Reservations now open for University City Dining Days

Posted on 30 June 2016

University City Dining Days return on July 14 with an impressive list of participating restaurants, well-established and new. Just a reminder that the purpose of this popular annual event organized by the University City District is to encourage folks to visit their local eateries during one of the slowest summer months. This summer, a record thirty-four of University City’s most popular dining destinations – including seven restaurants participating for the first time – will offer a pre-fixe three-course dinner special for $15, $25 or $35 (drinks and tips are not included).

The restaurants are now taking reservations, including popular spots such as Distrito, Dock Street Brewery, Stephen Starr’s Pod, Han Dynasty, and more. Seven new restaurants have joined this year’s program: Jose Garces’ JG Domestic, new Baltimore Avenue eatery Renata’s Kitchen, Nicole Marquis’ HipCityVeg, new fast casual concept Herban Quality Eats, Bobby Flay’s Bobby’s Burger Palace, Japanese hand-drawn noodle spot Ochatto, and Indian restaurant Tandoor.

The event will run for 10 days: July 14 through July 24.

The full list of participating restaurants, prices, and contact information for each restaurant are available at: (make you reservation directly at your restaurant of choice).

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West Philly arts organizations get support from city

Posted on 29 June 2016


Students at Samuel Powel school design sashes inspired by North African tile patterns in a partnership with University City Arts League (Photo by Gudmund Iversen).


Thirteen Philadelphia groups that offer youth arts enrichment programs have recently received recognition and some financial boost from the city, and it’s great to see some West Philly arts organizations on the list.

peoplehoodparadeThe Philadelphia Cultural Fund announced the 2016 Youth Arts Enrichment Grant recipients, which include well-known West Philly-based organizations: Al-Bustan Seeds of CultureUniversity City Arts League, and Spiral Q Puppet Theater. Grants are ranging from $10,000 to $20,000.

The Youth Arts Enrichment (YAE) Grant Program supports specific programming that uses the arts to enrich the lives of Philadelphia’s young people both in and out of school. YAE grants provide project support for programs that occur between July 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017 and will deliver high quality arts instruction, training, and participatory experiences to young people (aged 5 to 18) who are least likely to access cultural enrichment through other avenues. This includes programming in Philadelphia’s most underserved, impoverished communities.

Besides the YAE grants, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund has awarded general operating grants to dozens of local arts and culture organizations. See the full list of recipients here.

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62-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s missing from 52nd and Larchwood

Posted on 28 June 2016

BettyJeanPolice are asking for the public’s help locating Betty Jean Severe, a 62-year-old West Philly woman who has been missing since Friday, June 24. She was last seen at her residence on the 500 block of S. 52nd Street at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

Betty Jean suffers from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, according to police. She is known to frequent the area of 49th Street and Baltimore Avenue, as well as McDonald’s located at 52nd and Markets Streets.

Betty Jean is five feet five inches tall, weighs 140lbs, with a thin build, brown eyes, dark brown complexion, and curly black/gray hair; unknown clothing description.

Anyone with information on Betty Jean’s whereabouts, please contact Southwest Detective Division at 215-686-3183 / 3184 or call 911.

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USciences names new president

Posted on 28 June 2016

katz_paulThe university’s Board of Trustees has named a new president, 18 months after the previous University of the Sciences president, Helen Giles-Gee, stepped down.

Dr. Paul Katz will serve as the university’s 25th president, according to an announcement by Board Chairman Marvin Samson. Katz, who has served as founding dean of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU), will begin his presidency on September 1, 2016.

“Over the course of more than 40 years in healthcare and higher education, Dr. Paul Katz has gained invaluable experience and has demonstrated skilled and visionary leadership, which will be a tremendous benefit to University of the Sciences,” Samson said in a statement.

Katz has been the chief architect, executive, and academic leader of CMSRU since 2010 and has held a variety of other executive leadership positions within medical schools and health systems, including senior vice president and chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, chairman of medicine and physician-in-chief at Georgetown University Hospital, and chief operating officer at Georgetown University Medical Center.  Continue Reading

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What locations need more bike racks? Help UCD bring additional bike parking

Posted on 27 June 2016


University City District (UCD) is planning to install more bike racks in the area and needs help identifying places that need bike parking or additional bike racks.

Currently, UCD is accepting photos showing overcrowded or out-of-repair bike parking or bikes locked to trees, railings, etc. along commercial corridors and at other neighborhood destinations in University City.

You can share these photos on Twitter using #UCbikeparking or email them to: Please include the date, time, and location. This information will be used to help select future bike rack locations.


