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Philly Urban Living

Philly Urban Living - Local | Real Estate | News | Development

By Timothy M. Garrity | Broker in Philadelphia, PA
  • Manayunk's canal/towpath is looking for an upgrade

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Parks & Recreation in Philadelphia, In My Neighborhood in Philadelphia  |  November 20, 2013 1:00 PM  |  938 views  |  4 comments
    Cool shot of the Manayunk Canal | Manayunk, Philadelphia

    The goal, to make the entire canal/towpath area more recreation, entertainment, and retail-friendly.

    Don't get me wrong, the Manayunk towpath recently underwent an upgrade at it's western end (past the Green Lane Bridge). Murals have been painted, plantings have been tended to, cleanings are consistently scheduled, and the path itself was re-paved/re-graveled. It was a nice upgrade for all who use it.

    I went for a few runs down there this past summer, and it was pretty awesome; especially when you're close to the Flat Rock Dam.

    Flat Rock Dam

    If you've never walked/ran/biked down this way, I highly recommend checking it out. Parking is easy on Nixon St (where Shawmont Ave dead ends), and you can also catch the Schuylkill River Trail from this spot. Connecting the towpath and the SRT was also part of that project.

    So, back to the canal/towpath plans.

    The next area of focus is the canal "boardwalk," which basically runs from Green Ln to Lock St (by the Manayunk Brewery, aka The Brew Pub). This section of the canal was overhauled close to 40 years ago, and it's still in constant use today; but it could use a sprucing-up. The planning that's going on now is for improvement along this corridor.

    Kay Sykora, Director of the Schuylkill Project, has stated, "We feel that there is an opportunity for the canal boardwalk area to be a great public space. It will move the boardwalk into a more central position and present an opportunity for it to be a connector both up to the commercial district and up into the neighborhood."

    Right on, Kay!

    Manayunk is a busy commercial strip, it has charm that most other cities/towns strive for, and it has an abundance of water (both from the canal and Schuylkill River). Water is what brings people to places like Manayunk, so naturally it should be utilized to its fullest potential.

    On Venice Island, a strip of land that was created when the canal was built (back in the early 1800s), there are already some significant projects taking place. A 3 million gallon stormwater storage tank is being installed (to help with flooding during big storms), a new playground is being built, and a performing arts center is being put up as well; everything is expected to be completed by 2014.

    In the next few months, another project will break ground that will return flowing water back to the Manayunk canal; financing has already been secured/approved.

    The goal for the upcoming planning/project is to make use of an existing asset. Think destinations like San Antonio's RiverWalk, or the canals of Amsterdam. These cities have utilized their waterways as a place for recreation, entertainment, and retail activity.

    Main Street already has strong bones along Manayunk's commercial corridor, but more could be done around back to make it world-class.
  • "The Oval" is just one small example of how Philadelphia is embracing its public spaces

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Quality of Life in Philadelphia, Parks & Recreation in Philadelphia  |  August 8, 2013 2:25 PM  |  1,140 views  |  4 comments

    As stated by Harris Steinberg in this article, Philadelphia has a sense of "renewed urbanity." That's a great way of putting it, but it requires more reading to fully understand it.

    The Oval is a great example of Philadelphia's new found embrace of its public spaces, but it's definitely not the only one. Sister Cities Park and the Race Street Pier are other relevant examples or reusing what we have.

    In the last 10 years or so, Center City has truly taken off. Not only from a real estate agent's perspective, but from a resident's perspective as well.

    Back during my undergrad days at La Salle University (that's right, the recent NCAA "Sweet 16 Cinderella"), from 1997-2001, Center City was almost an afterthought for people my age. Unless you went to Penn or Drexel, you really didn't venture down there that often; unless there was a specific reason to (e.g. museums, famous sandwiches, etc.). In other words, people in their late-teens/early-twenties were more focused on Manayunk. Don't get me wrong, there was definitely a lot of development going on in Center City during the last boom, but it was different than it is today.

    It's interesting how things change so fast. That was only 15 years ago.

    Now, Center City is booming. So much so that it has inspired University City to get up and form solid working relationships with their local universities and hospitals, while also breaking borders with their own neighborhoods in/around Center City. These days, when people refer to Center City, they are thinking beyond 19103, 19102, 19107, and 19106. They are talking about Fairmount, Graduate Hospital, Bella Vista, among others.

    That is what has been happening since my undergrad days.

