Café Renata relocating to former Subway restaurant space at 46th and Baltimore

Posted on 04 May 2015


Café Renata owners Kate Steenstra and Yasser Aiq (archived photo).

Great news for Café Renata regulars and everyone who appreciates good coffee, enjoys food with Mediterranean flavors and supports local businesses: Nearly two months after the devastating fire that shut down the popular café’s storefront at 43rd and Locust, owners Kate Steenstra and Yasser Aiq are sharing the news that they are reopening their business at a new location – the former Subway restaurant space at 4533 Baltimore Avenue. Last month we reported that the space that had been vacant since December was available for rent.

The new lease was already signed, and Katie and Yasser’s plans are under way at full speed to get up and running again. They have started moving their equipment to the new location and upgrading the space.


Morning after fire at Café Renata at 43rd and Locust.

It wasn’t an easy decision for Renata owners to give up Locust St that worked great for them. However, after considering the pre-existing structural issues with the building that were exposed by the fire, the amount of time they had left on their lease and the timeline projections on rebuilding that space that their previous landlord gave to them, they decided that the best option for them and their customers was to give Renata a new long term home.

After the fire a lot of support poured in for Renata owners from the community members and local businesses. A fundraiser for Renata took place in March at The Bar(n) on Baltimore.

“The easy part for us was deciding that there was no way we were going to quit all together. And that 100% came from all the support and encouragement that our customers and neighbors showed us after the fire. We couldn’t have asked to be in a better neighborhood. We’d like to thank everyone for all their continued support, it means so much to us to be a part of this great community!” Katie wrote in an e-mail.

We’ll keep you posted on an opening date, which is expected this summer.


Café Renata is relocating to the former Subway restaurant space at 4533 Baltimore Avenue.

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A safer intersection at Baltimore and Springfield

Posted on 04 May 2015


Updated intersection at Baltimore and Springfield.

The corner of Baltimore and Springfield avenues has long been a notorious corner, with pedestrians heading to and from Clark Park, cyclists, motorists and trolleys all converging at one oddly configured intersection. Hopefully some work recently completed by the City of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and the Streets Department that includes a buffered bike lane and some redirection of vehicle traffic will make the intersection safer.

Several accidents have occurred at the intersection in recent years and residents have long asked for steps to be taken. The changes include flexible plastic poles that provide a wide protected area for pedestrians, allowing them to cross the intersection much more quickly.


Intersection at Baltimore and Springfield (archived photo).

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Walnut Hill neighborhood plan update meeting on Monday, May 4

Posted on 03 May 2015

WalnutHilllogoA community meeting to discuss updates to the Walnut Hill Neighborhood Plan will be held on Monday, May 4 from 6 – 8 p.m. at The Enterprise Center (4548 Market St).

Walnut Hill residents can take an active role in the planning process and vote on their top neighborhood priorities in the following areas: business and housing, streets and parking, healthy communities, and community development.

During the first neighborhood plan update meeting in February, participants were presented information on the changes that occurred in the neighborhood, including demographic changes, since the previous plan was written. A timeline outlining the planning process was also presented.

For more information related to the Walnut Hill Neighborhood Plan update please contact Daniel Levin, Special Projects Manager at The Enterprise Center CDC: or 215-895-4014.

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UCAL benefit auction underway; online bidding closes on May 4; live auction is on May 9

Posted on 01 May 2015

UCALThe annual benefit auction for University City Arts League, a great non-profit organization that offers art education and events to the community, is currently underway. Many amazing items are available for bidding, including beautiful art and jewelry pieces, handmade clothing items, oriental rugs, gift certificates to local restaurants and shops, tickets to various shows, books, vacation getaways, wine tastings and much more!

Online bidding closes at 10 p.m. on Monday, May 4. The live auction and party is on Saturday, May 9. Click here for more information.

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Spruce Hill May Fair returns on May 9; vending spots still available; used book donation drive underway (updated)

Posted on 01 May 2015

may fairUPDATE (5/1/2015): 

For the used book sale at the Spruce Hill May Fair, the Spruce Hill Center at 257 S. 45th will be open to receive used books at the following times:

Saturday, May 2: 3-5 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5: 6-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 7: 6-8 p.m.

