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Mid-morning mugging near 49th and Windsor (Update: Suspect caught)

Posted on 29 October 2014

UPDATE (10/29/14, 1:30 p.m.): The robbery suspect is in custody, according to police. He was caught thanks to a 911 call from a person who saw the stillshot from the video posted by police, showing a young man wearing a red and blue jacket.

(Tuesday, 10/28/14): A woman was mugged this morning on Windsor Ave between 48th and 49th Streets, according to various reports. The incident took place shortly before 10 a.m. An unknown man ran up behind the woman and knocked her down, according to a neighbor report. He was unarmed, according to police. The man, who was wearing a blue windbreaker with a red stripe on the hood, got away with a small amount of cash.

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Local 44 owners present plans for ‘Clarkville’ to zoning committee

Posted on 28 October 2014

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A giant dumpster is already in front of the former Best House Pizza. A zoning hearing for 4301 Baltimore Ave is scheduled for Nov. 19. (Photos by West Philly Local)

Tentative plans for a new restaurant and bar at 4301 Baltimore Ave. – formerly Best House Pizza – include a stripped down facade, craft beer on tap, second floor dining and, possibly, pizza by the slice.

The owners of Local 44 introduced their plans to open the establishment, tentatively named “Clarkville,” to the Spruce Hill Community Association planning committee and a roomful of nearby neighbors last night.

Plans call for the removal of the awning and the installation of floor-to-ceiling windows on the restaurant’s first floor, which will also include a bar that serves only tap beer, wine and high-end spirits. In other words, no Jägermeister shots.  Continue Reading

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Scribe Video Center, local KEYSPOT to host open houses this Tuesday

Posted on 27 October 2014

Two great local community resources, Scribe Video Center and KEYSPOT, are hosting open houses on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

KEYSPOT_logoKEYSPOTa project by the Freedom Rings Partnership that has over 70 centers with computer labs, free internet access and training throughout Philadelphia, has recently opened a new location in West Philly – at Drexel University’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. This Tuesday, community members are invited for an evening of mingling and refreshments at an open house at this location. There will be opportunities to:

Learn about free computer access, education, and job preparation resources
• Participate in a Q&A session with KEYSPOT staff and clients
• Enter a raffle to win a netbook computer
• Discover how these KEYSPOTs are helping put Philadelphia’s job-seekers to work

The open house will be held from 4 to 7 p.m.. Dornsife Center is located at 3509 Spring Garden Street. The event is free and open to the public.

scribelogoScribe Video Center (4212 Chestnut St) will host an open house on Tuesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.. It’s a great networking opportunity for emerging and experienced video makers. You can also learn about membership, workshops and programs at the center, tour the facilities, and check out the equipment! Light refreshments will be served.

Founded in 1982, Scribe Video Center provides training in all aspects of film, video and audio production by offering classes and workshops. It also hosts a wide variety of programs and event series, including Community Visions, the Producers’ Forum, Muslim Voices of Philadelphia, Street Movies!, and more.

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U. of Sciences buys Alexander Wilson School building for student housing

Posted on 27 October 2014

AlexanderWilsonSchoolThe University of the Sciences (USP) has acquired the former Alexander Wilson School at 46th and Woodland and plans to turn it into student housing.

USP paid a reported $2 million for the 1.03-acre parcel that borders its campus and includes the three story school building, which the School District of Philadelphia closed along with nearly two dozen other public schools in 2013. The purchase, which was approved at the October 16 School Reform Commission meeting, follows a long bid process that included interest from West Philly based developers Oren Brothers.

The university will turn the site into student housing and student-focused retail, according to Helen Giles-Gee, USP’s president.

“The location of the Wilson School adjacent to the [USP] campus is a strategic one for our university and one that we hope will provide both student housing and retail that makes sense for the community and for us,” Giles-Gee said in a statement. “Though we understand that no community wants to lose its neighborhood school, we hope to work closely with area residents as we develop our plans for the site.”

Early last spring Oren Brothers seemed to have locked up the purchase of the Wilson building for $4.6 million, but the District later asked for clarification of the bids and USP emerged as the front runner.