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Hearing for Chestnut Street rowhomes continues Monday (updated)

Posted on 26 June 2016

Editor’s note (6/28/2016): The hearing to determine whether the demolition will be halted concluded yesterday, and a ruling is required within 30 days. The hearing was held to decide whether a demolition permit, applied on March 17 for 4046-4048 Chestnut Street, should be voided. An application to declare the building “historic” was made on May 16, just prior to the permit’s issuance. The question the ruling will answer is whether the demolition permit is valid and whether a temporary injunction to halt the demolition will be lifted.

The hearing that could determine whether the late 19th century rowhomes on the 4000 of Chestnut are demolished will continue Monday, June 27, at 1:30 p.m.

Read more about the history of the buildings here and here. They are owned by different developers and are currently used as rental housing. Demolition permits are currently pending for 4046-4048 Chestnut and 4050-52 Chestnut. Both sets of twins have been nominated for the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. This hearing is focusing on whether a demolition permit is still valid if a building has been nominated for historic designation after it has been issued and before it has been demolished.

The hearing is in Room 232 of City Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.


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Project MEOW seeking foster homes for rescued cats

Posted on 24 June 2016

Project MEOW, a West Philly-based, all-volunteer run feline rescue organization, is seeking temporary foster homes for cats and kittens from West Philadelphia neighborhoods. See the flier below for more information or email:

The organization is also asking for donations:

“Spring and summer are peak season for kittens, and we’ve got ’em! Help us out by visiting the Donate page to send money via PayPal, snail mail, or just buy us something from our Amazon Wish List.”


Click to enlarge.

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Viewing and funeral for West Philly teen killed in Orlando shooting set for this Friday

Posted on 24 June 2016


A viewing for Akyra Murray, the 18-year-old West Philadelphia woman killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fl. on June 12, will take place Friday, June 24, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Monumental Baptist Church located at 50th and Locust Streets. The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. at the church and burial will be at Mount Peace Cemetery.

Akyra is the youngest victim of the mass shooting, in which 49 people were shot and killed. She graduated from West Catholic Preparatory High School earlier this month and was visiting Florida with her family. She went to the club with her cousin, Tiara Parker, and friend Patience Carter, also from West Philadelphia. Both Parker and Carter survived the shooting.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Akyra’s family.

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U. City Historical Society fighting demolition of Chestnut Street rowhomes

Posted on 22 June 2016

The University City Historical Society (UCHS) is waging a legal battle to stop the demolition of the buildings at 4046-48 Chestnut Street and the construction of an apartment building in its place. These properties, along with the rest of the block date to the 1870s and are currently nominated to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Due to their nomination, the validity of the demolition permits are in question.

“We currently have a stay on them,” writes Kelly Wiles, a UCHS Board member, and tomorrow (Thursday, June 23) at 11 a.m., a hearing is scheduled in Room 232 of City Hall to determine their fate. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

“We welcome community support and involvement by those who are interested in maintaining the character and preservation of West Philadelphia’s built environment as well as those who are concerned with the changing patterns of large-scale development, poorly-constructed  and out of place building stock, zoning issues, the displacement of non-student residents,” writes Wiles.  Continue Reading

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Nature Nights kick off at The Woodlands on Friday, June 24 (rescheduled from Thursday due to weather)

Posted on 22 June 2016


Another great chance to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature is coming up this Friday (June 24) when The Woodlands kicks off its Nature Nights series with a Firefly Night.

Pack your picnic and flashlights and come to The Woodlands (40th and Woodland) from 6-9 p.m. for a chance to spend some after-dark time inside the gates, which usually close at dusk, and learn more about urban ecosystem and the creatures who call it home.

Tangle Movement Arts is performing a free firefly inspired show, and University City Arts League will be back again this year with fun crafts for families. Lil’ Pop Shop will also be back with their colorful truck and sweet treats.

The event is free and open to the public. More details are available on the The Woodlands’ website and Facebook.

Also, check out these Nature Nights scheduled for this summer:

Bat Night – Go on a bat walk after hours on Thursday, July 28, 6-9 p.m.

Moth Night – Look for moths after dark at The Woodlands on Thursday, Aug. 25, 7-10 p.m.

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Gangster Vegan cancels immediate plans for West Philly (updated)

Posted on 22 June 2016


UPDATE (6/23/2016): Gangster Vegan Organics owner Vinny DePaul told that he was planning to sign the lease for the storefront at 4305 Locust St. after it was fully renovated, but “started having issues with the landlord” and decided not to continue with his plans for the space. Instead, he’s eyeing a new location in the area.

Looks like Gangster Vegan Organics, a restaurant and juice bar, is not coming to Locust Street as previously reported, and the space is now back on the market.

