Brewerytown: A Neighborhood with a Plan

Shelly Anthony White addressed the concerns of a Brewerytown youth.]

As an organization created for making positive quality-of-life improvements in its neighborhood, the Greater Brewerytown Community Development Corp. recently experienced a significant staffing change.

Shelly Anthony White addressed the concerns of a Brewerytown youth.

In January, Shelly Anthony White assumed the executive director post at GBCDC, moving into her new role four months after joining the organization in September 2011 to assist in ensuring GBCDC fulfills the many needs of Brewerytown residents.

“I’m not a longtime Brewerytown resident, [but] I have plenty of long-time Brewerytown voices that support me and help me to understand the needs of the community,” Anthony White said.

Anthony White’s experience in the community development sector contributes to her leadership appeal. She’s been involved in community development for a number of years, 10 of which include working for Wachovia Bank as its Philadelphia community development officer.

Through its experienced and qualified staff the GBCDC provides a variety of resources for Brewerytown residents.

“Our goal is to really try to educate our residents,” Anthony White said.

The corporation’s wheel chair accessible office space, located at 30th and Master streets, holds multiple office and working spaces, a community room that can be reserved for events, a technology lab and storage areas. Anthony White said the organization wanted the residents to know that the space is there for their benefit and use.

Bulletin boards detailing job opportunities and community announcements are found in the lobby, ensuring

A Brewerytown youth conducted research using the technology lab.

accessibility to all visitors. The 23-station technology lab, established through a partnership with Penrose properties, Melon Green Realty and Westrum Development Corp., seeks to address the technological void GBCDC feels  exists within the neighborhood.

In addition to remaining dedicated to supporting the Brewerytown neighborhood, GBCDC is determined to service the needs of youth in the community. The organization works to empower all of the youth in the neighborhood desiring that youth become active, involved, working hard at school and other academic endeavors in pursuit of being good citizens.

The GBCDC youth programs consist of after-school and out-of-school programs, including sports such as basketball.  The basketball program in particular services youth who are 16-years-old and younger.

So far, the GBCDC has sustained and remains on track with its goal completion, organization founder James Carter said, noting that significant changes have taken place in the community since the organization’s inception.

“Crime has gone down and there’s sheer evidence of that. Open sale drugs on the corners has diminished with the help of the Philadelphia Police Department,” Carter said.

Carter said neighborhood residents are able to obtain grants through GBCDC programs with city agencies to improve their homes. There’s also been a “re-interest of developers in the area,” Carter said, which brought about agreements for them to help the GBCDC revitalize blighted areas in the community. This is so GBCDC can “improve the housing stock” by providing affordable homes.

One of the GBCDC’s larger scale projects is the Brewerytown Neighborhood Plan.

James Carter, the GBCDC founder, focused on planning and coordinating upcoming events.

In 2007, the GBCDC incorporated and began to serve the community. Over the next three years, it developed a comprehensive plan to revitalize the neighborhood. Planning meetings, resident questionnaires and interviews enabled it to work closely with community members and ensure that everyone’s voice was included.

“After some good years and some bad years, we acquired a grant from Wells Fargo Incorporated to implement our neighborhood plan,” Carter said.

The $450,000 grant awarded to the GBCDC and the Fairmount CDC for the next three years was enough to start the five-year neighborhood plan.  Naomi Roberson, the grant manager/community projects director, was hired as a result of the grant. Roberson works as a shared employee between the GBCDC and the Fairmount Community Development Corp. She is responsible for ensuring the smooth implementation of the plan.

“It is very much a collaborative process between the Fairmount CDC and the Greater Brewerytown CDC. We have this thing that we say: we’re two neighborhoods, one community,” Roberson said.

The plan essentially gives five key recommendations for what the dneighborhood feels the GBCDC and other non-profit organizations should do to make Brewerytown a viable and thriving neighborhood. Those five key recommendations include: (1) building awareness and volunteerism, (2) investing in people, through programming (3) focusing on a mixed income approach as well as physical redevelopments, (4) creating green space and (5) furthering the Girard Avenue revitalization efforts.

The Wells Fargo Regional Foundation funds a few select organizations with a grant varying in size from $100,000 to $750,000. That grant is disbursed over three to five years for the implementation of a neighborhood plan. Thanks to a partnership with the Fairmount CDC, the GBCDC successfully wrote and secured the grant.

Carter, Anthony White and Roberson share the excitement of what’s to come for Brewerytown with the help of the GBCDC’s efforts. This trio is  committed to revitalizing without displacing Brewerytown’s long-term residents.

“Brewerytown is a growing community. We’re facing the same problems as many other neighborhoods throughout the city of Philadelphia,” GBCDC founder Carter said. “We want you to take a look at Brewerytown today, and we invite you to come back in three years. I guarantee there will be great change.”

1 Comment

  1. With deep sincerity, I wish them luck. Over the past decade or two, the Brewerytown section of Girard Avenue has seen several facelifts, lights, paving, infrastructure for the Trolley, but no demostrative, tangible results. Give us some measure of success, increased sales volume, more foot traffic, more or higher grade of businesses. Retail is not the only business.

    Girard Avenue was fortunate that Rainbow took over the Value City, and did so rather quickly. Since Westrum’s Brewerytown development, M&M Partners have done a good job of renovating and occupying Girard Avenue frontage, scattered-site housing and now their latest challenge, North 28.

    But Bricks and Mortor alone do not make a community. The ever needed Quality of Life issues are the backbone of the community. It will take up to a full generation to see any lasting changes. Focus on the youth, as well as ways to lure new comers to Brewerytown. And be aware of developments in neighboring Strawberry Mansion, Sharswood, and Fairmount-north.

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