Spruce Street Aims to Attract More Local Shopping with City Funds, Continued Team Effort
Neighbors and businesses are looking to attract more foot traffic and customers to the commercial corridor at 48th and Spruce Streets in West Philadelphia.
Most recently, Garden Court Community Association (GCCA) and The Enterprise Center CDC were successful in their application for $9,000 from the Philadelphia Commerce Department to implement strategies from the GCCA’s Business District Plan via marketing, beautification and placemaking strategies. Specifically funds will be used for purchase and installation of planters, banners, lighting, and fence screens along the corridor, in addition to marketing materials to promote corridor businesses.
At the heart of the Garden Court neighborhood in West Philadelphia, the Spruce Street corridor extends from 47th to 49th Street along Spruce and includes part of 48th Street. Businesses along the corridor currently serve a broad cross-section of nearby residents, which include long-time homeowners, as well as newer and younger renters. But according to market research, the area’s residents are doing a significant majority of their shopping outside the neighborhood.
GCCA and TEC are working with the Spruce Street Business Association (BA) to change that.
They have worked together to improve the beauty and safety of the corridor, invite a more diverse mix of businesses, and help market the corridor and its existing businesses. With this most recent award from the City, the collaboration looks to encourage more residents to spend their dollars in the neighborhood. Keeping dollars in the community will ultimately help the businesses thrive, and will contribute to further revitalization of the corridor and surrounding neighborhoods.
So far, the collaboration has led a number of projects on the corridor and has attracted grants to further this work.
For example, the group engaged stakeholders in a comprehensive plan for the corridor, the Garden Court Business District Plan. In addition, façade grants from the city were used to improve signage and beautify storefronts as well as attract businesses to join the Spruce Street BA. Additional façade grants would help the BA attract even more members while also improving the corridor.
Businesses currently on the corridor include a number of restaurants, including Accu Pizza, New Harvest, Great Taste, Aladdin Pizza, Garden Court Eatery, J&P Seafood, and Baltimore Crab and Seafood. In addition to these, some basic amenities include a laundromat, a Meineke Car Care Center, and two dollar discount stores. A chiropractor, Dr. John Rock, and a law office, Shatzer & Sheridan also call the corridor home. Barkan Park anchors the corridor at the west end at 50th and Spruce, and Lea Elementary sits on the eastern edge at 48th.
With the opening of the Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE), a once-vacant supermarket on 48th Street now houses four commercial kitchens and a food enterprise incubator and is the future home of three neighborhood restaurants. One restaurant will feature Pakistani cooking, another Caribbean cuisine, and the last one Ethiopian fare. The Enterprise Center CDC, with some early financing and support from LISC, was able to bring this innovative project to fruition over the past few years.
Leaders from the Spruce Street BA also participated in the Corridors Connect program, which connected them with other business leaders in West Philadelphia, as well as knowledge and best practices from other successful corridors in the city. The Enterprise Center’s Retail Resource Network partnered with SCI-West, LISC, and Drexel University to engage West Philadelphia business associations in this program. In addition, TEC’s Retail Resource Network has worked to support the corridor through technical assistance and fundraising.
Funds from the City will leverage all of these prior and ongoing investments to help the district prosper: GCCA’s Business District Plan, storefront improvement grants, training of the Spruce Street Business Association leadership in the Corridors Connect program, and the impact of the new CCE.
With the purchase and installation of new banners, lighting, planters, fence screens, and marketing materials for businesses, the collaborative hopes to encourage residents to spend their dollars at these small local businesses. This will ultimately help the neighborhood and its retail center to flourish.
If you live nearby – or even if you don’t – check out Spruce Street’s restaurant and retail options. By becoming a regular neighborhood customer, you can support the team effort of GCCA, Spruce Street BA, TEC, SCI-West, and the City. And be on the look out for the exciting changes on the corridor!