The Wilson sale follows the sale of the old West Philadelphia High School (47th and Walnut), which will be converted to residential units.

In September, the SRC lowered the sale price of the old West Philly High by $900,000 to $5.1 million to compensate for “design inefficiencies” in the building, which was constructed in 1912. The developer, WPHS Venture Partners, told the SRC that it had to lower the number of units it could build from 300 to about 250, prompting a request to the SRC for a price reduction.

We will keep you updated on the development of these two buildings as they go through the zoning and public comment phases.

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West, Southwest Philly blocks win this year’s Clean Block Contest

Posted on 27 October 2014

Some great news was announced over the weekend: Two city blocks west of the Schuylkill and their captains were selected as the winners of the 2014 Clean Block Contest organized by the Streets Department’s Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PBMC). The 700 block of Markoe Street (Block Captain Ms. Audrey Darien) and the 6000 block of Trinity Street (Block Captain Ms. Marsha Wall) each won 1st place in the competition and will receive $1,000.

Some 22 blocks participated in this year’s contest and were judged for efforts of block residents, their cleanliness, beautification efforts, and property improvements.

The winners were announced on Saturday evening at the Annual Clean Block Awards Banquet. The top four winners will be awarded $300 for 4th place, $500 for 3rd place, $700 for 2nd place, with the top prize being $1,000. The remaining blocks each receive $150. The prize money is to be used for future block cleaning and beatification projects.

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Public school breakfast, lunch menu (Oct 27-31)

Posted on 26 October 2014

We continue publishing breakfast and lunch menus served at schools in the School District of Philadelphia. Here’s the menu for Monday, Oct 27 through Friday, Oct 31. If your school uses a Satellite menu, click here. Come back every Sunday evening for the coming week’s menu.

BREAKFAST (K-12)

A variety of three cereals will be offered daily and served with a yogurt parfait or a bake-crafter bar.

Monday

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

Tuesday

Breakfast Burrito
Cinni Mini Swirls
Choose 1: Peach Cup or Fresh Apple
Variety of Milk  Continue Reading

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Busy weekend: Veterans benefit, comics festival, Halloween hijinks at the Woodlands and more

Posted on 24 October 2014

Saturday, Oct 25

LocustMoonComicsFestLocust Moon Comics Festival

If comics is your thing (or might be your thing or was your thing or is your partner’s thing) get yourself over to The Rotunda on Saturday for the third annual Locust Moon Comics Festival. This thing will include some fine independent cartoonists and creators, including: Paul Pope (Battling Boy), Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin), Dean Haspiel (The Alcoholic), Mark Schultz (Xenozoic Tales), Denis Kitchen (The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen) and Farel Dalrymple (The Wrenchies), as well as local stars like Box Brown (Andre the Giant: Life and Legend), Dave Bullock (Justice League: The New Frontier), and J.G. Jones (Wanted).

The festival will include workshops, panels and discussion on the art, history and business of comics.

Several artists will debut new work at the festival, including the Locust Moon work Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream – a kickstarter funded Winsor McKay Tribute.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Entrance is by optional donation. No advanced tickets are needed. Kids 13 and under are admitted free. Here is a schedule.  Continue Reading

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West Philly restaurant news: 48th Street Grille opens; Preview party for Amari’s at 50th and Baltimore

Posted on 24 October 2014

Apart from the proposal for a restaurant/bar with second floor dining at 4301 Baltimore, we’re happy to report on two more new restaurants opening in the area.

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Photo from 48th Street Grille’s Facebook page.

After much anticipation and a few delays, 48th Street Grille, a full-service restaurant and catering business offering “fresh, modern Caribbean-American cuisine” has opened at 310 S 48th St (between Spruce and Pine). The first day of soft opening for the restaurant, which occupies a portion of the retail space at the Center for Culinary Enterprises, was last Friday.

