Infill Philadelphia: Food Access


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David Rouse of WRT is leading a panel at the annual state planning conference addressing the question: How Can Pennsylvania’s Communities Plan for a Sustainable Future? Other WRT presenters include Mami Hara (Infill Philadelphia: Food Access) and Robert Kerns (Zoning the Appalachian Trail: Implementing State Legislation to Protect a National Resource).

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  • Introductions and general outline of presentation. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • The Community Design Collaborative is a community design center that provides pro bono predevelopment design services to nonprofit organizations, offers unique volunteer opportunities for design professionals, and raises awareness about the importance of design in community revitalization. Early design assistance can have a big impact. It helps nonprofit organizations assess their options, raise funding, use resources effectively, and develop high-quality capital projects that will enhance both their missions and the larger community. Funding for predevelopment design services is scarce in the nonprofit sector and it was this gap in funding that led to the creation of the Community Design Collaborative in 1991. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Infill Philadelphia The Collaborative’s first proactive initiative - Infill Philadelphia - was launched to bring together practitioners, developers, policymakers, funders, and neighborhood leaders to explore how design can help in low- and moderate-income urban communities. A new approach to a common development hurdle in urban neighborhoods: focuses on urban infill development—a significant revitalization strategy for Philadelphia and other older American cities a design initiative created by the Community Design Collaborative three phases over five years, with each phase addressing a different type of infill development. Goals: • Generate workable solutions for under-utilized space in Philadelphia neighborhoods. • Promote systems change by developing exciting ideas that will help Philadelphia’s leaders rethink the future of city neighborhoods. • Foster an understanding of the value of good design among community leaders and developers. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • In 2005, Philadelphia Neigh’d Dev. Corp. (now called Neighborhoods Now), and the Community Design Collaborative organized the Affordable Housing Design Challenge to address the site-specific challenges of small-scale row homes and blocks in three Philadelphia neighborhoods. Three community development corporations were matched with three leading design firms who volunteered their time and talents to undertake the Challenge. The Collaborative volunteer teams from Interface Studio, Francis Cauffman Foley Hoffmann, and Becker Winston Architects worked closely with community groups Asociacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM), New Kensington CDC and Project H.O.M.E. to investigate strategies for affordable housing and to produce useful design prototypes. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • After the design challenge concluded, Associacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha hired services of Interface Studio to prepare construction drawings, which received 2006 AIA Philadelphia Silver Medal--highest award unbuilt project can receive. In September 2008, project broke ground near Temple University in Eastern North Philadelphia, between Berks and Sheridan Streets, for these green technology homes. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Phase One, LISC Philadelphia partnered with Collab to focus on Philadelphia’s Commercial Corridors
  • Infill Philadelphia uses design-centered approach that hinges on collaboration and promotes innovation from start to finish. Guiding the approach is an intensive, interactive design process that begins with site visits and community focus groups, followed by a public kick-off and a juried mid-review, and concludes with public presentations and exhibits. Infill Philadelphia : Commercial Corridors got people collaborating across professions on an issue that affects them all. Design professionals Developers Economic development specialists– public and private sector Leaders and members of community organizations Business owners Residents Media
  • Three volunteer design firms closely partnered with three community-based organizations to create concepts that responded to each site’s specific requirements, including reusing a vacant theater, enhancing a corridor gateway, and expanding a local bar into a full-service restaurant. The designs produced not only dealt with physical assets and aesthetics, but also addressed social and economic issues and the interests of the residents.
