"West Philly"

Fire at The Westover Apartments, 47th and Pine (photos)

Posted on 20 December 2014 by

Reader David Brown sent us photos of yesterday’s fire at The Westover apartment building near 47th and Pine Streets. Read more about the fire here.



Fire47thPineDavidBrown2 Continue Reading

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Beer, coffee, tasty treats, local art, memberships, gift cards…: Buy Local for the holidays

Posted on 20 December 2014 by Mike Lyons

shoplocallog-300x300Less than a week to go until Christmas and Hanukkah has already started. So where to go for those local holiday gifts? Don’t worry, we got you covered. Here are some options from our Buy Local for the Holidays Guide:

• Local arts and crafts

The University City Arts League‘s Annual Holiday Crafts Show and Sale supports the work of area artists and crafts people. The show runs through Sunday, Dec. 21 and features hand-made, one-of-a-kind creations by 30 local artists. Open Friday 3 – 8 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 12 – 6 p.m., 4226 Spruce St. Speaking of local artists, a great spot to find local gifts is VIX Emporium, where you can get everything from locally made West Philly t-shirts to handcrafted bags, jewelry and clothing.

• The gift of grub

CaferenatagiftcardsGift cards are always a safe bet. How about a festive brunch gift card? Check out Café Renata (4305 Locust St.). They have a bunch of new gift cards in stock and cookies and cakes for small holiday gatherings. Speaking of holiday get togethers, The Gold Standard Café (4800 Baltimore Ave.) is taking reservations for holiday festivities or just a great meal at 215-727-8247. Aksum Café (4630 Baltimore Ave.) is offering 15 percent off their unique Mediterranean fare for parties of 12 or more during the holidays. The offer is good on dinners Sunday through Thursday.

• Pets and pageturners

Don’t forget your pet (or pet owner) this holiday season. There’s a ton of ridiculously fun and useful stuff for dogs and cats down at Baltimore Pet Shoppe (4532 Baltimore Ave.) This is also a great place to go if the holiday stress has you down. Watch the cats up for adoption for a few minutes and you’ll be back to your old self. Another awesome way to unwind during the colder months is spend time with a great book, one of the all-time great gift ideas. Penn Book Center (130 S. 34th) is an independent locally owned and operated bookstore with great deals going on all kinds of books, from works by local authors and on local topics to cookbooks and everything in between. They currently have 2-for-1 deals and 20 percent off select gift books.

• Memberships

A fantastic way to support the local community is through memberships, which directly help support some of our favorite spots in West Philly. We highly recommend a membership to Bartram’s Garden, one of the true treasures of West Philadelphia. Another gift that keeps giving is a membership to Mariposa Food Co-op, which not only gets you discounts on fresh organic food and other items, but gives you a chance to have a say in how this vital community asset is operated.

Beer, coffee and tasty treats

beerThe holiday season is a time for food and drink. So if you are looking for anything from quality craft beer, to a delectable bag of coffee or a fine cheese, here are some suggestions. Local 44’s Bottle Shop (4333 Spruce St.) has one of the best bottle beer selections in the city. Great ideas for parties or stock stuffers. One of the most cosy coffee shops in West Philly, The Coffee Market (405 S. 45th) is a good spot to warm up during the winter and they also have a ton of different organic and fair trade roasts for sale by the bag. Gift cards are also available. Also, Milk and Honey Market (4435 Baltimore Ave.) is an all-around holiday haven, with loads of gift ideas for home brewers, hosts and hostesses and even kids. Want a little taste of summer during the holiday season? A gift card from Lil’ Pop Shop (265 S. 44th) might do the trick. The shop is open this winter and, in addition to the crazy good popsicles, is offering a selection of fresh-baked cookies and super-good hot chocolate.

Lastly, local merchants who make up the Baltimore Avenue Business Association would like to thank you for buying local and keeping your hard-earned money in the community. Happy Holidays everyone!

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Fire at The Westover apartments, 47th and Pine (updated)

Posted on 19 December 2014 by


UPDATE (10:55 p.m.): A GoFundMe page has been set up to help a couple displaced by the fire. Kristie and Mark’s apartment was destroyed and they lost all of their belongings in the fire, according to information posted on the page. They are currently staying with family.

If you know of any other people displaced by the fire please let us know (

The Red Paw Relief Team again did a great job providing emergency assistance to pets:

(1:10 p.m.): Several residents have been evacuated. The streets in the two-block radius around the fire are closed.