An employee at the only current Gangster Vegan organic location (in Norristown), said that “things didn’t quite work out” with the building’s owner, but West Philly is not completely out of the picture.

Gangster Vegan Organics is now focusing on their expansion in Phoenixville instead.

“For Rent” signs have recently been posted on the windows at 4305 Locust St. (pictured). The ground floor space has been renovated after the fire in March 2015 that forced Cafe Renata, which was renting it at the time, to relocate to Baltimore Avenue.

Rana Fayez

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SEPTA Trolley tunnel to close for 9-day maintenance in July

Posted on 21 June 2016

septaroute36The annual trolley tunnel maintenance project, SEPTA Trolley Tunnel Blitz, is scheduled for next month and will take nine days to complete. The tunnel will close at 10 p.m. on Friday, July 8 and will re-open for trolley service at 4 a.m. on Monday, July 18, 2016.

During the blitz, trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 will not operate through the tunnel. Trolley service will begin and end at 40th and Market Streets; trolleys will use their alternate diversion service routing to connect to SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line at 40th and Market Streets.

This is the fourth year SEPTA has held the Trolley Tunnel Blitz. In 2015, the tunnel was closed for 16 days.

During this year’s blitz, more than 400 members of SEPTA’s in-house Engineering, Maintenance & Construction Division crews will work around-the-clock on key maintenance and construction tasks.  Continue Reading

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Apartment building with parking garage planned for 4200 block of Chestnut

Posted on 20 June 2016


A five-story apartment building with a parking garage is coming to 4215 Chestnut Street.

Another apartment building is coming to the area. Recently, we noticed new construction next door to Dana Mandi, a South Asian grocery store on the 4200 block of Chestnut Street. A quick search in the database of the Office of Licences and Inspections revealed that a five-story, 28-unit apartment building is in the works for 4215 Chestnut St.

What’s interesting though is that the first floor of the building will be used as a parking garage. Due to an increasing amount of apartment buildings in the area, availability of parking spots has been named as one of the biggest issues at community meetings discussing new development.

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Ultimate Sidewalk Sale Fundraiser, summer theatre shows at Curio

Posted on 17 June 2016

CurioSidewalkSaleAlthough their 2015/2016 season recently ended, Curio Theatre folks have been keeping themselves busy with working on a few summer theatre shows and their first Ultimate Sidewalk Sale Fundraiser. We’re happy to share more information on these events.

Curio Theatre’s Ultimate Sidewalk Sale Fundraiser will take place on Saturday, June 18, from Noon – 4 p.m. in front of the Calvary Center at 4740 Baltimore Ave. Curio is trying to keep their ticket prices low and classes affordable as the theater aims to benefit all of the West Philadelphia community, so all proceeds from the sale will go to the theatre’s Scholarship Fund and general operating costs. The sale features a great variety of collectibles: art, ceramics, housewares, gently used clothing, furniture, toys, and more at very low prices. Rain date is Sunday, June 19.

anigone• For the culmination of their second year, the CuriosiTeens! present Sophocles’ timeless ANTIGONE on Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m., Friday, June 24 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 25 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Written over 2,500 years ago, this piece finds sensitive relevance as performed by the theatre’s advanced teen troupe. All shows will be presented on the theatre’s Mainstage (4740 Baltimore Ave.). Tickets are $5-$10 and can be reserved here.

• Curio presents MAGDALENE by Rachel Gluck as part of the 2016 SoLow Fest June 16-26. This part ritual, part performance tells the story of Mary Magdalene, one of the most complex but recognizable icons of the feminine divinity. The 45-minute long show is directed by Brenna Geffers and performed by Colleen Hughes on Curio’s Corner Stage. Here are the remaining shows: Friday June 17: 8 p.m., Saturday June 18: 9 p.m., Sunday June 19: 4 p.m., Friday June 24: 10 p.m., Saturday June 25: 9 p.m., Sunday June 26: 6:30 p.m. Admission is pay-what-you-can. Space is limited, so reserve your seat here.

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ReAnimator Coffee coming to Garden Court Plaza retail space

Posted on 17 June 2016

GardenCourtPlazaWe are starting to learn a little more about the retail that will be moving into the ground floor of the Garden Court Plaza apartment building at 47th and Pine. An official from Post Brothers, the real estate developer that acquired the building last year and announced their plans to court new retail businesses, said last night that ReAnimator Coffee, which has current locations in Fishtown and Kensington, has agreed to take one of the spots.

Post Brothers managing director Randy Hope told the Garden Court Community Association annual meeting that the firm is also “in conversation” with a “full-service restaurant.”

“One thing that I promise won’t be coming there is a 7-Eleven or something like that,” he said.

Hope did not say when ReAnimator Coffee might be moving in. We’ll keep you posted.

