May 21, 2017
PIDC client Frankford Community Development Corporation (FCDC) is dedicated to development of lower Northeast Philadelphia through affordable and workforce housing development, job creation, improving outcomes around health and wellness and the sustainable improvement of the public space.
FCDC recently hosted PIDC’s fifth Resources for Neighborhood Development session in partnership the City of Philadelphia . We had over 30 attendees comprised of developers, and business owners, as well as other CDCs being educated on the development resources available, and where to go for information. It was also a great opportunity to for PIDC to see FCDC’s new space and catch up with Executive Director Kimberly Washington to learn about development in the Frankford neighborhood and future plans for the CDC.
Kimberly explains, “I never had a particular interest in becoming an Executive or even in working in community development per se. After working as a community engagement specialist for another nonprofit for a program focused in Frankford for three years, my plan was to find my way back to a legal practice. In 2013, the ED for the Frankford CDC resigned and I was asked by the remaining board members to take on her role to help turn the organization around. Despite having an offer to practice law, I chose to work for the CDC because of my connection to the neighborhood and my connection with the people we serve.”
Currently, FCDC is making the biggest impact with community engagement and empowering residents to play a role in improving their communities. The Frankford Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) primarily consists of neighborhood residents. The NAC is also the neighborhood Registered Community Organization (RCO) and that board is 100% resident based. FCDC also has a significant number of community residents and stakeholders who sit on its Board of Directors. Kimberly said, “We are proud to say that our mission is strongly driven by the people who live and work in Frankford and that our residents are eager to play a role in neighborhood development.”
The City has definitely made significant investments in FCDC’s efforts and has helped the organization come a long way these past four years. In 2013, when FCDC was going through a transition, the Commerce Department and Councilwoman Sanchez really stepped in to advocate for keeping services in programs for the neighborhood with the FCDC. “We worked closely with Councilwoman Sanchez, the Commerce Department, and Revenue Department to help pull the organization back together. Just recently the FCDC moved into a new home right on the commercial corridor at 4667 Paul Street and that would not have been possible without the support of the Commerce Department and PIDC,” says Kimberly. PIDC provided a Bridge Loan to FCDC for the new location.
The CDC’s main offices are on the second floor and the Frankford NAC office is located downstairs on the ground floor. FCDC was fortunate enough to be able to rent space in the new building to their local State Representative. Having both the CDC and the State Office under one roof has increased the amount of foot traffic for both offices. FCDC is now working to secure a cafe/bakery tenant for the first floor store front space and is in the process of renovating the facade of the building through a Storefront Improvement Program grant courtesy of the Commerce Department. Next month, FCDC hopes to break ground on a demonstration phase of the long awaited Frankford Pause Park, which is located right next door to the new building.
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission has also been a great supporter over the past four years through a partnership for their Destination Frankford initiative. Destination Frankford really put FCDC on the map for their place-based development initiative, as well as helped FCDC form a vision for the neighborhood over the next five years.
The idea for FCDC’s new building and the Frankford Pause Park were both born out of the Destination Frankford initiative. In addition to the new building and the park, the Community Design Collaborative developed a conceptual design for a streetscaping plan that involves transforming Paul Street into a festival street. Three summers ago when FCDC began working with PCPC on Destination Frankford, they used Paul Street for block festivals that incorporated concerts, food trucks, and art gallery installations. Residents seemed to really enjoy those events. FCDC is not quite there in terms of being able to shut the block down for a festival due to all the construction on Paul Street. However, the food truck events are a great way to pull people back out once the weather gets nice and it gives folks something to look forward too for the summer. It also provides a nice variety for local workers to get out and get something different for lunch.
Kimberly says, “FCDC’s goal over the next five years is to really focus on corridor revitalization along Frankford Avenue. FCDC will keep working towards implementing small scale placed-based projects around the Arrott Transportation Center. Its larger goal is to work with the City of Philadelphia to create a Transportation Oriented Development around the Frankford Transportation Center that is anchored by a fresh food market.”
FCDC is always looking for volunteers and in-kind donations for professional services. If someone would like to make a monetary contribution to its general fund, they can donate online at www.frankfordccdc.org.