NewsWorks went back to check in on several of the stories it covered this year. These “What Happened Next” updates will run in the final days of 2013.
Germantown man accused of assaulting medics, trying to steal fire truck held for trial, July 2
The Story: Just before 6 a.m. on June 17, medics loaded an unconscious Kenneth Moore into an ambulance after he was struck by a car on Roosevelt Boulevard near Berkeley Street in Germantown.
As one of two medics prepared to place an intravenous line in the 40-year-old patient’s arm, Moore allegedly popped up and punched him in the face. The other then tried to restrain Moore, who allegedly responded by punching and kicking her about a dozen times, throwing her onto the floor of the ambulance.
Still linked to a two-foot oxygen tank, Moore chased the medics up the street, heaving the aluminum canister into the driver-side windshield of a fire engine that had been following the ambulance. He then allegedly tried to steal that fire engine. Officers reportedly had to taze him before he was finally transported to the hospital for treatment.
What Happened Next: Little information is available about an investigation into the initial report that Moore was struck by a vehicle, and two visits to his Abbottsford Avenue address yielded no contact with the suspect.
His trial is scheduled to begin on June 9 and defense attorney Eugene Tinari said he intends to “vigorously defend him against the charges.” (Brian Hickey)
Dry-cleaner’s delivery-drone gimmick carries marketing clout, July 3
The Story: In an effort to insert some fun into a traditionally boring business, Harry Vartanian, who runs Manayunk Cleaners, decided that, once a month, one of his customers would receive his or her dry cleaning via drone.
“This is definitely the future of delivery methods,” said Vartanian at the time.
What Happened Next: Vartanian’s plans never got off the ground.
That’s because officials with the Federal Aviation Administration contacted the store to tell Vartanian that the commercial use drones was not yet legal and he’d face a significant fine if he proceeded with the promotion.
The industry has not been regulated yet and it come be some time before that happens.
“Until then we’re basically just waiting,” said Vartanian. (Aaron Moselle)
Coming soon to Germantown: The Rittenhouse Soundworks Arts Complex, July 17
The Story: Germantown musician and recording artist Jim Hamilton had a vision for an intercultural music and arts center, and stumbled on the perfect space right on Rittenhouse Street.
After traveling the world as a drummer for artists like Boyz II Men, Toni Braxton and Manhattans star Gerald Alston, Hamilton dreamed of founding his own international performance, teaching and recording space in Philadelphia. After searching throughout the city, he discovered an empty 13,000 square foot, two-story 19th-century manufacturing space between Rittenhouse and Haines Streets near Greene, and started construction in July.
What Happened Next: An estimate that the space would be open for business by the end of the year wasn’t too far off the mark.
“We’re looking at a January/February opening,” Hamilton said. That’s mostly because the refurbishment and wiring of the space’s vintage API console, which once belonged to legendary performer and producer Sly Stone, is taking a little longer than expected.
“The rooms are built,” including the control and isolation rooms, and the bathroom is in, Hamilton said. The heating and air conditioning systems are scheduled for installation in mid-December.
Hamilton pointed to winter of 2014 as a time to look out for more announcements on what the space will offer.
“It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind console,” he said of the central feature of the space that will eventually cater to digital, CD, analog tape or vinyl recording artists. “There’s not going to be any like it in the world, and I’m really excited about that.” (Alaina Mabaso)
Developer: Asbestos, city permitting process delay Kingsley Court project, July 26
The Story: The 3.5 acre site of the former Ivy Ridge Personal Care Home, which closed in 2008 following a government investigation that found unsafe conditions and inadequate medical care of the residents, is being redeveloped as cul-de-sac community of 32 twin homes called Kingsley Court. The project at 5627 Ridge Avenue is widely viewed as a welcome close to the site’s ugly history and an important investment in the Roxborough neighborhood.
But over the spring and summer, developer Stephen Goldner was delayed in the demolition process by the discovery of asbestos in the main building. And the June 5 collapse of the Salvation Army building in Center City led to a reevaluation of city inspections and an overall slowing of the permitting process.
The developer and real estate company had hoped the abatement process would be completed by early August, but were looking at the end of the year, or longer, for the new construction to be completed.
