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The Dirt Factory closed for now, looking for new space

May 24, 2018

The Dirt Factory, the community compost facility that opened at 4308 Market Street six years ago, has closed due to the sale of the property. The facility is currently looking for a new home and is not accepting composting donations from the community at the moment, according to The Dirt Factory website.

The University City District opened the facility in 2012 and transformed an empty lot into a neighborhood asset. It’s not yet known what the new owner is planning to do with the lot. So far no construction permits have been issued. A new “higher end” apartment building is being proposed next door to the lot – at 4312-20 Market.

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Police search for suspect in armed robberies of four banks in University City, including PNC at 40th and Walnut on Tuesday

May 24, 2018

Police are asking for the public’s assistance to help find the person who they believe robbed five banks in the city in the past month, four of them in the University City area. The latest robbery was Tuesday, May 22 when the suspect, a man in his late 40’s to early 50’s (pictured), entered the PNC Bank branch at 40th and Walnut at around 4 p.m. and and held up the bank at gunpoint.

The suspect was armed with a black semi-automatic handgun in this robbery. He fled on foot with an unknown amount of cash, according to reports.

Police believe this person also committed the following robberies: Continue Reading

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Jazz Heritage Series kicks off this Thursday at Malcolm X Park

May 23, 2018

Another great West Philly summer tradition, Jazz Heritage Series, will kick off this Thursday (May 24) at Malcolm X Park at 52nd and Pine. The series, presented by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and co-hosted by the Friends of Malcolm X Park and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, will feature free live performances by well-known Philadelphia area musicians every other Thursday (weather permitted) at 7 p.m. through September 13. Here’s the full lineup:

May 24 – Keni Jackson, Experience
June 7 – Keyboardist Glenn Bryan & Friends
June 21 – The Budesa Brothers
July 5 – Drummer Carlos DeVaughn & The All-Stars
July 19 – Vocalist Shirley Lites
Aug. 2 – Bassist Tony (TNT) Jones & Beyond The Dream
Aug. 16 – The Barbara Walker Story
Aug. 30 – The Clef Club Student Ensemble
Sept. 13 – The Sam Reed Band

Just a reminder that Cedar Park Jazz series will also return this summer. The first performance is next Friday, June 1, at 6 p.m.

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Cedar Park Neighbors scholarship application open for young adults

May 23, 2018

Cedar Park map (click to enlarge)

Now through June 15, the 2018-2019 Cedar Park Neighbors Gary Bronson Memorial Scholarship application is open for young adults pursuing higher education. Applicants must live within the stated boundaries of Cedar Park (see map) and be attending a regionally accredited post-secondary school in the fall to be considered for the scholarship.

Since 1988, the Cedar Park Neighbors Scholarship Committee has been providing young people with both mentorship and financial support to help them be successful in their post-secondary endeavors. In 2017, over $11,000 was raised and nine students were funded with cash scholarships to help defray some of the incidental costs of attendance. During the school year, the committee reaches out to the students via calls, emails and care packages at finals.  Continue Reading

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‘Higher end’ apartment building proposed for 4300 block of Market

May 22, 2018

Artist’s rendering of 6-story apartment building proposed for 4312-20 Market Street. The white box on the first floor is a driveway that goes through the building to access five off-street parking spots in the rear of the building.

The Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) zoning committee heard plans for 36-unit “higher end” apartment building last night that would be built across five fenced-in vacant lots on the 4300 block of Market Street.

The six-story building would include two- and three-bedroom apartments, a roof deck and five off-street parking spots at 4312 through 4320 Market Street. Its proposed design includes a driveway cut through the middle of the building to access the five off-street sites. That driveway, which would require drivers to pull across the sidewalk along Market Street, caused some concern for zoning committee members.  Continue Reading

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Birding zine release party, urban wildlife walk this week at The Woodlands

May 21, 2018

If you dig birds, here’s some good news. Local birder Victoria Sindlinger and illustrator Jess Ruggierio have teamed up with The Woodlands to develop a guide to birds at the cemetery. And it’s a zine!

A release part for the Guide to Birding at The Woodlands is scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Woodlands (40th and Woodland). The zine will be available for sale at the event. Sindlinger will also be hosting bird walks at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

A few days later, on Saturday, May 26, The Woodlands is hosting an “Urban Wildlife Walk.” This includes birds, snakes, salamanders and other critters that call The Woodlands home. It gets underway at 7:30 a.m. rain or shine and is “pay what you wish.”

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3 new apartment building projects on agenda for tonight’s Spruce Hill Zoning meeting

May 21, 2018

The public is invited to attend tonight’s Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) Zoning Committee meeting to learn more about new development projects in the area. Some of the projects on the agenda (see below) were presented at earlier meetings, and this is an opportunity for community members to ask questions or provide comments. The meeting will take place at the SCHA office (257 S. 45th St), beginning at 7 p.m.