    Center City is no longer a place to either work or party, it has become a way of life; a true urban lifestyle. Whether you go to school, go to work, or raise a family, there are almost too many things to do on a daily basis. Bike lanes have started to slow down cars, new parks (as well as skate parks, pop-up gardens, and parklets) host weekly events, and the Ben Franklin Parkway is now pedestrian friendly.

    Really?

    Who would have thought this was all possible in 15 years, and today it's moving faster than it ever has. Which means there is a lot more to come, especially on the back of a new real estate boom.

    Manayunk is still an awesome place to be (as I live in the area, and know it well), but even that has changed. When I frequented Main Street in 2000, almost every bar catered to a college crowd. Now we have Han Dynasty, Cooper's, and the highly-anticipated spots Rubb and Taqueria Feliz. On top of all that, a new state-of-the-art charter school is being built just off of Ridge Ave in Roxborough.

    Things are changing for the better.

    Why am I even talking about all of this, and what does it mean? It means that living within Philadelphia's city limits has gone beyond its gimmicky reasons for visiting and/or hanging out just 15 years ago.

    It means that being a Philadelphian today (whether you are a student, young professional, family, or empty nester), makes you a part of something special.
  • The Delaware Waterfront Trail is really starting to come together

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Parks & Recreation in Philadelphia  |  February 14, 2013 7:05 AM  |  523 views  |  No comments

    From Spring Garden St to Penn St, along Philadelphia's Delaware River, the DRWC is spending $1.5M to link more trails together.

    What started as a project overseen by Penn Praxis and volunteer Philadelphians, is now starting to really turn into something cool: progress. Planned areas for development, added green space, and running/walking/biking trails are all on the books for the Delaware River Waterfront's future. Which are all necessary elements if Philadelphia is truly serious about making the Delaware Waterfront world class.

    Add in the Race Street Pier, and recent "Connector" projects, and I would have to say that things are moving along as they should.
  • Bike sharing will be coming to Philadelphia in 2014

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Quality of Life in Philadelphia, Parks & Recreation in Philadelphia  |  December 22, 2012 9:11 AM  |  660 views  |  2 comments

    I've brought up the subject of bike sharing in the past, but I didn't think I would be re-blogging about the subject again so soon.

    Especially, in the context of bike sharing actually becoming a reality.

    The plan is to have 650 bikes by 2014, and then up the supply to 1,200 bikes by 2015. The goal is to connect the Center City, University City, and Temple University areas by bike, and see how it performs.

    My guess is that since Philadelphia is such a popular and well-recognized bicycling city, a bike share program will do very well here.
  • Wanna go for a ride?


    Uh, a bike ride that is.

    It's no secret to local Philadelphians that people love to ride their bikes around town, especially in Center City and it's surrounding neighborhoods. So much so that if you drive around those areas regularly, you are constantly on the lookout for bikers when you attempt to either make a turn or parallel park your car; I know I do.

    But it may come as a surprise to some of you that in 2011 Philadelphia was voted the "#1 US City for Bicycle Commuting." Not only were we seen as number one, but we had almost double the amount of commuters; crazy, right?

    Philly loves to bike, and it's getting more popular every year.
  • The Delaware River Waterfront is not the only one going through positive changes

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Quality of Life in Philadelphia, Parks & Recreation in Philadelphia  |  September 24, 2012 11:34 AM  |  930 views  |  No comments

    I think sometimes people take the Schuylkill Waterfront for granted; I know I do.

    Driving down Kelly or West River (aka MLK Drive) is probably one of the nicest stretches of road in our great city. It's landscaped properly, it has beautiful bridges and scenic hills along its banks, and it's packed almost daily with runners, bikers, and the like.

    In other words, most people take for granted the fact that this area looks so nice these days; but it took a lot of time and effort.

    Here are some more efforts taking place to keep the great momentum going along the Schuylkill banks.
  • The Mann is getting an upgrade

    Posted Under: General Area in Philadelphia, Entertainment & Nightlife in Philadelphia, Parks & Recreation in Philadelphia  |  July 28, 2012 8:44 AM  |  1,223 views  |  No comments

    In all of my years in/around Philadelphia, and with all of the concerts/outdoor events I have gone to, I have never been to The Mann.

    To be honest, I'm surprised myself that I have yet to see a show there. People have given me mixed results; some good, some bad.

    Aside from outside opinions, I now have a reason to go and see a show there:
    • Skyline Stage & Lawn
    • Lawn expansion
    • New video screens
    • Upgraded audio system
    In other words, an already fine outdoor concert venue is about to get even finer.
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