Business vacancy at South Street Headhouse

Weekly Press: South Street, South Street - that's where all the blank stores beat

How to improve the South Street business corridor was the focus of the South Street Headhouse District’s (SSHD) monthly meeting last Wednesday, December 9th.

With several vacant storefronts, fellow business owners assembled to grapple over how to fill said vacancies—and there was the even more pressing question of how to fill them with shops that would reflect the artistic vibe that has made the street so famous.

This seemed particularly relevant, considering the recent application for the Korean-owned frozen yogurt shop at 5th and South Streets. While it seemed apparent that the applicant intended to make a long-term commitment to the district, several questions were raised about opening yet another take-out establishment.

"We need to be consistent," explained the Board’s Chair, Michael Untermyer, in reference to the fact that the District could easily acquire 10 to 15 new tenants in the form of take-out establishments—though this, said one audience member, would make South Street "look like the boardwalk."

And for several business owners, the prospect of having South Street resemble the boardwalk proves especially upsetting, given the fact that several of the businesses that once contributed to its artsy renown have moved to the numbered side streets due to high rents.

Also, Headhouse Square’s Executive Director David Hammond said that with regard to the city’s zoning code, once a take-out establishment closes, another can automatically reopen if the vacancy hasn’t been filled in under three years.

About the author

Andrew Goodman, Community Engagement Director, New Kensington Community Development Corporation

Goodman is currently the Community Engagement Director at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.

Previously, Goodman worked as a city planner and project manager for PennPraxis. His focus was on projects that combined community engagement and public space design, including the Central Delaware Waterfront Planning Process, the Green2015 initiative for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and the Bartram’s Mile project in Southwest Philadelphia.  Goodman was an early contributor to PlanPhilly and helped shape the site in its first iteration.  As PlanPhilly grew, Goodman represented the publisher and provided professional planning input and project management support as the site expanded its beat coverage, went through multiple redesigns, conducted an internal strategic plan, and researched revenue generation opportunities.

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