Executive chef/owner Carl Lewis Sr. prepares some delicious food, according to neighbors who already visited the restaurant. In addition to the restaurant’s standard menu, it will offer daily and weekly specials, “highlighting the chef’s talents with seasonal produce, meats, and fish,” according to its Facebook page. While the food is great and the staff are super friendly, the service needs fine-tuning, according to neighbor reviews. But it’s understandable since the restaurant has just opened. Also something to keep in mind for those who like a glass of wine/beer with their dinner: the restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol and currently doesn’t have a BYOB option. We’ll let you know if this changes.  Continue Reading

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Proposed Local 44-related bar/restaurant at 43rd and Baltimore to get zoning look Monday

Posted on 24 October 2014

Spruce Hill residents have a chance to learn more about proposals for new apartment buildings, business applications and other development in their neighborhood on Monday, Oct. 27 during a Spruce Hill zoning meeting. The meeting, which will take place at the Spruce Hill Center at 257 S. 45th Street, is organized by the Spruce Hill Community Association and is open to all interested neighbors and residents.

BestHousePizzaIncluded on the agenda is the replacement for the Best House Pizza at 4301 Baltimore Ave., which is proposed to include upstairs dining. As we reported earlier this month, the Best House Pizza closed its doors at 43rd and Baltimore after eight years of operation and Local 44 owners were in the process of signing the lease with plans to open a new establishment in that location in Spring 2015. A source from the Spruce Hill Community Association said earlier that the organization was waiting to see if the new owners would request any zoning variances, which would trigger a public hearing on the project. As the process is obviously underway, stay tuned for more updates.

Here are other items on the agenda. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.:

 Legalization of a boarding house status at 4011 Baltimore Avenue
 Application for multi-family dwelling at 217 S. 42nd Street
 Construction of an apartment dwelling at 4100-02 Ludlow Street

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WPL’s 2014 Pumpkin Carving Contest underway; Check out the sponsors (updated)

Posted on 23 October 2014

Many thanks to all who already submitted photos of their carved creations for West Philly Local‘s 2014 Pumpkin Carving Contest. Here’s a reminder that we’re accepting contest entries until 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31. After that there will be Readers’ Choice voting and all the winners will be announced on November 3. Please read more information on how to enter the contest here.

We would like to thank this year’s sponsors, all local businesses and organizations, who are providing prizes: Cafe Renata, Curio Theatre, Honest Tom’s Taco Shop, International House Philadelphia, Lil’ Pop Shop, Mariposa Food Co-op, Penn Museum, NEW! Rx The FarmacySabrina’s Cafe, and VIX Emporium.

NOTE: Some readers put photos of their jack-o’-lanterns on Instagram and linked them to our site (hashtag #westphillylocal). Please make sure to also email them to: contest@westphillylocal.com with your name, address and age (if you’re entering the Kids’ category). Thank you! We’re looking forward to more submissions.

Pumpkin Contest 2014 copy

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45th Street news: House demolished for apartments; new face, name for Watusi II

Posted on 23 October 2014

45thStreet

245 S. 45th Street earlier this week. (Photos by West Philly Local)

We’re catching up on the news of an old house being demolished on 45th Street between Spruce and Locust. Naked Philly reported last week that demolition work had begun on an old home in Spruce Hill at 245 S. 45th St. Well, the building, which is a 3780 sq. foot condo home built in 1935, was demolished earlier this week to make way for an eight-unit apartment building, according to the licence. The building was sold in June for $275,000 to Dvora Properties.

The property has been vacant for years. It was in deteriorating condition and had multiple code violations. It’s zoned RM1, which allows construction of multi-unit housing.

Dvora Properties is reportedly associated with Glasberg Properties, a developer who’s linked to student housing near Temple University, which “looks like the standard no-frills new construction you see around town,” according to Naked Philly.

NewTavernBy the way, speaking of the 200 block of 45th Street, some of you may have noticed that the Watusi II was undergoing some renovation. The restaurant has a new owner – Ethiopian American Temsgen Wolegzi. He purchased the property in July and reportedly has plans for a more formal restaurant to go along with the bar. Wolegzi presented plans for the restaurant, which has been renamed New Tavern (pictured left), to neighbors and the Spruce Hill Community Association over the summer, even presenting a proposed menu.

