Top 5 Northwest Philadelphia development stories of 2011 — No. 4

In Northwest Philly’s neighborhoods this year, you didn’t have to shop around very far to find tasty stories about land use and development. And some of the meatiest were somehow related to grocery stores — though despite many neighbors’ fervent hopes, not a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s among them.

This week, NewsWorks and Plan Philly will bring you five of the juiciest stories among them. Here is the fourth:

VENICE ISLAND REVISTED: In Manayunk, locals said they’d believe it when they saw it.

In August, NewsWorks readers did see it — the long-awaited demolition of the old Venice Island Rec Center building — through photographer Bas Slabbers’ lens. In early November, officials held a groundbreaking for a planned two-part, $46 million project to both rebuild the rec center and, hopefully, solve some of the neighborhood’s flooding woes.

The Venice Island work involves a joint effort of the Philadelphia Water Department and Parks and Recreation. First, PWD will create “The Big Tank,” a four million-gallon underground storm water retention basin under the Lock Street parking lot, meant to allay flooding along Main Street, especially near Shurs Lane.

Once the tank, a new pumping station with a green roof, and parking lot are complete, work will shift sides. On the Cotton Street end of the island, a new performing arts center with a 250-seat amphitheater, along with new rec facilities, will replace the old V.I., first opened in 1960.

In the meantime, the ongoing work will mean a series of shifts in parking areas, and will occasionally affect traffic flow along Main Street. For full details on the Venice Island plans, go here.

Coming this afternoon: Charters on the move.

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Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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