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40th Street Summer Series kicks off Saturday, June 18; Check out the schedule

Posted on 16 June 2016


Photo via

A popular local outdoor music event, 40th Street Summer Series, returns on Saturday, June 18, to the green area behind the Walnut Street West Library. The series, which is co-produced by University City District (UCD), Penn, and The Rotunda, will run monthly through Sept. 17. This summer, the series will feature free, family-friendly concerts and dance performances, plus juggling, face painting, fire dancing, and food and ice cream sampling.

Marc Ribot’s The Young Philadelphians will entertain the crowd this Saturday. They will be joined by Monica “Spirit” McIntyre, a gender non-conforming cellist, vocalist, lyricist, wellness advocate, sound healer, Reiki practitioner, mover and visual artist who promotes empowerment and healing by any medium necessary.

And here’s the concert schedule for the rest of the summer:

July 23: Dendê & Band w/ Openers PaPa Ed Stokes and Kunu Bi
Aug. 20: The Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change w/ Openers Modero Dance Company
Sept. 17: Rennie Harris RHAW w/ Openers Kalamandir Dance Company

The Summer Series begins at 5 p.m. with roaming performances and giveaways, with opening acts beginning at 6 p.m. Don’t forget to bring a blanket or chair.

More information about each performance is available on the UCD website.

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17-year-old stabbed on 4900 block of Walton (updated)

Posted on 14 June 2016

A 17-year-old boy was stabbed several times by an older man on Tuesday afternoon, at about 4:15 p.m., on the 4900 block of Walton Avenue, according to police. Police say the teen was stabbed three times in the chest, once in the ribs, and once in the leg. He was found on the sidewalk and was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where he was listed in critical condition.

When he was found the victim told police that he had been stabbed by an unknown male “after they exchanged looks.” Police couldn’t interview the teen at the hospital as he was going into surgery.

The suspect was described as a man with brown complexion in his 30’s, thin build, about 5 feet 8 inches, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.


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Learn about neighborhood development and change at Garden Court annual meeting this Thursday

Posted on 14 June 2016


Post Brothers recently purchased Garden Court Plaza at 47th and Pine.

Garden Court Community Association‘s annual meeting will take place on Thursday, June 16, at Mosaic Community Church (123 S. 51st St), and the topic will be development and change within the neighborhood, which stretches from Locust Street to Cedar Avenue and from 45th to 52nd Street. All neighbors are invited.

The meeting will discuss planned rental and retail development in Garden Court, improvements related to the Spruce Street and 52nd Street commercial districts. You can also learn about how Garden Court Community Association (GCCA) participates in the zoning and development process, and how you can get involved in shaping the neighborhood over time.

A panel of speakers will include developers and community and economic development professionals:  Continue Reading

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Gretchen Elise revisits the Cedar Park stage with her daughter

Posted on 14 June 2016

Cedar Park Neighbors presents free jazz on Fridays for the summer in Cedar Park - with Gretchen Elise and © Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.netFor more info: http://www.gretchenelise.comhttp://www.cedarparkneighbors.org

Gretchen Elise during her June 10, 2015 Cedar Park Jazz performance (Photo © Jacques-Jean Tiziou /

Gretchen Elise is a woman about town. You might recognize her from her performances at local community events or from her 9-to-5 as Director of Development at St. Mary’s Nursery School. You can catch her at the Cedar Park Jazz series on June 17 with her five piece band, with DM Hotep (David Middleton), the guitarist from Sun Ra Arkestra, along with The Authentic, Naeemah Maddox, Anam Owili-Egar, Brandon Kerakowski, Rick Martino and Luke Walker.


Gretchen performs during Make Music Philly Day at Arch St. Meeting House in June, 2014 (Photo by Ella Gahnt)

Growing up in Swarthmore, Gretchen has been playing music since she was a kid. She joined chorus, bell choir and took piano lessons. She wrote a song and sent it to her idol and former Olympic gymnast, Nadia Comaneci.

As a part of her creative process, Gretchen mentioned the need to integrate all aspects of her life, which makes the Cedar Park music series the perfect way to tie all aspects of her identity together.

Gretchen has worked on writing a song for the Cedar Park show with her 7-year-old daughter, who might even make a guest appearance.

“For me it makes sense to integrate my identity as an artist, as an educator, as a community member and as a mother,” she said. “I’m happiest when all of these things are integrated, which is why I think Cedar Park is the ultimate gig. It’s in my community, with my family, in a setting where there’s a park next door where my kids and other kids can play.”

Cedar Park Jazz Series is held every Friday through July 29, from 6 – 8 p.m. (weather permitting).

Rana Fayez

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