Broad and Erie to get major redesign

Germantown Ave – June 2020
The area around Broad Street, Erie Avenue and Germantown Avenue is set for a redesign. PHOTO: City of Philadelphia

A key hub for business and transit in North Philadelphia is going to be transformed, and residents have a chance to weigh in on the design.

Officials earlier this week opened a survey about different proposals for the intersection of Broad Street, Erie Avenue and Germantown Avenue.

The corner, which is home to Max’s Streaks, Dwight’s Southern Barbecue, other popular businesses and a busy SEPTA station, has been in need of a facelift for a while, according to Majeedah Rashid, CEO of the Nicetown Community Development Corporation.

“It’s blighted. It’s old,” she said. “Nothing’s been done there for decades.”

It’s a priority of Mayor Jim Kenney to improve the area, and this project, which is expected to cost $4 to $6 million, is a part of that effort, members of his administration said.

The goal is to make the intersection safer — it has been identified by the city as having a high rate of crashes — and more welcoming to residents, commuters, businesses and shoppers, said Lily Reynolds, of the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability.

Three themed proposals are presented in the survey, and the final design will incorporate aspects of all three concepts, according to the city.

The plan focuses on reshaping a pair of traffic triangles — one near Erie and the other closer to Butler Street, both along Broad.

One of the designs, dubbed “Literature,” pays homage to the nearby Nicetown-Tioga Library and Black and Nobel book shop. It features seating, tables and quotes from prominent members of the community and historic figures in the pavement and on benches.

This rendering shows what the Butler Street triangle would look like under the “Literature” concept. PHOTO: City of Philadelphia

The second proposal, called “Motion,” includes light-up cubes to sit on, a kiosk in the shape of a trolley car and chairs that move along a set of tracks.

In the third design, “Music,” a small amphitheater is placed at the Butler Street triangle with a newspaper stand. It’s a nod to the nightclubs and music halls that used to dot the neighborhood. There’s also an art installation and string lights.

“We are really interested in reflecting what we are going to be hearing from the local community in this plan,” Reynolds said.

Rashid favors the “Literature” proposal. She hopes the project, however it turns out, creates safe gathering spaces for residents of the neighborhood and helps stimulate local business.

“All in all, we think it’s a very good proposal that is community-driven,” she said.

The online survey asks people to rate various elements of the plan. It will remain up until Oct. 20.

Residents can also contribute feedback by emailing [email protected] or texting or calling 215-436-9886.

Municipal employees will be at the intersection to give in-person surveys from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and during the same time period on Thursday, Oct. 1.

Andrew Simpson, a transit policy planner with OTIS, said officials aim to finalize the design by the end of the summer, with construction expected to start in 2022. The hope is to have it completed sometime in 2023.

The city is actively securing funding for the project from state grants and other sources, according to Reynolds.

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