The city shut down the bar, which then was under different ownership, for several weeks last fall for failure to pay back taxes.

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Owners of 4224 Baltimore will take their chances with zoning board

Posted on 22 October 2014

4224proposedbuildingThe firm overseeing development of a prime piece of real estate at 4224 Baltimore Ave. – across from Clark Park – has announced that it will take its chances with the zoning process and will go ahead with plans to build a 132-unit residential complex.

“[U3 Advisors] will comply with every regulation of the zoning variance process and we look forward to meeting with area RCOs, community groups and interested neighbors,” said Tom Lussenhop, the firm’s senior vice president.

Lussenhop said the firm will file an application with the Zoning Board of Adjustment soon.

There was some doubt that the firm would go ahead with its plans after news surfaced that appeals to City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell for an ordinance that would allow them to sidestep the sometimes tumultuous zoning process were rejected. The parcel’s owner, Clarkmore LLC, already has permission to build a small residential building that would have no commercial amenities and very limited parking. But the plans for the 132-unit building, which grew out of a series of community meetings, include underground parking and commercial space. That plan requires zoning changes for the parcel.

A series of public hearings will be scheduled once the zoning change request is filed, including a community meeting with the Spruce Hill Community Association planning committee.

“Spruce Hill will follow its traditional process of dealing with this zoning application once a filing has been processed,” said the planning committee’s head Barry Grossbach.

(See all our posts on 4224 Baltimore here).

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Work on new police headquarters begins at 46th and Market

Posted on 21 October 2014

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Work on the new police headquarters at 46th and Market has officially begun, with a groundbreaking ceremony taking place on Monday.

The 87-year-old Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building, will undergo renovation and will host the Philadelphia Police Department headquarters, which will move from their current Center City location at 8th and Race. The building will also be home to the medical examiner’s office, morgue and the Department of Health public laboratories.

“[It] will be known as the Philadelphia Public Safety Services campus,” mayor Michael Nutter said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The building renovation will cost about $250 million. Two bills were introduced earlier this year by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell that allowed the city to borrow this sum. The building is expected to open in 2018.

The Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building was included in the endangered properties list by the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia in 2010. After Provident left the building in 1983 it was occupied by various non-profits for many years, but has been vacant for the past six years.

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18-year-old arrested after home invasions on S. 47th, S. 48th Streets

Posted on 21 October 2014

Police arrested an 18-year-old man early this morning following two confrontational home invasions on the 400 block of S. 47th St. and the 500 block of S. 48th.

Police say a woman awoke at a home on the 400 block of S. 47th at about 3 a.m. after she heard someone walking in the hallway. She told police that a young male, who broke in through the front door, entered her bedroom and demanded money. The man fled the home with the victim’s iPhone. She was able to track the phone to an area near 48th and Larchwood using a phone tracking app, according to a police report.

About 20 minutes later a man on the 500 block of S. 48th Street awoke to a young man slapping him in the face, demanding money and threatening to shoot him. The victim and suspect went down to the first floor of the home where the victim took out his phone and attempted to call police, according to the police report. The suspect grabbed his phone and broke it. The victim then grabbed his work phone and tried to call, but the suspect broke that phone as well. The victim gave the suspect cash and the suspect ordered him to return to the second floor. When the victim refused the suspect began swinging a ladder at him before fleeing the home. The victim sustained minor injuries in this confrontation, police said.

Police apprehended the man near the home. They said that no weapon was found when the suspect was caught.

Police have not released the name of the young man, who lives on the 4800 block of Walton St. They say he may be involved in a recent string of armed robberies in the area as well.

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A string of robberies with sawed-off gun in Cedar Park area over the weekend

Posted on 20 October 2014

crimePolice have issued a crime alert in the Cedar Park area following a string of robberies and attempted robberies over the weekend. In all three cases reported below, a sawed off shotgun or imitation of a gun was used.

The first incident happened on the 800 block of S. 48th Street, around 11:20 p.m. on Saturday, when a 28-year-old man was approached on the street by a young male, who pointed a sawed off shotgun at the victim and demanded money. The victim told police that he did not believe the gun was real and started screaming, according to a police report. The attacker didn’t take anything and fled on foot toward Baltimore Avenue.

