West Philly News Roundup: New name for VA hospital; 40th and Pine Mansion; Penn and taxes

Posted on 22 December 2014

Here are some news briefs from around West Philadelphia.

VA Hospital to be renamed


Photo via

The Philadelphia’s Veterans Administration Hospital (3900 Woodland Ave) will be renamed in memory of Michael J. Crescenz, a Philadelphian who served in the Vietnam War. He was 19 when he was killed in action. President Obama signed a bill, sponsored by Rep. Chaka Fattah and Sen. Pat Toomey, to rename the hospital last week.  Continue Reading

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Updated: Woman robbed at gunpoint near 45th and Pine Saturday; another woman robbed Sunday at 50th and Baltimore

Posted on 21 December 2014

UPDATE (10:15 p.m.): Unfortunately, we received another armed robbery report. A 24-year-old woman was robbed at knife point near 50th and Baltimore Sunday night, at around 8:30 p.m. The woman was walking home when an unknown man approached her from behind and demanded her purse. He was armed with a knife, according to police. He took the purse and ran away west on Baltimore Ave.

EARLIER: Police are searching for three armed men who robbed a 27-year-old woman at gunpoint Saturday night near 45th and Pine Streets. The robbery took place around 9:50 p.m. The men approached the woman, pushed her into a driveway, and pointed a handgun at her head, according to police.

The alleged robbers took the woman’s wallet and phone and ran off, according to police. She was not physically injured. The description of the suspects is not yet available.

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Public school breakfast, lunch menu (Dec. 22 & 23)

Posted on 21 December 2014

We continue publishing breakfast and lunch menus served at schools in the School District of Philadelphia. Schools will be closed from Dec. 24 through Jan. 2 for the holidays, so here’s the menu for Monday, Dec. 22 and Tuesday, Dec. 23. If your school uses a Satellite menu, click here.


A variety of three cereals will be offered daily and served with a yogurt parfait or a mini loaf.


Choose 1: Chicken Sausage, Egg & Cheese on English Muffin or Chewy Bar
Choose 1: Apple Juice or Fresh Fruit
Variety of Milk


Choose 1: Mini French Toast or Cinnamon Granola Round
Choose 1: Raisins or Fresh Fruit
Variety of Milk  Continue Reading

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Fire at The Westover Apartments, 47th and Pine (photos)

Posted on 20 December 2014

Reader David Brown sent us photos of yesterday’s fire at The Westover apartment building near 47th and Pine Streets. Read more about the fire here.



Fire47thPineDavidBrown2 Continue Reading

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Beer, coffee, tasty treats, local art, memberships, gift cards…: Buy Local for the holidays

Posted on 20 December 2014

shoplocallog-300x300Less than a week to go until Christmas and Hanukkah has already started. So where to go for those local holiday gifts? Don’t worry, we got you covered. Here are some options from our Buy Local for the Holidays Guide:

• Local arts and crafts

The University City Arts League‘s Annual Holiday Crafts Show and Sale supports the work of area artists and crafts people. The show runs through Sunday, Dec. 21 and features hand-made, one-of-a-kind creations by 30 local artists. Open Friday 3 – 8 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 12 – 6 p.m., 4226 Spruce St. Speaking of local artists, a great spot to find local gifts is VIX Emporium, where you can get everything from locally made West Philly t-shirts to handcrafted bags, jewelry and clothing.

• The gift of grub

CaferenatagiftcardsGift cards are always a safe bet. How about a festive brunch gift card? Check out Café Renata (4305 Locust St.). They have a bunch of new gift cards in stock and cookies and cakes for small holiday gatherings. Speaking of holiday get togethers, The Gold Standard Café (4800 Baltimore Ave.) is taking reservations for holiday festivities or just a great meal at 215-727-8247. Aksum Café (4630 Baltimore Ave.) is offering 15 percent off their unique Mediterranean fare for parties of 12 or more during the holidays. The offer is good on dinners Sunday through Thursday.