You can also bring books for donation directly to the fair on May 9.

The annual Spruce Hill May Fair will return to Clark Park on May 9 and will bring dozens of local vendors, live music, food, raffles with great prizes from local businesses, book and plant sales, and games and entertainment for kids.

Vendors will be offering a wide range of arts and crafts, including many gift ideas for Mother’s Day, which is on May 10. There will also be booths set up with information about local groups and causes seeking public support.

The Spruce Hill Community Association, which organizes the event, still has a few vending spots open for interested individuals or organizations. Especially welcome are artists and crafters from West Philadelphia who would like to offer their works for sale, as well as any group or organization wanting to promote itself or a cause, event, or activity.

Application deadline is Friday, May 1. Tables are $30 to $40 (the tables and chairs will be provided). You can download the sign-up sheet here: Vendor Form.

For more information or if you have questions, please contact Mark Wagenveld at or 215-756-2070.

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SUV overturns after collision with another vehicle at 48th and Chester

Posted on 01 May 2015


A reader sent this photo of an overturned car at 48th and Chester this morning. The incident happened at around 8 a.m.

UPDATE: Here’s a witness report:

“It seemed like there were no serious injuries, although the driver of the SUV was taken away by Ambulance. Residents rushed to the SUV to help the driver out of his car. The other vehicle had substantial damage to the front end, but miraculously was drivable. A firefighter started it up and moved it away from the Trolley tracks.”

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Public school breakfast & lunch menu for May 2015

Posted on 30 April 2015

Here is the monthly breakfast and lunch menu served in Philadelphia public schools. Click on the images below to view the menus for grades K-8 and 9-12 for May 2015. If your school uses a Satellite menu, click here.

K-8 Breakfast and Lunch Menu, May 2015


9-12 Breakfast and Lunch Menu, May 2015



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From the McDonald’s at 40th and Walnut to Clark Park: May Day march, rally and celebration this Friday

Posted on 30 April 2015

MayDayUSAThe 8th annual May Day USA march and celebration will take place on Friday, May 1 in West Philadelphia. The event will kick off at 2 p.m. in front of the McDonald’s at 40th and Walnut Streets where a rally will be held calling for a livable wage for all workers. After the rally the participants will march to Clark Park (43rd and Baltimore) where a May Day family celebration will take place.

The Clark Park portion of the event is expected to start at 3 p.m. and will include the following activities and presentations, according to the event’s Facebook page: a DJ, live music, singers, poets, a BBQ by the Veterans For Peace Chapter 31 “Precision Grill Team,” children’s entertainment, and an array of notable speakers from Labor and other allied organizations in Philly. The annual Aggie Moran Human Rights Awards will also be presented.

The event is hosted by May Day USA Education Committee – Philadelphia (Facebook page), with participation by Fight for $15 and $15 Now organizations. The mission of this group, which was founded in 2006, is to educate people about the U.S. origins of May Day (celebrated as International Workers’ Day in many countries), so that “together we may reclaim our proud heritage.” For more information, go to May Day USA Education Committee’s Facebook page. You can also read about May Day here.

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A new bike share station at 44th and Walnut; that’s as far west as it will go for now (updated)

Posted on 30 April 2015

The Indego bike station at 44th and Walnut.

The Indego bike station at 44th and Walnut.

The planned bike share station at 44th and Walnut is now in place, marking (for now, at least) the furthest west the new Ride Indego program will go (map). The last time we checked the station only had a couple of bikes, which has been an early complaint about the stations in West Philly, including the one near 40th and Spruce.

The bike share program plans to add another station near Clark Park. They are still working with the community to determine the best placement for it. We’ll let you know when we have an installation date.

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Amazing cat rescue at 48th and Chester

Posted on 30 April 2015

Many thanks to our reader Nadia Adawi who sent us this report of an amazing cat rescue that took place in the Chester Avenue Dog Park at 48th and Chester last night.

A cat was stuck at the very top of a tree in the dog park for some 36 hours before a heroic rescue by Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, the Philadelphia Fire Department, and Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia. It took five attempts, because the cat kept climbing higher. The cat is now safe at ACCT.



