Protecting vital assets

The Preservation Alliance held its second annual conference called “A Sense of Place: Preserving Philadelphia Neighborhoods” this month that included a look at “middle market” neighborhoods that could use a boost to their marketability.

“These are neighborhoods that have a lot going for them. They aren’t the ones struggling at bottom, or really hot neighborhoods doing well on their own,” Alliance Director of Neighborhood Preservation Patrick Hauck said last week, “but ones that could really make a difference with a little marketing. Do they have a park or strength or a project they could do to make their neighborhoods even stronger?”

He said these neighborhoods are in essence “healthy but could be healthier.”

The program is called “Vital Neighborhoods” and is based on a similar initiative in Baltimore, called “Healthy Neighborhoods.”

“The heart of the program is community building, getting people engaged with one another,” said Amy McCollum, interim director of the Vital Neighborhoods Project.

“Besides making the neighborhoods look better, it’s also about creating a lot of community feel among residents,” she added.

Past and present

The “Vital Neighborhoods” project has already had success in Fairmount, East Mount Airy and Fishtown, McCollum said. In Fairmount, for instance, the 2900 block of Harper Street was given the funding to create a more friendly environment for both sides of the street through a painting and fencing initiative that covered up the garages dominating one side.

The initiative is entering a second phase in recent months, with 15 areas throughout the city eligible for funding this year.

For more on the project and what is being developed in these communities, go to

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