• Pets and pageturners

Don’t forget your pet (or pet owner) this holiday season. There’s a ton of ridiculously fun and useful stuff for dogs and cats down at Baltimore Pet Shoppe (4532 Baltimore Ave.) This is also a great place to go if the holiday stress has you down. Watch the cats up for adoption for a few minutes and you’ll be back to your old self. Another awesome way to unwind during the colder months is spend time with a great book, one of the all-time great gift ideas. Penn Book Center (130 S. 34th) is an independent locally owned and operated bookstore with great deals going on all kinds of books, from works by local authors and on local topics to cookbooks and everything in between. They currently have 2-for-1 deals and 20 percent off select gift books.

• Memberships

A fantastic way to support the local community is through memberships, which directly help support some of our favorite spots in West Philly. We highly recommend a membership to Bartram’s Garden, one of the true treasures of West Philadelphia. Another gift that keeps giving is a membership to Mariposa Food Co-op, which not only gets you discounts on fresh organic food and other items, but gives you a chance to have a say in how this vital community asset is operated.

Beer, coffee and tasty treats

beerThe holiday season is a time for food and drink. So if you are looking for anything from quality craft beer, to a delectable bag of coffee or a fine cheese, here are some suggestions. Local 44’s Bottle Shop (4333 Spruce St.) has one of the best bottle beer selections in the city. Great ideas for parties or stock stuffers. One of the most cosy coffee shops in West Philly, The Coffee Market (405 S. 45th) is a good spot to warm up during the winter and they also have a ton of different organic and fair trade roasts for sale by the bag. Gift cards are also available. Also, Milk and Honey Market (4435 Baltimore Ave.) is an all-around holiday haven, with loads of gift ideas for home brewers, hosts and hostesses and even kids. Want a little taste of summer during the holiday season? A gift card from Lil’ Pop Shop (265 S. 44th) might do the trick. The shop is open this winter and, in addition to the crazy good popsicles, is offering a selection of fresh-baked cookies and super-good hot chocolate.

Lastly, local merchants who make up the Baltimore Avenue Business Association would like to thank you for buying local and keeping your hard-earned money in the community. Happy Holidays everyone!

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Fire at The Westover apartments, 47th and Pine (updated)

Posted on 19 December 2014


UPDATE (12/20/2014): is reporting that a firefighter responding to Friday’s fire at 4730 Pine St sustained burns and required medical treatment. No injuries were reported among the building’s residents. The fire reportedly started in a first floor apartment of the four-story building and spread to the second floor. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

(10:55 p.m.): A GoFundMe page has been set up to help a couple displaced by the fire. Kristie and Mark’s apartment was destroyed and they lost all of their belongings in the fire, according to information posted on the page. They are currently staying with family.

If you know of any other people displaced by the fire please let us know (

The Red Paw Relief Team again did a great job providing emergency assistance to pets:

(1:10 p.m.): Several residents have been evacuated. The streets in the two-block radius around the fire are closed.

(12:59 p.m.): Fire crews are at the scene and the fire has been taken under control. The fire began on the second floor in an apartment facing Pine Street.

West Philly Local readers are reporting that a fire broke out at The Westover apartment building at 4730 Pine St (across from the Garden Court Eatery), shortly after 12 p.m.. We’re trying to get more information. Stay tuned. Twitter Photo by @AtomicChristine:


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Tenuous community consensus reached on preserving Wiota Street Garden

Posted on 19 December 2014

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The Wiota Street Garden (from Google Street View).

Those in attendance at last night’s public meeting on the future of the Wiota Street Garden in West Powelton tenuously agreed to block attempts to build housing on the parcel.

Some 60 people turned out for a meeting of the West Powelton Concerned Community Council, which, though divisive at times, led Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell to promise to stop developers’ attempts to buy the land and construct housing. She also urged community members to devise a plan that would make the garden a community space with a defined and transparent management structure.

The City of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, which owns the parcel at 46 Wiota St. (near 40th and Powelton), has deferred any decision to sell the property to Blackwell, who attended the meeting to gauge public opinion. Her agreement to help protect the garden came with the stipulation that it be managed in a way that invites the entire community.  Continue Reading

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Hang a Jawnament on your Christmas tree (made in West Philly!) (Update: Sold out!)