(12:59 p.m.): Fire crews are at the scene and the fire has been taken under control. The fire began on the second floor in an apartment facing Pine Street.

West Philly Local readers are reporting that a fire broke out at The Westover apartment building at 4730 Pine St (across from the Garden Court Eatery), shortly after 12 p.m.. We’re trying to get more information. Stay tuned. Twitter Photo by @AtomicChristine:


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Tenuous community consensus reached on preserving Wiota Street Garden

Posted on 19 December 2014 by Mike Lyons

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.11.34 AM

The Wiota Street Garden (from Google Street View).

Those in attendance at last night’s public meeting on the future of the Wiota Street Garden in West Powelton tenuously agreed to block attempts to build housing on the parcel.

Some 60 people turned out for a meeting of the West Powelton Concerned Community Council, which, though divisive at times, led Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell to promise to stop developers’ attempts to buy the land and construct housing. She also urged community members to devise a plan that would make the garden a community space with a defined and transparent management structure.

The City of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, which owns the parcel at 46 Wiota St. (near 40th and Powelton), has deferred any decision to sell the property to Blackwell, who attended the meeting to gauge public opinion. Her agreement to help protect the garden came with the stipulation that it be managed in a way that invites the entire community.  Continue Reading

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Hang a Jawnament on your Christmas tree (made in West Philly!) (Update: Sold out!)

Posted on 18 December 2014 by


UPDATE (12/19/2014, 1:50 p.m.): Jawnaments and other items described below have been sold out!

“Sorry, but we ran out of supplies! Thanks for all of the support and please check back in after the holidays for new products!” reads a message on the Workshop Industries Holiday Order Form.

(12/18/2014): Here’s a chance to do the holidays Philly style and help a local after-school program. Students enrolled in the Workshop Industries after school program at the Workshop School, an innovative, project-based high school in West Philly, made some amazing Christmas tree ornaments and Jawnaments (it is worth giving these as gifts just for a chance to explain “jawn” to an out-of-town relative). They are available for order and pick up at their location at 221 S. Hanson St (near 48th and Locust). You can also purchase a beautiful handmade Christmas House (with or without light) and even all-natural lip balm ($2), available in three flavors: coconut, clementine, and chocolate mint.

By the way, all the ornaments are $5, but this Jawnament below is $3:


To see all the items available for sale click here. For more information on how to order, go to this page. Orders can be picked up on Monday (Dec. 22) from 3:30 to 6 p.m., or you can choose your order to be delivered to you.

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Affordable housing plan at 46th and Spruce back in front of Spruce Hill zoning committee

Posted on 18 December 2014 by Mike Lyons


With the expanded footprint of the new building, the area between nearby buildings has come into question, including the area bordering the Kingsbury apartment building (seen on the right in this image).

The developers of a proposed affordable housing building at 46th and Spruce presented more detailed plans for the four-story, 24-unit structure, which will replace the one-story building damaged by fire in 2011, to the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee on Wednesday night.

The Mission First Housing Group‘s building would include 24 one- and two-bedroom rental apartments aimed at people with a household income of $36,000 a year or less and is contingent on state funding. Mission First hopes to improve its chances for funding by going through the zoning process, which will require variances for building height, erecting a multi-family structure and not providing parking.

Their proposal got some pushback from neighbors concerned about the building’s height, which will be 10 feet higher than current restrictions, and its distance from nearby buildings. Tentative plans call for the new building to be pushed back from the Spruce Street sidewalk (the current building comes right up to the property line) to be more in line with other buildings on Spruce. That means the building has to go higher to accommodate the number of units needed for the project to be feasible.

The owner of the building in the rear of the project also wants a little more setback from his apartment building, the Kingsbury. Negotiations have been ongoing between the Kingsbury’s owner and Mission First to come up with a compromise that may push the building a little further toward Spruce Street.

Plans include indoor bike storage and trash receptacles and a compactor that would be stored inside. No parking is proposed, but Mission First representative Mark Deitcher said that few residents in similar housing complexes that the organization operates around the city own cars.

The building would be aimed at attracting low-income single residents, particularly veterans. Last night’s meeting was scheduled to get an update and no decisions were made. A full hearing on the project will be conducted after the plan is submitted to the city.

Mike Lyons

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