Richmond Street closure postponed again
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation today announced a new date for the two-year Richmond Street closure to begin: Thursday, Feb. 20.
Snowstorms forced the project to be postponed twice, on Jan. 23 and Feb. 3.
The detour is part of a construction project involving four new overhead Contrail bridges and a sewer main replacement. Richmond Street will be detoured between Lehigh Avenue and Cambria Street, PennDOT said.
The detour will take traffic on Richmond Street over Lehigh Avenue, Aramingo Avenue and Allegheny Avenue. Richmond Street will be rebuilt on a new alignment to the east of the existing roadway to make room for a new ramp and other improvements on I-95, PennDOT said.
The finished project will include two through lanes, a center turn lane, tracks for SEPTA’s Route 15 trolley, northbound and southbound bicycle lanes, sidewalks and decorative street lights, according to PennDOT.
The construction is part of a $91 million project to improve the I-95/Girard Avenue Interchange. The project is scheduled to finish in early 2016, PennDOT said.
For more information on the I-95 improvements in the area of the Girard Avenue Interchange, visit www.95revive.com.
Two shot in robbery
Two men were hospitalized after a robbery just northeast of Port Richmond.
The incident took place around 1:30 a.m. the 3700 block of Frankford Avenue outside of the King Garden Chinese take-out restaurant, according to 6ABC.
The victims, 29 and 25 years old, were approached by two gunmen, who shot the men in the neck and made off with $40, police said.
The men were taken to Temple Hospital where they are listed in critical but stable condition, CBS3 Eyewitness News said. The suspects fled the scene. No arrests have been made at this time, police said. ••
Progress in blight fight
A Reinvestment Fund study found that Philadelphia’s practice of fining negligent property owners has had an impact in fighting blight, according to a philly.com article.
Philadelphia’s “windows and doors” law requires properties in mostly occupied blocks to have working doors and windows, and a state law passed in 2010 helped give the city an even greater ability to fight blight, according to the article.
The Department of Licenses & Inspections has been fining owners whose properties have boarded up or missing windows or doors.
The owners may have to pay $300 each day they are out of compliance. The fines and the possibility of being taken to “blight court” has reportedly scared slum lords into compliance.
The study identified about 25,000 vacant properties, most of which were in North Central Philadelphia. Port Richmond was one of the neighborhoods identified as having the highest number of citations. ••
380 new jobs at port
Fibria Celulose S.A., a Brazilian pulp and paper company, announced that it will move its shipping operations to the Tioga Marine Terminal in Port Richmond, creating 380 jobs.
State Sen. Mike Stack praised the move in a press release last week. “We have been working to make sure Tioga Marine Terminal remains one of the world’s best facilities and this announcement is confirmation that the effort is paying off,” he said.
The company’s shipping operations were previously located in the Port of Baltimore. The move is expected to create $40 million in additional economic activity, according to Stack’s statement. ••
East Kensington robberies
Police have arrested and charged two men after two robberies in East Kensington.
The first incident happened at 2100 Sergeant St. on Friday, Feb. 7, at 10:55 p.m., according to a police spokesperson. An 18-year-old male was walking eastbound on Sergeant Street when he was struck on his neck and held up at gunpoint by the suspect, 21-year-old Lonny Burton of the 4100 block of Parrish Street. Burton told the victim to get on the ground and surrender his belongings. He made off with a lighter and headphones. Burton was later stopped by police and charged with robbery.
The second incident occurred inside a store on the 2500 block of Frankford Avenue at 3:25 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9. The male suspect, 58-year-old John Hart of the 2100 block of E. Tucker Street, asked for two packs of cigarettes, then claimed he forgot his credit card and left the store with the two items. He then punched a woman when she approached him, police said. Tucker was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and robbery related charges. ••
A 25-year-old woman was walking on the 2400 block of Martha Street in East Kensington—just a block from the Horatio B. Hackett School—when a man on a bicycle rode up next to her and exposed himself, according to a police bulletin.
The incident took place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11. The man was in his mid-20s, thin, white or Latino, wearing all black clothing and a hooded sweatshirt and riding a black BMX-style bike. ••
PYT to expand
The owner of PYT, a restaurant in the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Northern Liberties, is planning to expand into franchises as early as next year, according to Michael Klein of philly.com.
“Imagine several hundred PYTs in airports, malls and cities,” said Dan Rowe of franchise development company Fransmart, who will guide the expansion.
Entrepreneur Tommy Up signed a franchising deal with Rowe, who has already been contacted by people who are interested in buying in, according to the philly.com article. The popular restaurant and bar specializes in their unique selection of burgers and shakes.
Franchises will be awarded this summer, with openings projected for as early as next year. Up also has plans to open more company-owned PYTs in Philly. ••