  • The Collaborative partnered with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) and The Food Trust for the second phase. In far too many urban communities fresh, healthy, affordable food is entirely absent. The result is a surge in obesity, diabetes and other public health issues that continue to grow more costly and troubling by the year.   Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Shocking statement. The barriers to developing and operating urban supermarkets range from misperceptions regarding local buying power to the very real challenges of smaller urban spaces, zoning, workforce and security needs. While the PA Fresh Food Financing Initiative helps food entrepreneurs tackle some early financial issues, they don’t tend to have access to designers who can help them visualize how they could use non-standard space. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • More options in urban markets can bring about significant change. Research proves that a well-stocked grocery store or supermarket directly contributes to the health of a neighborhood – serving as a community anchor, providing local jobs and lowering the cost of living for residents while allowing them to enjoy healthy food choices, and improve their overall well-being. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), a public/private venture, supports the financing needs of supermarket operators that plan to operate in underserved communities where infrastructure costs and credit needs cannot be met solely by conventional financial institutions. The initiative has put the spotlight on the issue of food access and sparked a powerful dialogue about how to tackle the significant gap in urban and low-income communities.   Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Three community-based organizations and three volunteer design firms team up to address an actual site that has been selected by the community-based organization. Each team visits the site and surrounding corridor to better understand its challenges and opportunities. The projects for Infill Philadelphia: Food Access included retrofitting a corner grocery as a neighborhood food co-op, transforming a vacant warehouse into a large food co-op and retail anchor for a business district, and developing a supermarket on a challenging urban infill site. Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • The kick-off program announced the issue, the teams, and project sites and featured State Representative Dwight Evans, founder of the FFFI, and a keynote address by Dr. Kimberly Morland, an expert specializing in Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Morland discussed the impact of better food access on low-income, urban communities and the social, health and economic factors surrounding what experts refer to as urban “food deserts” – neighborhoods with few markets and fresh food stores. Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • After visiting their sites with the community nonprofit group, each team held at least one focus group meeting with local residents to better understand the issues in that particular neighborhood. Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • Two months into the design process, the teams present their initial findings/concepts to the community groups and a jury of experts who help keep the teams on task...are the designs inventive yet practical? Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • While an established, stable community, West Oak Lane offers minimal options when it comes to fresh food. Mount Airy-based Weavers Way, a member-supported cooperative market, was given the opportunity to lease a two-story storefront building in West Oak Lane as a pilot location for a new network of small “satellite” co-ops designed to bring fresh, locally-grown food to underserved neighborhoods. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • The volunteer firm, Agoos/Lovera was led by architect Alex Chan. The design team’s goal was to maximize the use of the existing storefront building and to expand square footage and programming possibilities through the development of the site’s adjacent vacant lot. The team proposed a phased plan for growth, with each phase building upon the previous and responding to increased community support. Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • The design allows for a number of inventive features, including a security grille of perforated metal panels that folds out to a combination open-air produce stand, community bulletin board and overhead canopy during business hours. After hours, the grille collapses into a single transparent plane that secures the store and lights the streetscape. Alex will explain this concept in much more detail. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • The third phase proposed by Agoos Lovera considers full expansion onto the adjacent vacant lot to optimize the co-op’s potential as a community anchor. A publicly-accessible green roof is also part of the ultimate scheme, providing additional green space and an outdoor classroom. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Chester’s Community Grocery Co-op (CCGC) started with thirteen member families and operates out of a garage. Over the years, membership has grown to more than 100 and forecasts show a strong potential for new members. The co-op serves the city of Chester, located just outside of Philadelphia, in Delaware County, with a predominantly low-income population. Chester has lacked a supermarket or other fresh produce source for more than seventeen years Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Responding to an obvious need, the co-op hopes to double its current member base, and improve the quality of nutrition in Chester, by opening a store inside a former furniture store and warehouse—with 32,000 square feet of interior. The three-story Art Deco building is located on the corner of a key intersection and is flanked by two vacant lots that are roughly 8,000 square feet each. The site will help to restore the currently frayed fabric of Chester’s central business district. Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • The team of KSS Architects developed a solution that is both operationally and economically feasible, paying careful attention to community-wide needs and possibilities for future investment. The design allows for phased growth, to give the co-op adequate time to develop. In the proposed design, the co-op’s retail floor is intended to promote community interaction. Co-op shoppers enjoy low shelving that allows views across the retail floor. A café offers baked goods and other items, as well as dining inside or outside under an outdoor canopy.   