Things have been happening along Torresdale Avenue in Tacony.
Fourteen new businesses have opened and 32 jobs have been created, said Alex Balloon, manager of the Tacony Community Development Corporation. Graffiti has declined dramatically. The Avenue is being cleaned regularly. Forty trees have been planted, and 70 properties have been repaired.
And, during the last two years, Balloon said, 15 storefront facades have been restored.
It was that last accomplishment that was celebrated May 27 with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at Torresdale Avenue and Disston Street.
The restored stores, which are located up and down Torresdale Avenue, Balloon said, date from 1890 to 1930. A good example is DeNofa’s Deli at 6946 Torresdale, Balloon said, a building that dates back to the second decade of the 20th century.
Like many of the buildings on the Avenue, DeNofa’s was covered with siding until that was removed in late 2012. “We uncovered the historic original details,” Balloon said, “and opened windows that were bricked up or covered over.”
Balloon said the facade restoration project was done in a way that “celebrates the history” of the buildings.
The work cost from $10,000 to $24,000 per storefront, Balloon said, but added owners kicked in about 15 percent. Fifty percent was paid by the city’s Commerce Department as part of its Storefront Improvement Program, and 35 percent of the costs were paid by the CDC, Balloon said.
“The Department of Commerce works every day to support small businesses and to create strong, well-managed commercial corridors throughout Philadelphia,” said Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development. “Across the city, we work with community organizations, such as Tacony CDC, to grow businesses, create jobs and build sustainable neighborhoods.”
City Councilman Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.) wants to see Tacony’s business corridor grow.
“I made a commitment to Torresdale Avenue by opening my district office here,” Henon said during last week’s ribbon-cutting. “It’s exciting that we can keep growing Torresdale Avenue into a true destination with similar commitment from Tacony CDC, the Commerce Department and Waste Management.”
The Bleigh Avenue-based waste-hauler is giving the Tacony CDC $85,000 per year, Balloon said.
“We really believe in partnerships,” Balloon said. He said the money is paid to the CDC in lieu of taxes to support the organization’s revitalization efforts. The city’s tax-credit program allows businesses to donate money to community groups that use the dollars for economic development.
The CDC worked toward a big-money project like the storefront restorations by taking small, measurable steps first, Balloon said. The CDC got involved in cleanups and tree-plantings.
That’s the way to get things accomplished, he said. “Start with small projects you can get done.” ••