Posted on 18 December 2014


UPDATE (12/19/2014, 1:50 p.m.): Jawnaments and other items described below have been sold out!

“Sorry, but we ran out of supplies! Thanks for all of the support and please check back in after the holidays for new products!” reads a message on the Workshop Industries Holiday Order Form.

(12/18/2014): Here’s a chance to do the holidays Philly style and help a local after-school program. Students enrolled in the Workshop Industries after school program at the Workshop School, an innovative, project-based high school in West Philly, made some amazing Christmas tree ornaments and Jawnaments (it is worth giving these as gifts just for a chance to explain “jawn” to an out-of-town relative). They are available for order and pick up at their location at 221 S. Hanson St (near 48th and Locust). You can also purchase a beautiful handmade Christmas House (with or without light) and even all-natural lip balm ($2), available in three flavors: coconut, clementine, and chocolate mint.

By the way, all the ornaments are $5, but this Jawnament below is $3:


To see all the items available for sale click here. For more information on how to order, go to this page. Orders can be picked up on Monday (Dec. 22) from 3:30 to 6 p.m., or you can choose your order to be delivered to you.

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Affordable housing plan at 46th and Spruce back in front of Spruce Hill zoning committee

Posted on 18 December 2014


With the expanded footprint of the new building, the area between nearby buildings has come into question, including the area bordering the Kingsbury apartment building (seen on the right in this image).

The developers of a proposed affordable housing building at 46th and Spruce presented more detailed plans for the four-story, 24-unit structure, which will replace the one-story building damaged by fire in 2011, to the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee on Wednesday night.

The Mission First Housing Group‘s building would include 24 one- and two-bedroom rental apartments aimed at people with a household income of $36,000 a year or less and is contingent on state funding. Mission First hopes to improve its chances for funding by going through the zoning process, which will require variances for building height, erecting a multi-family structure and not providing parking.

Their proposal got some pushback from neighbors concerned about the building’s height, which will be 10 feet higher than current restrictions, and its distance from nearby buildings. Tentative plans call for the new building to be pushed back from the Spruce Street sidewalk (the current building comes right up to the property line) to be more in line with other buildings on Spruce. That means the building has to go higher to accommodate the number of units needed for the project to be feasible.

The owner of the building in the rear of the project also wants a little more setback from his apartment building, the Kingsbury. Negotiations have been ongoing between the Kingsbury’s owner and Mission First to come up with a compromise that may push the building a little further toward Spruce Street.

Plans include indoor bike storage and trash receptacles and a compactor that would be stored inside. No parking is proposed, but Mission First representative Mark Deitcher said that few residents in similar housing complexes that the organization operates around the city own cars.

The building would be aimed at attracting low-income single residents, particularly veterans. Last night’s meeting was scheduled to get an update and no decisions were made. A full hearing on the project will be conducted after the plan is submitted to the city.

Mike Lyons

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Big Band Gospel Christmas Concert this Sunday at Calvary

Posted on 18 December 2014

If you like gospel music you should definitely enjoy this holiday concert: On Sunday, Dec. 21, a 16-piece big band “Big Push”, led by Greg Scott, and Calvary United Methodist, St. Luke, and Greater Exodus Baptist Church choirs will give a joint performance at Calvary Church (48th and Baltimore). The concert, which starts at 7 p.m., benefits West Africa food relief (suggested donation is $10).


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Green Line Cafe to take over Lovers and Madmen Coffee at 40th and Ludlow

Posted on 17 December 2014


Lovers and Madmen Coffee at 28 S. 40th St.  (Facebook photo).

The Green Line Cafe announced today that it will soon be taking over Lovers and Madmen Coffee at the corner of 40th and Ludlow. The new shop is expected to be fully operational by January 15, 2015, according to an announcement on Green Line’s website.

Green Line will be rebranding the shop, which will offer a mix of fair trade coffee and teas along with their signature foods. “…We hope to continue the vision of a welcoming neighborhood coffee shop that Lover’s and Madmen established so nicely,” the announcement reads.

Lovers and Madmen Coffee has been in operation since early 2009 and was popular with students due to its proximity to Penn’s campus.

