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

Posted on 23 October 2014 by

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, Sabrina’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: 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 by


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 by Mike Lyons

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 by


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 by Mike Lyons

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 by

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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