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Large “Philly is Baltimore” rally today; expect traffic delays

Posted on 30 April 2015

large rally in response to the events in Baltimore is planned for today (Thursday, April 30) at 15th and Market Streets near Philadelphia City Hall. The “Philly is Baltimore” rally is set to start at 4:30 p.m. and is expected to draw at least 1,000 protesters.

Due to this event, traffic delays are expected throughout Center City as well as the University City area beginning around 3:30 p.m. today. Penn Public Safety will be in the University City area to assist with traffic flow.


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New grants and awards announced for West Philly schools, arts & culture organizations

Posted on 29 April 2015

Great news for some local schools and lots of arts and culture organizations, which recently received grants and monetary awards for their achievements, continuous service to the community and to support some new projects:

Lea Elementary The West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools (WPCNS) received a $20,000 grant for the Greening Lea project from the TD Green Streets program. A collaboration between the Arbor Day Foundation and TD Bank, this Green Streets grant was one just of 10 awarded to communities across the country. The grant will be used towards planting a large shade tree area over the green stormwater management system to be installed at the Lea play yard this year. Please also check our post on the Greening Lea naming campaign, where local residents and businesses are encouraged to participate.  Continue Reading

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Curio Theatre Company to stage farcical comedy Noises Off

Posted on 29 April 2015


The Curio Theatre is closing out its season with the rollicking comedy Noises Off, a Michael Frayn play about a play, which previews on April 30 – May 7 and opens on May 8.

Noises Off introduces the audience to the epically incompetent cast of Nothing On – the play within the play – and their travails in everything from dress rehearsals to close of the play’s 10-week run. The play takes its title from the theatrical stage direction indicating sounds coming from offstage.

Peter Reynolds is directing the Curio production, Paul Kuhn designed the set and Tim Martis designed the lighting. The costume designer is Aetna Gallagher, and Kathleen Soltan is the stage manager.

The cast includes Kyra Baker, Newton Buchanan, Steve Carpenter, Isabella Fehlandt, Rachel Gluck and Andrew Carroll.

Tickets for the performances range from $15 to $25 and are available here.

Oh, and here’s an added bonus: If you show up to opening night dressed in 80’s attire (the production is set in the 80’s) you have a chance to win two passes for next season.

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Free walking tours in Powelton, on Baltimore Ave this Friday

Posted on 29 April 2015


Click to enlarge.

Here’s a great opportunity to learn more about your neighborhood. This weekend, PlanPhilly is organizing free walks in the city as part of Jane’s Walk, a global movement of free, locally-led walking tours inspired by the urbanist and writer Jane Jacobs. The goal of the tours is to get people engaged with their city and one another and to talk about walkability, neighborhood corridors, hidden histories, public spaces, and more.

There will be two walks in West Philly on Friday, May 1. The first one, titled “Breaking the University City HS Superblock,” will be led by James Wright of People’s Emergency Center (PEC). The walk will begin at 4 p.m. at 40th and Market and travel north (see map). All you need to do is show up at the starting point and come up to James, who will be holding a sign. Check out this page for more information.

Starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Daniel Wolf of the University City District will lead a tour down Baltimore Avenue, called “Making Baltimore Ave a Place for People.” This tour will begin at the 40th Street Trolley Portal and end in Cedar Park. Click here for more info.

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Presentation, community meeting Wednesday on risks of oil trains in Philadelphia neighborhoods

Posted on 28 April 2015


An oil train derailed over the Schuylkill River in January 2014 (archive photo).

On January 20, 2014, an oil train derailed in Philadelphia over the Schuylkill River, a source of drinking water for 1.5 million Philadelphia residents. A year later, 11 train tank cars containing crude oil derailed in a CSX rail yard in South Philadelphia, prompting a response by hazardous response teams. Community members are invited to join a conversation this Wednesday at USciences about the risks of oil trains in Philadelphia, including in some West Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Wednesday’s meeting is part of Clean Water Action‘s Community Listening Tour on oil trains organized for communities closest to the railroads that carry trains with more than 240,000 barrels of crude oil every day.

