Sustainability certainly has its value. New Kensington property values have risen 10 to 20 percent since 2009, according to a Wharton study, cited in a recent 19125 Case Study prepared for the New Kensington Community Development Corporation by Community Development Consulting. All since the launch of urban sustainability initiative Sustainable 19125. Coincidence? Maybe not.
Big Green Block
Part of that initiative (the goal of which is to establish the locale as the most sustainable zip code in the nation) included the creation of a Big Green Block, a 20-acre site bordered by Front Street, Frankford Avenue, Palmer and Norris Streets. Elements of the equation designed to reach said goal included the construction of the $43M LEED-platinum Kensington School for the Creative and Performing Arts (KCAPA), and stormwater management infrastructure that included rain gardens, water basins and more at the school and at the Shissler Recreation Center, which sits behind KCAPA, at 1800 Blair Street.
That was all part of Phase 1. Yesterday, members of NKCDC hosted a meeting at Shissler, designed to generate community input about what types of projects could be included during Phase 2. Phase 2 will focus on the area south of Shissler’s parking area to Palmer Street, as well as the basketball court east of the building and the tot’s water play area adjacent to the first rainwater garden, according to Carla Castillo, NKCDC’s community engagement director.
“The vision will be set by the community,” she said. Improvements that will be part of Phase 2 include a retention basin to be installed beneath the basketball court to catch stormwater runoff from the rec center.
As for Phase 1, the improved aesthetics have increased ridership on the El and connected kids on either side of Kensington Avenue, according to Castillo. Plus, the two current retention basins collect 90 percent of stormwater runoff for the block. And short-dumping at the intersection of Blair and Palmer “is basically nonexistent due to the increase in eyes on the space and increased use of the space.”
As for new developments in Phase 2, we’ll update you when they get implemented in the future.