The meeting will discuss the following three projects:

Apartment building at 4045 Baltimore (see rendering): Presentation and discussion of façade materials for use at this apartment complex under construction. This project was presented for the community last year and submitted for approval by the Zoning Board of Adjustment at the end of 2017.  Continue Reading

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‘Thurgood’ at the Bushfire Theatre on Friday and Saturday

May 18, 2018

This weekend you can get a rare glimpse inside the Bushfire Theatre for the Performing Arts at 52nd and Locust (224 S. 52nd St.) for the staging of Thurgood, the acclaimed bio-play about the former Supreme Court justice and civil rights icon.

Written by television and film director and producer George Stevens Jr., Thurgood is a stripped down portrayal of Marshall’s life as told by him and includes seminal moments in American history (the announcement of the verdict in Brown vs. Board of Education in the play would regular elicit celebratory hoots and hollers from audiences on Broadway).

Bushfire founder Al Simpkins will direct.

Founded in 1977, the Bushfire stages a few performances a year. The theater itself dates back to 1909, when it served as a Vaudeville house called The Locust. It was later converted to a movie theater until it was abandoned and fell into disrepair.

Tickets for Thurgood range from $15 (for kids) to $30. The show starts at 7:30 tonight and Saturday night.

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Jewish Farm School offering early childhood gardening program in West Philly

May 18, 2018

The Jewish Farm School, a Philly-based environmental education nonprofit, recently received a grant to run a series of early childhood garden-based education program in West Philadelphia. The Side Yard Seedlings program is launching May 31 and will offer a dozen sessions on weekdays and Sundays this summer and fall. Children ages 2 to 6 and their caregivers will be gathering at the Jewish Farm School garden at 50th and Cedar for 90-minute sessions to care for plants and for age-appropriate games and activities connected to the cycles of the seasons and the themes of the Hebrew calendar.  Continue Reading

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Adopt Watson and beware of Lilies

May 18, 2018

Watson is available for adoption.

Editor’s Note: We are continuing our monthly publications provided by West Philly’s volunteer-run cat rescue organization Project MEOW. This post is about a cat currently available for adoption through Project MEOW and PAWS and also about the importance of keeping your cat away from toxic plants and flowers, like lilies.

Everyone, or almost everyone loves flowers. Especially in the dead of winter, what could be nicer than a big vase full of flowers to make us believe that spring has not abandoned us? Unfortunately, many kinds, including the lovely white Easter Lilies, gorgeous Asian Lilies and even plants in the lily family – Astromeria for example, are highly toxic to cats. Toxic in that they are lethal if consumed and sometimes the damage cannot be reversed even if you get your cat to the vet shortly after ingestion.

Most florists do not mention this in their shops, although Project MEOW gives a shout-out to any florists that DO tell customers that lilies are deadly to cats. Sadly, a few years ago one of our recently adopted cats died from ingesting lilies, so it’s not as unusual as we would like to hope. What do you do if someone gives you a stunning arrangement that contains lilies? Pull them out of the arrangement and give them to a pet-free neighbor.  Continue Reading

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Mural unveiling (and food and music) for esteemed journalist, West Philly native Ed Bradley (updated)

May 17, 2018

The Ed Bradley mural at 949 Belmont Ave. (Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia).

UPDATE: The event has been postponed until Saturday, June 16 due to the weather.

Mural Arts Philadelphia will unveil a new piece honoring journalist and West Philly native Ed Bradley on Saturday, May 19 June 16 at noon at the intersection of Belmont and Wyalusing Streets (949 Belmont St.).

Bradley was best known as a reporter for some 26 years on 60 Minutes. He was the first Black television correspondent to cover the White House and won dozens of awards during his career. That career in journalism began at Philadelphia radio station WDAS. Bradley had also been a public school teacher in Philadelphia, soon after he graduated from Cheyney University.

Bradley died in 2006 at age 65 of complications from lymphocytic leukemia.  Continue Reading

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Suspect in shooting death of 23-year-old Penn State student Dominique Oglesby arrested

May 17, 2018

Dominique Oglesby

Police have made an arrest in the killing of 23-year-old Penn State student Dominique Oglesby on March 18 near 52nd and Market. Julius Scott, 25, was arrested on Wednesday morning on the 5700 block of Pine Street, just a couple blocks from the 18th District police station.

Oglesby, who was a senior at Penn Sate and was expected to graduate this spring, was shot and killed outside the Galaxy West Bar and Grill at 52nd and Market on a Sunday afternoon. She was reportedly involved in an altercation with the shooter and another woman inside the bar and called her family for help. After her father and grandfather arrived to help her they were all shot. Oglesby was shot once in the back and died later that day at the hospital. Her father and grandfather survived the shooting.

Police released information on the suspect last month.

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Saad’s closed for Ramadan; special hours at Manakeesh

May 16, 2018

The holy month of Ramadan begins this week, and here’s what’s happening at two popular Muslim-owned businesses.

Saad’s Halal at 45th and Walnut will be closed for a little over a month while the owners take their annual vacation. The restaurant closed its doors on May 14 and will reopen on Monday, June 18, according to a sign posted on the window (see photo).

Manakeesh, the Lebanese cafe and bakery across the street from Saad’s, will have special hours until June 16. The restaurant will be closed during the day, but open nightly – from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.. Check out their Facebook page for updates.

