In his office located on the second-floor of the Mayfair Community Center, Marc Collazzo, 49, has been getting used to his new job.
Collazzo became the executive director of the Mayfair Business Improvement District in October.
Collazzo has now made it his mission to familiarize himself with the wants and needs of Mayfair businesses and residents.
What is the Mayfair Business Improvement District and what is your role in it?
The Mayfair Business Improvement District was created by City Council statute and started in 2015. It creates an area that the majority of the property owners have to vote to be part of, where they pay an extra assessment, get capital one improvements, extra security measures on the avenue, extra services, trash cleanup and also marketing.
This is to try and get people to come to certain businesses and also the avenue.
The executive director is basically the one who is in charge of making all of those things happen using the funding we get from the assessments as well as trying to file for grants, projects, sponsorships and things of that nature.
What are your ties with Mayfair and more broadly, the Northeast community?
So, I never left, even though I went to Widener University School of Law and Temple University. I always just fell in love with the place. While a lot of my friends moved, I always stayed.
What is it about Mayfair that makes you want to work here?
We’re our own little entity up here. We also have these vibrant communities and a lot of people who I know either grew up here and have fond memories of it, or even some of the elderly people have some of those feelings.
So, when I came here, that’s what I wanted to go back to – a place where we have this beautiful thoroughfare that is easy to get to with public transportation.
That’s what really drew me to it. I really do believe that while I love the neighborhood, we can enhance it. We can make it better. We can make it a place that our community loves, but other people want to come too.
What are the major issues the community faces?
From a practical standpoint, security is probably the most significant because you can point to something and say, ‘Here’s how it was and here’s how it is now.’
One of the big initiatives I’m glad were able to be doing is, if you ever been on Frankford Avenue, it can kind of be dangerous. We have two lanes going each way, with a turning lane, and cars can fly. We’re getting this full comprehensive corridor study done. What we’re going to look into is what ways to make this avenue pedestrian friendly.
I’m trying to bring shoppers here but I’m also trying to bring businesses here. That’s part of what my job is – to recruit.
And how are the businesses, whether they’re newer commercial businesses or small family-owned “mom-and-pop” shops? How are they vital to Mayfair?
Most of these are small businesses. The family-owned businesses work nonstop to make these businesses go. They don’t always have the time to devote to maybe marketing or maybe getting attention here.
So, it’s my obligation for the ones that are here, and the ones that we want to come, to bring unique, dynamic things that people will want to come, stay and shop here.
We don’t want empty storefronts. I know that’s a problem in other places.
With this revitalization of the community, do you think it will change it? Or do you think it will just improve upon what it already is?
Improve it. We are very mindful of it.
Mayfair is just huge in size. So, even though you’re talking about the two-mile stretch on Frankford Ave., the community that it represents is enormous. And we never want to create something that the people who live here can’t enjoy and won’t go to.
-Text and images by Megan DiVenti and Kaci Lewandowski.