The Porch at 30th Street Station has been upping its game. Launched in 2011, the space has been improved in phases demonstrating an alternative way to public space making: build what you can when you can, then improve. It’s like buying an old home and fixing it up over time.
View of the Porch. Image from UCD. Because they take nicer photos than we do.
Over the last year, the folks at University City District that conceived The Porch have introduced innovative programming like beer gardens and a mini golf course, and a WXPN concert. When ongoing 30th Street Station renovations caused a less than park-like setting at The Porch, UCD staff envisioned and installed a temporary wall where scores of flowers will bloom this spring.
Good stuff from The Porch
The Porch Partnership Programming Fund…
While the University City District is known for various developments of public places that impact local economic development, it also has programs designed to develop human capital. The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) is a bridge that connects work-ready and trained West Philly workers with local employers. The entirely grant-based initiative will have additional help thanks to a recent $10,000 award from Citizens Bank to aid its workforce development program, the Center for Economic Development, located at 4725 Chestnut St.
The program, largely the brainchild of Matt Bergheiser, executive director at UCD, was founded in 2009 with the goal of developing workers’ potential in the area.
“It’s about work,” said Sheila Ireland, the program’s director. The most recent grant will provide “the opportunity to bring more services to more people” and “allows us to expand our impact in West Philadelphia.”
Its adult programs have jobs waiting…
Back in the dark ages (2011), the area now known as The Porch at 30th Street Station was 34 parallel parking spaces. It was a chance for Philadelphia’s finest drivers to display their parking prowess. Now, the half-acre strip of land located along the Market Street side of the nation’s third busiest train station has been repurposed into a public space that can turn a lunch hour into a beer garden, a street performance, or a WXPN event.
The Porch. Image from UCD.
According to data collected at The Porch in 2012, the site features 250 places to sit and 68 planters. There were 78 planned concert performances, and 1,224 seemingly impromptu performances via the Heart and Soul campaign that put painted pianos around University City for anyone to play. Sixteen hundred rounds of mini golf were enjoyed. More than 13,000 al fresco lunches were served.
Renovation activity at the Western Plaza at 30th Street Station is poised to give The Porch a new companion. But where there’s been a chain link construction fence to the west of the Porch for months, there is now a temporary green wall.
“It really bothered me,” said Nate Hommel, capital projects manager at University City District, about the views of construction fences offered to visitors and passersby of the Porch by current construction. “We wanted to see what we could do to give it some new life.”
Greening the fences
The folks at UCD got to work in December thinking about how to transform the site. Last week, twelve creative construction modules were installed at the Porch side of 30th Street Station along the construction fence that runs for about fifty yards. The modules are nine-foot tall planters and include shrubbery at all eye-levels. The modules also…
The University City District (UCD) has been establishing itself as a major player in University City neighborhood relations. From the announcement of its recent plans to renovate the 40th Street Septa Trolley Portal, to their staff in leaf cleaning vehicles that travel the streets of West Philly via bike lanes, it’s hard to go somewhere along Baltimore Avenue and not see something UCD is involved with in some way.
As they have in the past, their efforts are stretching into Powelton Village, where the UCD organized and will soon implement a plan to install improved pedestrian lighting along the 3400 block of Lancaster Avenue.
34th and Lancaster
“I think the lighting plan is just another step to kind of brand Lancaster Avenue as a successful retail corridor,” said Geroge Poulin, past-president and current zoning chair of the Powelton Village Civic
It seems logical that with a 21 percent increase in the 20- to 34-year-old population over the past dozen years in University City, and more than three dozen new businesses opening their doors in the area in 2011 alone, there is an increased demand on the public transit system that serves the area. The 34 and 13 trolleys are staples of the West Philly experience in the neighborhoods west of the 40th Street Portal.
University City District recently announced plans to renovate and transform the portal, out of which the 11, 13, 34 and 36 trolleys all head down different westbound routes, into a greened and pedestrian friendly plaza.
Plans call for renovations to occur in two phases. The first, which could cost up to $1M, will work to improve pedestrian safety, the…