Another holiday season has come to 52nd Street and efforts are continuing to help the teeming commercial strip regain its reputation as “West Philly’s Main Street.”
52nd Street Station after renovation.
Over the past five years, the Enterprise Center’s Community Development Corporation (TEC-CDC) has invested in the renewal of 52nd Street, a once busy commercial corridor hit hard by the 10-year Market-Frankford EL reconstruction project. Providing guidance and support, the neighborhood initiative group has worked to spur economic growth in the area, hoping to bring back its vitality.
As part of those efforts, TEC-CDC recently hired Akeem Dixon as the retail gateway’s first-ever Commercial Corridor Manager, made possible by support from the Philadelphia Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC). In his role, Dixon will primarily oversee a cleaning contract managed by the center, funded in part by the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, aimed to “help make 52nd Street the best it can be,” said Bryan Fenstermacher, TEC-CDC’s senior director of programming.
52nd Street Station before the 2007-2008 reconstruction project / Photos: Wikipedia.
“Our [work] is to make 52nd Street the most attractive and vibrant corridor that it can be,” Fenstermacher told West Philly Local. “52nd Street is really the livelihood of West Philadelphia … A number of people grew up here on the corridor and remember what it used to be like. There’s no reason it can’t come back.”
Hiring a portal manager is a major development not only for the corridor, but for the local University of Pennsylvania-affiliated organization, which has a hand in its planning and economic growth. According to Fenstermacher, the new manager will also serve as a soundboard for the “wants and needs” of the area, helping TEC-CDC leverage the requests of 52nd Street’s businesses and residents. Dixon will, in effect, act as a liaison for those partners involved in the corridor—be they local community associations or business owners and street vendors—so there’s full engagement among everyone who has a stake in 52nd Street’s success.
“What we would like to see is the businesses and vendors come together to support somebody that’s full-time on there as a sustainable practice,” said Fenstermacher. “We’re there to support the stakeholders and the corridor, so I see us being there long-term.”