Open for business in Old City: Philadelphia Design District

Friday the 13th: The Philadelphia Design District celebrates its official debut in style, with a launch party and curated exhibit featuring products from members of the nascent collective of independent design businesses in Old City. 

“Old City was changing, from art galleries 30 years ago to more design stores in the last 10 years,” says Eugenie Perret, one of PDD’s ten founding members and co-owner of Minima, a contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories showroom. ‘We would be so much stronger and put Philadelphia on the design map if we all started to collaborate,’” Perret told Editor at Large. The design district spans Old City, from Second and Third Streets to Market and Race, and its member organization say their goal is to bring more visitors and businesses to the thriving indy design hub through public events and campaigns. “Every day we have people visiting our businesses, shopping with us from New York because we are small historical brick-and-mortar stores where it is becoming a rarity in other cities,” Perret told the Philadelphia Business Journal. “We are here to protect it and at the same time bring in shoppers,” Perret said. So they came up with a unique and breathable model. The ten founding members will be the main businesses running the district, Editor at Large writes, and new galleries and showrooms will have different responsibilities when they join.

Premiere, the two-week pop-up showcase kicking off this weekend and curated by Mona Ross Berman Interiors, a Philadelphia interior design studio, will include four public events

An unlucky architectural treasure in Eastwick

You can find one of Philadelphia’s best examples of Brutalist architecture in Eastwick, writes Hidden City’s Michael Bixler.  Designed by Caudill Rowlett Scott and Bower & Fradley in 1969 the school didn’t open until 1976 due to fights with the Art Commission over the hard-lined, concrete design, George Pepper Middle School at 2901 S 84th Street not far from John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Those early battles would portend a tough time for the school. In 2013, the School District of Philadelphia shuttered it, and two years later, in 2015, Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition opened a request for proposals from prospective buyers looking to revive the school.The process, however, didn’t result in the change the neighborhood had hoped to see.  Two-thirds of the panel then voted to sell Pepper and the old Communications Technology High School next door to the First Baptist Church of Paschall and the School District lowered the price to a little over $2 million. But the agreement was non-binding, Bixler writes, and, “to the surprise of the church, the School Reform Commission passed a resolution in November 2017 to cancel the deal and temporarily pull Pepper from the market.” According to the School District, the property “is currently being held pending the completion of the Eastwick Public Lands Strategy.

The school site is a part of the 190 acres of publicly owned land in Lower Eastwick, in what was called the largest urban renewal project in the country. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) officially launched a new planning and feasibility study January 2017, Catalina Jaramillo reported. But like Pepper, the PRA hasn’t had an easy time, as residents and planners struggle to move past a history of broken promises, environmental injustices, and governmental neglect.  Until the Eastwick plan is complete, Bixler writes, the sale of Pepper remains on hold. The school is rapidly deteriorating and many in the neighborhood fear it could remain an unresolved blight long into the future. From a design perspective, that would be a waste, Bixler notes.

PPSA: Pavings, potholes and streets advisories

Street paving work schedule

The Streets Department will be repaving several streets in South Philly this week, including Christian Street from 12th Street to Christopher Columbus Boulevard; Dickinson Street from 9th Street to Front Street; East Moyamensing Avenue from to 5th Street to Front Street; and East Passyunk Avenue from Fitzwater Street to Washington Avenue. 

The Streets Department urges residents to plan alternative routes when traveling in these areas and move their cars from the work sites when temporary “No Parking” signs are posted so that vehicles are not towed. If you missed that and your car got towed, contact your local Police District to determine its location. Check out the boundaries full paving schedule for the week here.

PennDOT plugging those potholes

This week, PennDOT will begin repairing potholes on more than 50 highways in the Philadelphia region. This includes three roadways in Philly proper: State Road, Knights Road, and Academy Road. Check out the full list here

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal