN) and Aisha Brooks-Lytle of East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN) also dropped in for some holiday cheer.

The event included hors d’ oeuvres from local restaurant Geechee Rice Girl Cafe. For those with a sweet tooth there were mini cupcakes and cookies from another local eatery, Little Jimmie’s Bakery Café at 6669 Germantown Avenue, which opened for business this week.

Attendees of the holiday event brought donations to benefit three area donation drives: childrens’ books for Valley Green Bank’s Holiday Book Drive for Kids, canned goods for First Presbyterian Church of Germantown’s food cupboard and coats for the Trolley Car Diner’s Annual Winter Coat Drive.

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