Archive | December, 2012

34 Trolley is back

December 31, 2012

Baltimore Avenue

After a week-long service disruption due to the fire at Elena’s Soul, Route 34 trolley has resumed normal operation this morning. SEPTA advises to expect some residual delays while full operations are restored.

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University Avenue Bridge to close for three weeks

December 31, 2012

UniversityAvenueBridgeThe University Avenue/34th Street Bridge crossing the Schuylkill River in the Grays Ferry section will be closed for repairs and cleaning for approximately three weeks beginning Wednesday, Jan. 2, according to a PennDOT announcement. The bridge is part of a common route to access Interstate 76.

The bridge will be closed to all traffic, including pedestrians. During this period drivers should expect an increase in traffic and are advised to detour over Grays Ferry Ave., Woodland Ave. and 38th St. The bridge, which is a double-leaf drawstring bridge, has been in operation since 1930 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

In addition, Penn Public Safety has posted an announcement that Spruce Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from 34th Street to 38th Street from 12:00 a.m. (midnight) on Friday, Jan. 4 to 5 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, for installation of a crane. Drivers are advised to follow marked detour signs during this time.


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An open letter to the community from Elena’s Soul owner Algernong Allen III

December 30, 2012

Elena's soul

Algernong Allen standing in the remains of the Elena’s Soul building. Photo by Danophonic Dan.

Editor’s note: Algernong sent us this letter in response to our request for comments on the future of Elena’s Soul. We’ve edited it to fit our format, but the words were not changed.

My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies are with the employees, residents and owners, of business and property in the Cedar Park community detrimentally impacted by the fire at Elena’s Soul on Monday December 24th at about 1 p.m. My greatest consolation is that there was no loss of life, or injury.

The initial determination of the City’s Fire Marshal and my independent fire inspector indicates the fire originated in the kitchen somewhere above the refrigerators, most likely in the ceiling. Due to the temperature of the blaze, hot enough to melt metal, and the total decimation, the exact cause is not determinable. There were no fire violations at Elena’s Soul, and all City required inspections and maintenance of cooking equipment, fire alarm system,  fire suppression, hood cleaning and fire extinguishers were current.  Foul play is not suspected or indicated by any reports at this time.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections declared Elena’s 3-story brick structure unsafe and scheduled demolition. The neighboring businesses, Gary’s Nails and the Cedar Park Café, had suffered limited physical and structural damages as a result of the conflagration. However, during demolition, the towering brick walls were felled into the neighboring businesses, causing severe and extensive damages. Gary’s Nails may have been structurally compromised and may face condemnation.

I am more sorry for the misfortune caused to the wonderful women, who operate Gary’s Nails and their employees, than words can express.

For our customers, our friends, who have become our ever growing and changing family … Thank you! I know many felt Elena’s Soul (and LeRoy’s) was as much their place as it was mine. Community was built there. No matter the difference of culture, hue, orientation or outlook, our common desire to share fellowship though food, music and drink contributed to understanding and acceptance of our differences.

I have great sadness that your special place is gone, and our special place is lost.


“I have great sadness that your special place is gone, and our special place is lost.” (Photo from Elena’s Soul Facebook page)

For this, not only do I feel your pain, but I share it, and understand it.

It is too early to say what the next step is from here. The process of recovery is extremely complex. The realities of liability, insurance, litigation and debt make simple answers to simple questions difficult.

In terms of fundraising, I understand that many wish to find ways to help.  I would respectfully ask those who wish to help, not to press the issue.  I appreciate the sentiment, but do not wish to be the object of charity.

I am thankful to be a part of your community. I am thankful for the outpouring of support and sympathy. We have all lost a special place. May we all hold on to our good memories.

Best Regards,

Algernong Allen III

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Second teen suspect apprehended in El shooting

December 29, 2012

Police last night apprehended the teen suspected of shooting two men at the 46th Street El stop earlier this month.

Matthew Early, 18, was taken into custody in a friend’s home on the 1700 block of N. 27th St. at about 6 p.m. on Friday, police said. Police apprehended his brother, 17-year-old Eric Early, on Dec. 16. Both brothers live on the 100 block of S. 49th St.

Both teens were on the run after they were named as suspects shown in surveillance video firing a single shot into a train car on Dec. 12 following an argument with a Chicago Bulls fan returning home from the Bulls-Sixers game earlier that night. One man was shot through the stomach and a man standing behind him was hit with the same bullet in the leg.

Police say Matthew Early was the shooter. Both brothers have been charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. Eric Early has been charged as an adult, police said.


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Elena’s Soul building demolished, causing extensive damage to nail salon and diner

December 28, 2012


UPDATE (Dec. 30): The Wine and Spirits store on the 4900 block of Baltimore Avenue has reopened.

Crews have demolished the building that housed the popular bar and restaurant Elena’s Soul, which was destroyed by fire Monday. The demolition caused severe damage to adjacent buildings, prompting the city to order that those buildings either be repaired or demolished themselves.

The City placed an “imminently dangerous” notice on Gary’s Nails today after the walls of the three-story building that housed Elena’s collapsed through the nail salon’s roof. A wall in Gary’s was also severely damaged during the demolition. The notice requires the building’s owner to repair or demolish the building in a timely manner.

A wall from the Elena’s building also crashed through the roof of the adjacent Cedar Park Cafe, prompting the City to also serve notice to the building’s owner that it needs to be repaired or demolished.

The fire and demolition has also impacted the Wine and Spirit Store next door to Gary’s. The store has been closed since demolition began and a sign posted in the window says that it will be “closed until further notice.” It remained closed Friday afternoon.

So far there has been no indication of where or whether Elena’s will rebuild. Elena’s Soul carried on a long tradition of bars in the building, which was reportedly built in 1908. Before Elena’s, the building was the home of Leroy’s Showcase Lounge. Elena’s catered to a relatively young, multiracial crowd.

“That place brought a lot of different kinds of people together,” said one man as he watched the demolition today. “Gonna be tough to replace that.”

A cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

liquor store

The liquor store adjacent to Gary’s Nails will be closed until further notice.


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Garden Court Winter Stroll & Holiday House Tour Saturday

December 27, 2012

Garden Court Community Association hosts its Winter Stroll & Holiday House Tour on Saturday, Dec. 29, from 5-8 p.m. and invites you to come out and spread holiday cheer in the neighborhood.

The stroll begins at 4603 Cedar Avenue and continues to other festive homes in the community. There will be music, theater and fun and light refreshments will be served. The event will take place in rain or snow.

Cost is $10 with advanced registration; $15 at the door. Children under 12 are free. RSVP to Mary-Knight Young at or 215-779-3692.

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