This will be Green Line’s fourth location in West Philadelphia, adding to the shops at 43rd and Baltimore, 45th and Locust, and 38th and Lancaster.

Green Line also announced today that they are closing their only Center City location at 15th and Moravian due to new plans for the building, which recently was sold. Currently, Green Line owners, Douglas Witmer and Daniel Thut, are exploring a potential new location in Center City.

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Community garden or housing? Meeting Thursday on the fate of the Wiota Street Garden

Posted on 17 December 2014

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A sign erected this fall at the Wiota Street Garden aimed at Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell underscores the campaign to preserve the garden, which developers are eyeing.

A meeting will be held Thursday to discuss the controversial proposal to build housing on the site of the Wiota Street Garden, a neighborhood fixture for 30 years that highlights the tenuous existence of the hundreds of community gardens in the city.

The Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia, the city agency tasked with connecting private investors to developable plots, owns the 1,100-square-foot parcel in the West Powelton neighborhood. The plot, which is zoned for residential development, has been an active community garden, hosting a weekly farmers’ market and providing produce to local residents and food banks. But the proposed construction of a 12-unit residential structure would spell the end of the garden.

Construction is underway on a number of similar housing units, many aimed at students, in the immediate vicinity around the community garden. Supporters of the garden have been pushing to have the plot protected as part of the Neighborhood Gardens Trust.

That’s what Thursday’s meeting is all about. The ultimate arbiter of the parcel’s fate, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, will be at the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at 4001 Baring St. The Redevelopment Authority has reportedly deferred any decision to Blackwell.

Using the Wiota Street Garden as her main example, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Inga Saffron distills the “gardens or housing” dilemma facing many developing neighborhoods here.

Mike Lyons

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Jolly Trolley spotted!

Posted on 16 December 2014


A reader spotted this decorated “Jolly Trolley” recently. Read more about SEPTA’s jolly trolleys here.

Instagram photo by Benjamin White.


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Learn about new development projects at Spruce Hill Zoning meeting on Wednesday

Posted on 16 December 2014


Former Transition to Independent Living facility at 46th and Spruce.

Community members are invited to discuss new development projects in the Spruce Hill Neighborhood area at an upcoming Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee meeting this Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Two development projects are at the focus of Wednesday’s meeting:

1) A proposed six unit development at 100-02 Ludlow Street. The project was discussed at an earlier zoning committee meeting and the committee asked for some additional specifics. The property owners are following the procedure for RCO (recognized community organizations) notification.

2) The proposed development to replace the former Transition to Independent Living facility at 4536 Spruce St. This will be a second meeting with the developers to examine updated drawings and plans. The attendees will also hear a report from discussions between the developers and the owner of the adjacent property on 46th Street, according to zoning committee chair Barry Grossbach.

The Mission First Housing Group proposed a four-story affordable housing building at the southeast corner of 46th and Spruce, where the former Transition to Independent Living Center building is located (pictured). The building was damaged in a fire in 2011 and since then has been shuttered and slowly deteriorating.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. at the Spruce Hill Center (257 S. 45th St).

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Man whose body was found in Cedar Park in November identified; family raising funds for funeral costs

Posted on 16 December 2014

UPDATE: A neighbor has notified us to say that Adon Everett’s family is having trouble getting an insurance company to honor his policy. A former EMT, he recently moved to the neighborhood to be close to family members, according to a GoFundMe page that was set up to raise money for funeral costs. More details on Mr. Everett’s background are there.

Earlier: Police have identified the man whose body was found two weeks ago on the sidewalk along the 5100 block of Webster Street. His name is Adon Everett. He was 55 and was from the 5200 block of Chancellor Street.

It was determined that the cause of death was stabbing, according to police. No arrests have been made so far.

Mr. Everett’s body was found in the early morning of November 30 with a wound to his neck, which was initially thought to be a gunshot.


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Help needed at annual Holiday Basket Giveaway event in Cedar Park

Posted on 15 December 2014

holidaymeal-1024x413Over the past few weeks Cedar Park residents have been donating money for holiday food baskets for their neighbors in need. Now it’s time to give away those baskets put together by volunteers at Cedar Park Neighbors (CPN). The annual CPN Holiday basket packing and distributing event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 20 at the Renewal Presbyterian Church (47th and Cedar), from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., and more volunteer help is needed to make this event a success.

