The district-level comprehensive plan for the West Park area will focus on three key areas: Centennial Park, City Line Avenue, and the relatively large amount of vacant properties contained especially in the neighborhoods of East Parkside, West Parkside, and Cathedral Park.
While work continues on the plan - part of the city's first comprehensive redo in decades – community input and staff research has already highlighted some of the key assets and challenges of the district, community planner Andrew Meloney said at the second public input session at St. Joseph's University Monday night. Often, the asset and the challenge are directly related.
The West Park district includes residential neighborhoods, a large swath of Fairmount Park, St. Joseph's University, and the City Line Avenue commercial corridor.
Centennial Park, home to the Phialdelphia Zoo, the Please Touch Museum, the Mann, and other attractions, brings about 1.5 million annual visitors to the district, but planners believe there needs to be more emphasis placed on amenities for people who live nearby. Things like fountains and seating areas would make Centennial more of a neighborhood resource as well, Meloney said.
When visitors come to Centennial Park, they should have restaurants and other services to keep them there for awhile, Meloney said.
“We want to encourage visitors to use public transportation to reduce congestion,” he said.
The City Avenue corridor includes three million feet of office space, and about 28,000 people work there, Meloney said. “We want to encourage more modern office space, and growth on the Philadelphia side of City Avenue,” he said.
Planners want to promote the growth of high-wage jobs, and lessen the area's automobile dependence.
While the district as a whole has a vacant land rate of 2 percent, it is much higher – 21.3 percent – in Cathedral Park, East Parkside and West Parkside. That translates to 780 vacant lots, or 49 acres. The average home sale price in these three neighborhoods is $37,000, Meloney said. “That is pretty low, and it is pulled down by the proximity of vacant land,” he said.
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