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West Philly incumbents win in May 15 primary election

May 16, 2018

The 2018 primary election results are in, and there are no surprises this year for West Philly Democratic candidates.

Incumbent Jim Roebuck beat his opponents, lawyer Jeff Curry and the president of the Kingsessing Area Civic Association Diane Settles, for the State House of Representatives District 188 seat, which includes parts of Spruce Hill, Squirrel Hill, Walnut Hill, Spruce Hill, Garden Court, Beige Block and University City. Roebuck received 56.17 percent of total votes, according to Philly Election Results, the website reporting unofficial election results.

Vanessa Lowery Brown, the incumbent seeking her fifth term in the State House of Representatives, District 190, which includes parts of Cobbs Creek, Belmont, Carroll Park, Cathedral Park, Mill Creek, Haddington, East Parkside, West Powelton, Allegheny West and Lehigh West, beat her opponents Raymond H. Bailey and Wanda Logan. Brown received 64.92 percent of total votes, according to Philly Election Results.

Candidates Joanna McClinton (District 191) and Morgan Cephas (District 192) were running unopposed.

For more election results, including the results by ward and division, go here.

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Construction of 3.0 University Place building expected to begin this year

May 16, 2018

3.0 University Place rendering (via www.30universityplace.com)

It looks like the developers are finally ready to proceed with the construction of 3.0 University Place at 41st and Market, five years after the project was announced.

Construction site at 41st and Market (Photo West Philly Local). 

This environmentally-friendly office building is on the way from University Place Associates, the developers behind the 2.0 University Place building at 41st and Powelton. 3.0 University Place is being built where the old Pep Boys used to be at 41st and Market St. The developers tout the new building’s LEED v4 Platinum environmental certification, and claim that tenants can take advantage of energy- and water-efficient systems, as well as cleaned and filtered indoor air.

3.0 University Place is the latest in the trend towards upscale, tech-oriented buildings pushing ever westwards into West Philadelphia, following developments like Cira SouthSchuylkill Yards, 3675 Market, the Pennovation Center, Campus Commerce Center, and Penn Medicine’s Center for Healthcare TechnologyContinue Reading

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PPA ‘courtesy tows’ cars parked on 4500 block of Spruce due to road work. But where do they end up?

May 15, 2018

This neighbor had an interesting experience this afternoon when she found that her car, which had been parked near 45th and Spruce, was “courtesy towed” by the Philadelphia Parking Authority due to road work. Spruce Street between 44th and 45th, was closed all day on Tuesday due to the work. If your car has also been towed from that location and you can’t find it, this story may be helpful.

“When I parked my car at that location during the early afternoon [on Monday], I did not see any signs posted about parking restrictions for [Tuesday],” Emily writes. “I called PPA and was told that my car had been “courtesy towed”… and to call my local police district to find out where it was. I called district 18 and was told that they were aware that a number of cars had been “courtesy towed”… around the neighborhood, but they had not been given a list of where all of the cars had been “courtesy towed” to by PPA like they were supposed to. They said that some cars had been towed to the area around 49th and Springfield, but that other cars from the area around 45th and Spruce may be in different locations.  Continue Reading

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Don’t Forget to Vote: Rundown of nominations up for grabs; three important ballot questions

May 14, 2018

Don’t forget to vote in the primary election this Tuesday (May 15), when Pennsylvanians from both parties will choose candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislature. Only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote for party candidates in the primaries. Independents can only vote on the ballot questions.

First thing’s first. Go here to check your voter registration status. If you’re not sure what district you live in for state legislature or congressional races (it can get confusing with all the redistricting), check here. Go here to find your polling place.  Continue Reading

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Dinner in Three Acts: Delicious fundraiser for Curio Theatre

May 14, 2018

Dinner in Three Acts is a fun and delicious way to support educational programs at Curio Theatre.

Curio Theatre Company, the community theater at 48th and Baltimore, is starting an exciting new fundraising tradition. On Sunday, May 20, the company will be “producing” a Dinner in Three Acts – a three-course dinner at selected West Philadelphia homes. This is how it works:

Act One – 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. – Guests will start with registration and appetizers at one home.
Act Two – 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. – For their entree, guests will choose one style of cuisine from a varied selection served for groups of 10 to 15 people.
Act Three – 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. – Guests will return to the theater for dessert with coffee and tea.  Continue Reading

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Unveiling of new version of the ‘Broken Chains” mural at 52nd and Larchwood this Saturday

May 11, 2018

The design for the new “Broken Chains” mural at 500 S. 52nd St. (southwest corner of 52nd and Larchwood).

A new “Broken Chains” mural at 52nd and Larchwood, where several buildings are undergoing extensive renovation, will be unveiled Saturday, May 12th at 3 p.m.

The original Broken Chains mural (see below), a tribute to Black empowerment and leadership, will be removed as part of the ongoing renovation of the building at 500 S. 52nd (southwest corner of 52nd and Larchwood), one of several buildings near that intersection that the local development company, Spak Group, is renovating from the ground up. When completed, the building will include ground floor commercial (a sit-down restaurant) and three apartments.  Continue Reading

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