Also, volunteers who are comfortable lifting heavy items are sought to help with unloading poultry at 8:00 a.m. (meet at the church). If you have some free time this Saturday and would like to help out at the event please contact Michelle Smith-Lewis at: mlewis1071[at]

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University of the Sciences to reach out to local community through quarterly meetings (updated)

Posted on 15 December 2014

UPDATE (12/16/2014): Here’s the agenda for tonight’s meeting:

Support of K-12 education
Ongoing Engagement activities
Campus Master Planning
Call for university – community collaboration ideas

(12/15/2014): University of the Sciences (USciences) is reaching out to the local community by hosting a regular public meeting every three months. In a message circulated via email, USciences president Dr. Helen Giles-Gee writes that “as a member of our community, University of the Sciences recognizes that it’s important that we communicate with each other and share information.”

At the quarterly meetings, university leadership will provide updates on new and ongoing projects and “will seek your feedback on ways in which we may work together for the betterment of our community.”

The first community meeting will take place this Tuesday (Dec. 16) at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the McNeil Science and Technology Center (43rd and Woodland, see map here). Light refreshments will also be served.

It’s not clear whether the meeting will include information and discussion of the university’s recent purchase of the former Wilson Elementary School building at 46th and Woodland, which it plans to convert into student housing (read more here).

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Public school breakfast, lunch menu (Dec. 15-19)

Posted on 14 December 2014

We continue publishing breakfast and lunch menus served at schools in the School District of Philadelphia. Here’s the menu for Monday, Dec. 15 through Friday, Dec. 19. If your school uses a Satellite menu, click here.


A variety of three cereals will be offered daily and served with a yogurt parfait or a mini loaf.


Choose 1: Mini Waffles or Bake Crafter Cereal Bar & Yogurt
Choose 1: Pineapple Juice or Fresh Pear
Variety of Milk


Choose 1: Steak, Egg & Cheese on a Bagel or Benefit Bar
Choose 1: Strawberry Cup or Fresh Apple
Variety of Milk


Choose 1: French Toast Sticks w/Syrup & Sausage link (1) or Homestyle Breads
Choose 1: Grape Juice or Fresh Banana
Variety of Milk  Continue Reading

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Weekend Events Roundup (Dec. 13-14) (updated)

Posted on 12 December 2014

There will be a bunch of festive events this Saturday and Sunday, including some great local holiday shopping opportunities and Christmas caroling at Clark Park. Plus Santa will make a stop at a local bar, so bring your camera! For more upcoming events, visit our Events Calendar.

Go West! Holiday Craft Fest at The Rotunda (40th and Walnut)


Over 50 local craftspeople will present their work at this year’s holiday edition of the popular Go West! Craft Fest. The event will be held on Sunday, Dec. 14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Rotunda (40th and Walnut). Stop by to check out beautiful handmade items like jewelry, ceramics, warm knitted accessories, prints, stationery, soap, candles, home accents, children’s items, and more (here is the full list of the vendors). If the weather is clear, vendors will be indoors and out. There will also be sweet treats by West Philly’s Weckerly’s Ice Cream and the Lil’ Pop Shop.

UPDATE: The fest organizers sent a note that Walnut street will be closed to traffic on Sunday due to construction work across the street from The Rotunda. The street will be open to pedestrians, but no cars will be allowed on Walnut between 40th and 41st streets between 6:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

40th Street AIR Holiday Art Sale (4007 Chestnut St)

40thStAIRsaleWork by West Philly artists in the 2014-2015 40th Street Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program – Althea Baird, TenBroeck Cripps, Brujo de La Mancha, Aislinn Pentecost-Farren and Lorna Williams - will be featured at this weekend’s 40th Street AIR Holiday Sale. The sale will take place on Saturday and Sunday, from 12 – 6 p.m. at the AIRSPACE Gallery at 4007 Chestnut Street (1st floor). Many guest artists will also take part in the event, including AIR alumni.  Continue Reading

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