The meeting will include a 30-minute presentation as a primer on the issue, followed by a neighborhood engagement session. Participants will learn more about the issues and can ask about the risks. All of the input from participants is recorded so that decision-makers receive adequate feedback from their constituents.  Continue Reading

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When the trees come alive in West Philly (photo)

Posted on 27 April 2015

Our reader Deirdre, who has a keen eye for nature in the area (check out her Instagram account @deirdrelovestrees) spotted this cool “screaming tree wearing a crown of blossoms” at 41st and Pine Streets.


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Affordable housing project and ‘live action puzzle’ venue to go before Zoning Board on Tuesday, April 28

Posted on 27 April 2015


The new affordable housing project at 46th and Spruce will replace the former Transition To Independent Living Center building damaged by fire in 2011.

The affordable housing project at the corner of 46th and Spruce Streets will be considered this Tuesday (April 28) by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA).  This is a public meeting and residents are encouraged to provide input on the project.

The project, which includes demolition of the current fire-gutted one-story building (former Transition To Independent Living center) and construction of a four-story 24-unit structure, was approved by the Spruce Hill Community Association’s zoning committee in December 2014.

The Mission First Housing Group building will include one and two-bedroom rental apartments aimed at low-income single residents (read more about the project here).

The Zoning Board of Adjustment will also consider a request for a special permit to all of the warehouse at 4751 Woodland Ave. to be used for “live action puzzle solving activity for more than 50 people,” according to a zoning notice on the property. We’re not sure what that means yet, but we’ll keep you posted.

Both hearings are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor.

4751 Woodland Ave.

4751 Woodland Ave.

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Weekend Events Roundup (April 25-26)

Posted on 24 April 2015

Again, so many great events are taking place in our neck of the woods this weekend for adults and children alike. In addition to the spring edition of Go West! Craft Fest at The Woodlands this Saturday, there will be some free Philadelphia Science Festival activities in Clark Park. Also a reminder that the annual Penn Relays are back this weekend. The schedule is here and expect traffic jams and a lot of visitors on and around Penn’s campus.

In the roundup below we included a few fundraisers for local children’s programs and a bird watching opportunity at Bartram’s Garden. For more events, visit our Events Calendar.

Saturday, April 25

BirdPhilly Bird Walk at Bartram’s Garden

BaltimoreOrioleByJackBartholmai-300x20054th and Lindbergh Blvd.

Come to historic Bartram’s Garden on Saturday morning to enjoy this free bird walk with guides from BirdPhilly when they expect to see late wintering waterfowl with early arriving breeders and migrants like warblers and orioles (both species). 7 – 10 a.m. More infoContinue Reading

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Spruce Hill committee pledges help for Studio 34’s zoning woes and neighbors’ concerns

Posted on 24 April 2015


Studio 34 needs a “nightclub” permit to keep hosting large events like the City Kitties benefit auction pictured here. Photo from City Kitties.

A couple of dozen supporters of Studio 34, the yoga and arts space at 4522 Baltimore Ave., breathed a collective sigh of relief last night when the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee vowed to help figure out a way to get the studio compliant with city codes.

Studio 34 needs a “nightclub” permit to continue to hold events like dance recitals and art shows that it has held since it opened eight years ago. A few residents who live near the studio are concerned that if Studio 34 vacates the building one day (it has a 20-year lease) the nightclub permit might be used to open an actual nightclub. The building’s owner also owns the nearby Fiesta Pizza.

The ordeal began a couple of years ago when an organization rented Studio 34 to host a large event. They set up a bunch of folding chairs, but didn’t leave an aisle, a code violation. Later a city inspector came around and suggested that Studio 34 needed a special permit to hold large events that weren’t part of its core mission as a yoga studio. Since another part of its mission is providing community space for all sorts of events, Studio 34’s co-owners have decided to pursue the permit.

“We just want to do it above board,” said co-owner Jim Peniston.

The zoning committee committed to helping Studio 34 and nearby residents figure out a way to get the permit, but have some limits placed on it. For example, there could be a stipulation that the permit has an expiration date.

“No one is anything but complimentary about what you guys are doing,” said zoning committee chair Barry Grossbach.

While no decision was made at last night’s meeting, the board promised to be supportive of Studio 34’s efforts while reassuring neighbors that they won’t someday live near a rollicking, nighttime hot spot.

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