Ultimately, the center of the second floor is removed to create a mezzanine level with meeting and classroom space for health and nutrition programs and a view of the co-op space below, with artists’ studios proposed on the third floor. Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • The vacant lot to the south becomes a community garden and plaza while the vacant lot to the north offers off-street parking buffered by a generous flower and sculpture garden. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Girard Coalition is made up of more than 50 neighborhood groups with a mutual interest in revitalizing Girard Avenue. The volunteer team of Interface Studio Architects worked with The Coalition, eager to attract a supermarket to anchor the Brewerytown/Fairmount portion of the commercial corridor and bring fresh produce and groceries back to both communities. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • The 2.8-acre vacant parcel—triangular, steeply sloped, and with limited Girard Avenue presents many challenges. Owned by Westrum Development Company, the site appears promising because it is within walking distance to multiple neighborhoods and is located on a major thru-street. The site is situated next to the Girard Avenue Bridge and abuts Westrum’s Brewerytown Square development with 144 new townhouses to the north; several old-style row house blocks to the east; and wide, heavily-traveled Girard Avenue to the south. Given the scale and complexity of the site, Interface sought volunteer civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering advice from CMX, CVM Engineers, and Bruce E. Brooks and Associates. Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • The design team proposed a mixed-use development that turns challenging physical attributes into assets. A supermarket, several small stores, and loft housing draws people into the heart of the site, creates new gathering places, and reconnects neighborhoods. The overall effect is a new urban precinct that acts as a bridge between existing areas. From Fairmount, a public plaza at the corner of Girard Avenue and 31st Street encourages pedestrian traffic into the development and offers birds-eye views into the supermarket. From Brewerytown, a small plaza at 31st and Thompson Streets acts as a neighborhood threshold. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • To address the site’s slope, the design team breaks the development into two interconnected layers. The upper layer accommodates the new street-level retail stores and plaza at Girard Avenue. Its roof hovers above the promenade and engages with the lower layer of development—a 35,000 square-foot supermarket and loft housing along the north edge of the site.   Rather than working against the neighborhood’s context with hard edges and a formal layout, the design team imagines the new development as a pavilion on the edge of America’s largest urban green space, Fairmount Park. The project’s design maintains a low-slung, sculptural profile that fits within a context of two- and three-story housing and storefront buildings. Yet it can also be seen as a distinct element within the neighborhood. Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • The designs brought to life through this design initiative highlight the possibilities for improving food access in three distinct neighborhoods—suggesting that innovative design can help influence efforts to improve food access in urban neighborhoods everywhere. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • The initiative has been receiving lots of attention among press, but also among each community where these projects are proposed. At this time, each project is moving forward in some capacity… The Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation has express interest in supporting Weavers Way in pursuing the first phase of design; The Chester Community Grocery Co-op has found a tenant interested in sharing space at the Warehouse; and the Girard Coalition with Westrum Development has been meeting with potential grocery store operators interested in the site and the innovative design. Infill Phila Overview Design Phila 10/17/08
  • Design Phila 10/17/08 Infill Phila Overview
  • Infill Philadelphia: Food Access

    2. 2. mission <ul><li>provide pro-bono preliminary design services to nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area </li></ul><ul><li>offer unique volunteer opportunities for professionals </li></ul><ul><li>promote best practices in community design and development </li></ul>
    3. 3. infill philadelphia Development sites best characterized as neglected public spaces and clusters of vacant or nearly-empty buildings and land. Over time, these sites can obstruct community development plans and even threaten neighborhood stability. Revitalizing urban neighborhoods through innovative design
    4. 4. Design Challenge | pilot: affordable infill housing
    5. 5. Design Challenge | pilot: affordable infill housing
    7. 8. Design Challenge | infill philadelphia: commercial corridors
    8. 14. food access project sites
    9. 20. storefront reuse: Weaver’s Way and Agoos/Lovera Architects
    10. 21. storefront reuse: Weaver’s Way and Agoos/Lovera Architects
    11. 22. storefront reuse: Weaver’s Way and Agoos/Lovera Architects
    12. 23. storefront reuse: Weaver’s Way and Agoos/Lovera Architects
    13. 25. warehouse conversion: Chester’s Community Coop and KSS Architects
    14. 26. warehouse conversion: Chester’s Community Coop and KSS Architects
    15. 27. warehouse conversion: Chester’s Community Coop and KSS Architects
    16. 29. urban supermarket: Girard Coalition/Westrum Development and Interface Studio Architects
    17. 30. urban supermarket: Girard Coalition/Westrum Development and Interface Studio Architects
    18. 31. urban supermarket: Girard Coalition/Westrum Development and Interface Studio Architects
    19. 32. infill philadelphia: food access design principles <ul><li>key design principles </li></ul><ul><li>Design urban food markets to perform multiple roles </li></ul><ul><li>Create a clear, attractive Identity </li></ul><ul><li>Provide well-sequenced spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Make visual connections </li></ul><ul><li>Use design as a tool for business innovation and growth </li></ul>
    20. 33. infill philadelphia: food access press
    21. 34. Community Design Collaborative 1218 Arch Street, First Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.587.9290 [email_address] [email_address]