What Happened Next: The timetable for Kingsley Court was set back a bit, but the project is now proceeding well.
The demolition of the remaining personal care buildings was completed in November, and all the issues that were raised over the permitting process have been resolved, said Marie Gordon, the real estate agent handling the property for Berkshire Hathaway.
Foundations were being poured in early December, the cul de sac road has been completed, and four duplex buildings will be rising on the site. Eight residences, or 25 percent of the development, have already been sold.
“We expect to deliver [the completed buildings] by the end of February or beginning of March,” Gordon said. (Alan Jaffe)
With GHS closure, Stained Glass Project moves from FUMCOG to Roxborough, July 30
The Story: The much-acclaimed Stained Glass Project — an after-school arts program designed for high school students — moved from a church across the street from Germantown High School to the Kendrick Recreation Center in Roxborough earlier this year.
After hosting the program since 2006, the First United Methodist Church of Germantown was unable to house the program due to a lack of funding — and participants after Germantown High closed.
What Happened Next: Stained Glass Project’s co-founders Paula Mandel and Joan Myerson said the program is adjusting well to being at Roxborough’s Kendrick Recreation Center. The program hosts 18 students once a week from schools throughout the city — Roxborough High School, Murrell Dobbins CTE High School, Martin Luther King High School and Parkway Northwest.
“We want to make art come alive,” said Myerson. “These are kids who don’t have art in school anymore, but they can come here every week for that.”
This year’s stained glass creations will be installed at Kendrick and one other to-be-determined location. (Neema Roshania)
Sculptor commissioned with creating Joe Frazier statue dies unexpectedly, Aug. 5
The Story: Lawrence Nowlan, the Philadelphia-raised sculptor who was creating the long-awaited statue to honor late boxing great Smokin’ Joe Frazier, died unexpectedly at the age of 48. He had finished a mold of Frazier’s face in the days prior to his unexpected passing.
He was commissioned for the work after a high-profile fundraising campaign which drew more than $160,000 for art and upkeep. At the time, the Frazier family didn’t know whether the statue, which became a rallying-cry issue for many, would ever rise in the stadium complex.
What Happened Next: Richard Hayden, spokesman for the Frazier estate, said that in the months after Nowlan’s passing, the family agreed on artist Stephen Layne, who was essentially runner-up in the juried group that led to the initial statue proposal.
In early December, Layne’s plan got Philadelphia Arts Commission approval. The final sculpture, to be cast in bronze at an artist forge in Fishtown, is expected to be finished late next year.
Frazier’s youngest son Derek said he was pleased with the news.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s exactly what Philadelphia needed. We actually have a real hero, not a made-up character, so they can teach their kids and their kids teach their kids who he was. It’ll definitely show people who Joe Frazier was, especially because of the stance of the statue.” (BH)
Two S. Philly bars, American Legion sued in connection with ballet student’s hit-and-run death, Aug. 5
The Story: Just before 4 a.m. on March 18, 2012, 22-year-old Polina Kadiyska was crossing South Broad Street at Ellsworth when she was struck by an Audi driven by Deandre Barnes, who ran a red light at a high rate of speed and slammed into her in “an extremely violent impact.”
The ballet student who came to America to study at the Rock School of Dance was taken off of life support at Thomas Jefferson Hospital after her family arrived from Bulgaria within days of the hit-and-run.
Barnes, who ran away from the scene but was caught by police shortly thereafter, registered a blood-alcohol content of .156.
In February, Barnes pleaded guilty to to homicide by vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to 5-to-10 years in prison. Several months later, her estate filed a civil wrongful-death suit against Barnes and two South Philadelphia bars where he was allegedly served alcohol on his 19th birthday.
What Happened Next: Robert Sachs, the attorney representing estate of Polina Kadiyska, told NewsWorks this month that “discovery is ongoing and the defendants steadfastly deny the driver was served in [their] establishment. We are aggressively investigating every possible responsible entity.” (BH)
What’s next for the Ridge Flats project in East Falls?, Aug. 8
The Story: In August, the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a five-story, net-zero energy building at Midvale and Ridge Avenues, the former site of the Rivage catering hall and a longtime eyesore for East Fall residents.