The other two incidents took place on Sunday. A 26-year-old man was robbed and pistol-whipped near 47th and Hazel around 8:15 p.m. by two males, one of whom pressed a sawed off firearm into the victim’s chest, according to police. The males took the victim’s iPhone and wallet. The man was also hit in the head with the firearm after he said he didn’t have anything else and sustained a cut to his ear.  Continue Reading

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New artist residency program on Lancaster Ave looking for artists

Posted on 20 October 2014

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Neighborhood Time Exchange focuses on the area around Lancaster Ave. (Map image via www.neighborhoodtime.exchange)

Here’s a new program in West Philly that supports emerging artists! Neighborhood Time Exchange: West Philadelphia Artist Residency was recently launched at 4017 Lancaster Avenue thanks to collaboration of three organizations – Broken City Lab, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and the People’s Emergency Center. The program will provide studio space to up to 12 artists (six of the spots are reserved for local artists) where they can work on their personal projects. In exchange, the resident artists are expected to give back to the community: for every hour they spend working in the studio they are expected to spend an hour on community-centered work and service. The goal of the program, according to its organizers, is to lay the ground for civic and economic renewal of the area, to be a platform for social change.

If you’re an emerging artist in Philadelphia and need help spearheading your career and if you’re interested in this program, read on.

Currently, Neighborhood Time Exchange is seeking artists for their inaugural round of residencies, which begins in January 2015. Artists residing in the neighborhoods around Lancaster Avenue, such as Mantua, Belmont, West Powelton, Saunders Park and Mill Creek, are encouraged to apply. Application deadline is Friday, Oct. 24. To download an application form and for more information, visit the Neighborhood Time Exchange website. If you have questions, email: info@neighborhoodtime.exchange

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Public school breakfast, lunch menu (Oct 20-24)

Posted on 19 October 2014

We continue publishing breakfast and lunch menus served at schools in the School District of Philadelphia. Here’s the menu for Monday, Oct 20 through Friday, Oct 24. If your school uses a Satellite menu, click here. Come back every Sunday evening for the coming week’s menu.

BREAKFAST (K-12)

A variety of three cereals will be offered daily and served with a yogurt parfait or a bake-crafter bar.

Monday

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

Tuesday

Steak, Egg & Cheese on a Bagel
Benefit Bar
Choose 1: Mixed Fruit Cup or Fresh Orange
Variety of Milk Continue Reading

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Still; like a gargoyle

Posted on 18 October 2014

We found this plump little one guarding a porch on the 4500 block of Osage on Saturday.

We found this plump little one guarding a porch on the 4500 block of Osage on Saturday (Photo by West Philly Local).

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Books Through Bars hosting workshop, speakers, fundraiser on incarceration issues

Posted on 17 October 2014

Books-Through-Bars-LogoAn important discussion about incarceration has gained traction nationally in recent years and an important facilitator in that discussion locally is the organization Books Though Bars.

The group’s primary mission is to obtain, pack and ship books to inmates in the region, a volunteer-heavy activity they have been doing in West Philly for more than 20 years. There is a chance this Saturday to be part of this ongoing conversation, meet people from Books Through Bars and other organizations engaged in incarceration issues and raise a little money to keep their work going.

Books Through Bars is hosting a fundraiser tomorrow (Oct 18) at the LAVA Space at 4134 Lancaster Ave, beginning at 2 p.m. The event will feature free workshops and speakers (2 to 6 p.m.) from the following organizations: Decarcerate PA, Hearts on a Wire, The Center for Returning Citizens, HRC, Books Through Bars Address This!, and DreamActivist PA. After that there will be a rockers show (6-10 p.m.) hosted by MMGZ.

Please bring $5-8 to donate at the event. Also, Books Through Bars’ Business, Science and Math shelves are pretty empty right now, so if you have any books that you don’t need please bring them to tomorrow’s event or to the A-Space where the organization is located (4722 Baltimore Ave).

For more information, check out the Books Through Bars Facebook page.

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