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority has owned the property since 1998 and has sought a developer who could reconnect the East Falls community with the lively Schuylkill riverfront.
The proposed Ridge Flats project, designed by the environmentally friendly firm of Onion Flats, includes 140 apartments, commercial space, a public garden, and 120 indoor parking spaces. The developer hoped to begin construction in late 2013.
What Happened Next: Not much.
The president of the East Falls Community Council, Barnaby Wittels, said he has heard that the developer has not yet secured equity funding for the project. “We are very disturbed by this. We thought they had an equity partner,” Wittels told NewsWorks. “It looks to us like this is another failed attempt to develop this parcel.”
Wittels said the developer has not returned calls regarding the matter. Calls for comment from Onion Flats were not returned to NewsWorks either.
“We hope [the project] happens, but we’re growing increasingly skeptical,” Wittels said. (AJ)
Camelot Schools will not move into GHS next month, Aug. 20
The Story: Officials with Camelot Schools, a for-profit education company, worked throughout the summer to broker a deal with the Philadelphia School District that would enable it to bring three of its alternative education programs to Germantown High School’s shuttered building.
A large community meeting was held and elected officials were on board. All that was left, it seemed, was approval from the School Reform Commission. That vote never happened, though. Not long beforehand, officials told Camelot that the building was not safe for students and that it needed to be inspected first.
What Happened Next: Talks between the district and Camelot regarding Germantown High School haven’t resumed, but company officials don’t believe the deal is dead.
In the meantime, a grassroots group comprised of Germantown residents has started talking about what it would want to see at the GHS building. A voc-tech school is a top contender. (AMo)
Former police officer hopes his new Manayunk restaurant can ‘bring the love’ back to Philly, Aug. 27
The Story: In late August, a new vegan/vegetarian restaurant was set to open on Main Street in Manayunk. Co-owner Arthur Johnson, a former Philadelphia cop with a troubled past, was looking to make it into more than just another restaurant though.
“It seems to me that all the love is leaving Philly. I want to show people that you can do wonderful things no matter how much you have,” Johnson said at the time. “This city will improve. I want to show kids that some man who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth has achieved his dream.”
Johnson had plans to host art shows to display local talent, karaoke nights, date nights for couples, interactive dinner theaters, free classes for children and families on healthy eating.
What Happened Next: The restaurant opened at the end of August and started off with a strong clientele — mainly folks who trickled in from the nearby yoga studios and gyms on Main Street — according to Ali Shiraz, co-owner of the restaurant.
Currently, the restaurant is closed for renovations and is set to reopen in January. Plans are also underway to bring into a new head chef, according to Shiraz. (NR)
Without cash infusion, Germantown’s iMPerRFeCT Gallery faces imminent closure, Aug. 30
The Story: Germantown’s intrepid iMPeRFeCT Gallery risked failure due to lack of funds just a few months after its one-year anniversary.
With no sustainable financial plan in place, gallery co-founders Renny Molenaar and Rocio Cabello had a hard time telling their fans in August that the space was two months behind on the rent and looking to September with nothing in the bank.
Without quick action to raise money to plug the gap, and a plan to avoid a future crisis, the couple faced giving up the Maplewood Mall space just as it was becoming a fixture for community events.
What Happened Next: An emergency appeal to iMPeRFeCT Gallery’s core supporters went a long way toward “patching the holes that we had gone into,” Molenaar said. “The community really came forth,” with over 100 donors raising a few thousand dollars to keep the doors open.
Later, a few major art sales added several thousand “critical” dollars to that total.
Once the initial crisis was met, Molenaar said the iMPeRFeCT board launched a campaign targeting about fifty core donors as monthly “sustainers” of the space, and he’s now working on an expanded campaign that will give members of the general public the option to contribute a set amount each month.
“Five dollars or $20, whatever,” he said.
Although Molenaar noted it’s a long shot, the board also wants to pursue a grant through ArtPlace America.
“It’s given us a boost that we have all these people that love us and who are willing to support the project,” he added — even though he and Cabello don’t make a salary from the space. “Someday,” he said. (AMa)